During the winter we take the bad weather in our stride but spare a thought also for your car. It too has to deal with everything that the dark months can throw at it, so regular checks are recommended and this is especially true if MOT testing time is fast approaching.
There are certain things that a vehicle owner can do to help minimise the chances of a MOT failure once the car is delivered to the local MOT test centre. It isn’t necessary to have automotive skills; just a basic knowledge and an eye for anything that doesn’t look quite right. Here’s our suggestions for ensuring that, come MOT time, you are not going to be let down by something simple:
Check The Tyres
It goes without saying that worn or damaged tyres are dangerous. Wheels, alloy or steel, need to be checked for any distortion or cracks. With tyres, the law of the land requires tread depth must be at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.
Tyre gauges are cheaply available or use a twenty-pence piece, running the coin around the tread grooves. If you can see the outer band, the tyres are too far gone. These vital rubber hoops should also be visually inspected for any cuts or bulges and ensure that the same-size tyres are fitted on each axle. If in doubt, get them changed.
On The Inside
It’s not just the underside that gets checked. Owners need to ensure that seatbelts are functioning properly; snapping back when released and that mirrors are all present and correct, without damage. The horn must work and all the dashboard warning lights must first illuminate and then extinguish when the engine is started. If any stay on, well, you have a problem. Get it checked out by your local car servicing garage.
As brakes wear it is easy for owners to not notice that maybe they are not as sharp as they once were. Take a test drive and, when totally safe to do so, try a braking test; not an emergency stop as such, just firm pressure. If the car stops quickly, straight and true then the brakes are probably fine. If the car pulls to the left or right or if the brakes don’t ‘feel right’ or, worse still feel spongy, because you are now consciously thinking about it, get them checked in advance of the test or maybe get a full car service prior to a test.
Some cars have wheels where the brake callipers can be clearly seen. If you know what you are looking for it might be possible to assess the depth of the fitted brake pads. If they look thin and the brake discs themselves looked badly scored, a pre-emptive check might be in order. If the car has been unused for a few days, standing in the rain, the brake discs might look a bit rusty; this is not of itself a problem. The braking action will soon clear it.
Fuel & Fluids
Ensure there is enough fuel in the car to get to and from the MOT test centre and for the technicians to do what they have to do. With the engine cold, check the oil level using the dipstick. Your car’s handbook (you do know where it is don’t you?) will tell you where the dipstick is located. If the oil looks reasonably clean and the level is between the markers then you should be good to go. Check also the levels of the brake fluid reservoir against the measure line: It’s usually sited near the top of the engine.
Don’t forget the windscreen washer liquid level. Working wipers that clear the whole screen and washers that function correctly are part of the test and it’s a simple matter to fix. Top up the reservoir and change the blades. They’re widely available from well-known motor factors or your local servicing garage.
Windscreens should be undamaged; any repairs to cracks or stone chips should be professionally done and attended to immediately. Side and rear glass should be clean.
Lights and indicators should all be working; headlights, dipped beam, side and fog lamps should be checked for correct, aligned illumination. Get a friend or neighbour to help. All indicators should also be functioning and that includes the main clusters plus any on the side of the car or up above the hatch or boot.
It only takes an hour to check all of the above personally and at least it helps with peace of mind, knowing that you are presenting a car that you know has all the right things working as they should.
To book your MOT test please call us on 01344 882511 or you can book online with us just click on https://www.baileysgarage.co.uk/mots-in-bracknell and then click on the Tab 'Book an Online MOT'.