Prepare yourself and your vehicle for your first MOT:
When is the first MOT due on a new car?
If your vehicle is nearing its fourth birthday, you should start preparing to take it for its first MOT. Every car more than three years old is required to have an annual MOT to ensure roadworthiness. Without the MOT, you will not be able to tax or insure your car which means it cannot legally be driven. You might imagine that ‘new’ cars will fly through the MOT but statistically, of the 40% of cars that fail each year, 1 in 5 are from the ‘new car’ group. The most common reason for failures are lights, signalling, and brake issues. Having these facts in mind, it makes sense to spend a little time properly preparing for your first MOT, to ensure that you bring your car to the test centre in tip top condition and give it the best chance to pass.
Make sure you know the date before which you are required to MOT your vehicle (your vehicle logbook will show the date of registration and the DVA will also notify you in good time if you are the registered owner/keeper).
Make an advance booking for a test time slot, most local centres have high demand and you might find that you have to book several weeks in advance, so leave yourself enough time to ensure you have it tested before the deadline.
When you know the date of your MOT, book the car into your local registered mechanic or garage for a pre-MOT check.
Spend an hour or so doing your own home checks. Some issues can be quickly resolved at home and you’ll be leaving the big issues for the garage. Here’s what to look out for:
– Check all doors, windows, boot, and bonnet open and close
– Be sure all lightbulbs are working, there are no cracks in the headlights or damage to the lights (check these again on the day as a simple bulb failure can result in having to take the MOT again)
– Check your windscreen for cracks
– Ensure the horn sounds and dashboard lights are functioning
– Check seat belts are free from damage
– Test your wipers and check that you have sufficient wiper fluid
– Be sure that all external mirrors are undamaged
– Test that the bumpers are secure and that the petrol cap is in place
– Spend some time testing your tyres for pressure and tread (tread depth must be a minimum of 1.6mm over 3/4 of the tyre and that includes the edges, not just the centre of the tread) and don’t forget the spare tyre if you have one.
– Finally, and very importantly, make sure that you know how to control everything in the car: full beam, fog lights, emergency lights etc. The one that sends first time MOT-ers into a spin is when they’re asked to pop open the bonnet. If you’re not a petrol head, chances are, you’ve never had to do this in the day to day activity of driving your car! It’s better to inform yourself on this one before you get there: the manual in your glovebox is a good place to start.
When you take the vehicle in to your local mechanic or garage, they will be looking for issues relating to brakes, steering, shock absorbers, and exhaust. If they do find any problems, they will advise what work needs to be done to bring the vehicle up to MOT standard in advance of your test.
Give your vehicle a once-over and show it some TLC inside and out to give the right impression that your car is well looked after. Some people like to get the undercarriage of their car cleaned with a specialist cleaner, but this is only really necessary if you’ve been driving through extremely muddy conditions that would impede the inspector’s ability to see everything under there is free from damage (unless you really want a shiny exhaust system of course – knock yourself out!).
When you’ve done all that, you are MOT ready! Give yourself time to get to the test centre, follow the instructions and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork with you when you get there and all being well, you can hope to pass the test for another year. If things don’t go your way, simply make the changes advised by your tester and book another test date.