What's checked in an MOT?

MOT Checklist

Halfords MOT Checklist

An MOT test is designed to ensure that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. The current requirements are therefore pretty strict, but there are steps you can take to help prepare your car for its MOT. First step, check out our online checklist below and be sure to sign up to our MOT reminder to get notified when your MOT is due.

What is checked in an MOT?

Listed below are the main elements that are checked as part of the MOT test, along with some pre-MOT check tips. Nearly half of all faults found during MOT checks could be avoided by carrying out simple maintenance, so it's worthwhile checking items like lights, wiper blades and tyres beforehand so that your vehicle has the best chance of passing first time!


30% of all MOT faults relate to lighting and signalling

Your vehicle’s front, rear, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights and rear reflectors must:

  • be correctly positioned and secure
  • not be obscured
  • be in good condition
  • show the correct colour (a bluish tinge to front headlights is acceptable as long as the predominant colour is white)
  • not be adversely affected by the operation of any other light
  • illuminate with a single operation of the switch

Pairs of lights must emit light of the same colour, size and shape.

Headlight aim (both dip beam and main beam) should be below the horizontal, so as not to dazzle other drivers.


The horn must emit a continuous uniform note and must be loud enough to be heard by another road user.


The battery must be secure and not show any signs of leaking electrolytes.

Electrical wiring

Wiring should be secure and must not be damaged to the point where it is likely to short circuit or become detached.

Vehicles with a towbar

Any electrical socket must be in a good condition and correctly operate the trailer parking lights, brake lights, indicators and rear fog lights.

Pre-MOT check tips

Lights: While you operate your lights from the driver’s seat, have a friend or family member walk around your vehicle to check each of them is working correctly.

Horn: Give your horn a quick blast to check it’s working correctly.

Battery: Check that all connectors are in place securely and are in good condition, while keeping an eye out for fluid leakages. If you’ve got any concerns, then our free battery check can give you peace of mind.


Your steering wheel must be secure and in a good condition. The tester will check this by pushing the wheel in various directions and inspecting the steering components for wear or damage.

If your steering has a locking device, it should only lock when the engine isn’t running.

Vehicles with power steering must have at least the minimum level of power steering fluid in the reservoir.


Suspension components and shock absorbers will be checked for excessive corrosion, distortion and fractures.

9.6% of MOT fails are due to brake issues

Your brakes, pedals and levers should be in good condition and any relevant warning lights must work. The tester will also carry out a brake performance test to check brake efficiency.

Pre-MOT check tips

Brakes: Keep an eye on your car and make a mental note if it pulls to one side when you apply the brakes. This could suggest a problem that needs addressing before you take your car for an MOT. If you’d like some expert advice, consider taking advantage of our free brake check.free battery check

10% of all MOT faults are related to tyres

Your tyres must be of an appropriate speed and load rating for your vehicle. Tread depth needs to be at least 1.6mm and the tester will check for cuts in excess of 25mm, lumps, bulges, tears, exposure of the cord and tread separation.

For vehicles with run-flat tyres, the warning light must operate correctly.

Road wheels must be in good general condition, and all wheel nuts should be in place and tightly secured.

Pre-MOT check tips

Tyres: Use a tyre depth gauge to check the tread depth or pop into your local Halfords autocentre for a free tyre check.

All of your seat belts (including the attachment and adjustment fittings) need to be the correct length and in good working order.

Pre-MOT check tips

Seat belts: Give your seat belts a sharp tug to make sure that the restraint systems are working correctly. Also check that the locks are in good working order and operate correctly.


A general inspection of the body, chassis, engine mountings, seats, bonnet, boot and doors will be carried out as part of your MOT checks. All components must be free from excessive corrosion and must not have any sharp edges that might cause injury.

Registration plates

A registration plate must be fitted at the front and rear. The plates must be secure and clearly legible to someone standing 20 metres away from the car.

The characters on the plate must be correctly formed and spaced, and not likely to be misread.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Every vehicle must permanently display a legible VIN, either on a VIN plate secured to the vehicle, or stamped or etched on the body or chassis.


A speedometer must be fitted, and the tester will check that it can be illuminated. It doesn’t matter if the dial glass is cracked as long as the speed can be read.

Pre-MOT check tips

Registration plates: Clean your number plates and make sure they’re legible and legal. If you need a replacement for your front or back, you can order one online.

Speedometer: Check that your speedometer can be read and the dashboard lights illuminate at night.

Exhaust system

Your exhaust system should be secure and free of leaks. If your vehicle was originally fitted with a catalytic converter, it must still be present.


Your vehicle’s carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions must fall within the legal limit. The tester will use a gas analyser probe while the engine is running to test the smoke emitted from the exhaust. They’ll also visually check for excessive smoke of any colour being emitted from the exhaust, which could result in an MOT failure.

It’s important to note that your vehicle will need sufficient engine oil and fuel levels in order for the tester to carry out their emission checks.

Pre-MOT check tips

Exhaust: Make a note of any noise or rattling from the direction of your exhaust pipe when your car’s running. This could suggest a problem that needs addressing before you take your MOT. Take advantage of our free exhaust check to get some expert support.

Emissions: To support the emissions test, top up your engine oil and fuel levels. Your oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick in the oil reservoir under your bonnet.

6.6% of MOT fails are due to issues with the driver's view of the road

Mirrors and wipers

Rear view mirrors and wing mirrors must be secure and provide adequate views to the rear and side. Wipers and washers must sweep a wide enough area to give the driver an adequate view of the road.


In the area of the windscreen directly in front of the driver, there must not be any damage or obstruction to the view larger than 10mm. Outside this area (but within the swept area), there must not be any damage or other obstruction larger than 40mm.

Pre-MOT check tips

Mirrors: Check for cracks that might obscure your vision and replace any damaged mirrors to avoid the risk of failing your test.

Wipers: Give your wiper blades a once-over to ensure they’re in good working order and aren’t showing any signs of damage.

Windscreen: Ensure that your screen wash is topped up (you can fail your MOT if this isn’t the case!) and there’s no significant damage to your windscreen. Also make sure that the screen wash feed isn’t blocked.


It’s helpful if you can bring your current MOT certificate and V5C Vehicle Registration Document along to your MOT.

If your vehicle passes its MOT then you’ll be issued with a new MOT certificate, which is valid for a year. The result will also be recorded in the MOT database.

Your vehicle will fail the test if any ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems are found. In this case, you’ll be issued with a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ and it’ll be recorded in the MOT database.

First off, you can only drive your car away from the test centre if your previous MOT certificate is still valid or if no ‘dangerous’ problems were listed in the MOT. If this isn’t the case, then you’ll need to get it repaired before it can be driven again.

You may only need a partial retest if you leave your vehicle at the test centre for repair and it’s retested within 10 working days. There’s no fee for this, but there may be a fee if you take your car away and bring it back for the repairs.

Our advice is to get all the repairs your vehicle needs as soon as possible so that you be confident in the safety of your car and your legal right to drive it on the road.

You can book a Class 4 MOT or Class 7 MOT via the Halfords website or by contacting your local Halfords autocentre. Our MOT price is just £39.85 (£15.00 less than the DVSA maximum fee for Class 4 and £18.75 less for Class 7).

What’s more, if you book your MOT together with a service, you can save time and up to £39.85! We offer a range of combined MOT and service options, all of which can be booked online.

If your MOT isn’t due yet then you can also sign up for a helpful reminder.

Booking Your MOT Test

Booking an MOT with Halfords couldn’t be easier and is only required if your vehicle is older than 3 years.

It’s important to know there is a potential fine for driving without a valid MOT which can be up to £1,000. If you're not sure when your current MOT expires you can check the current status using our online MOT checker.

If you require an MOT you can find a local MOT centre online and book your MOT at one of our local garages.

Book an MOT