Failing an MOT is more than just an expensive inconvenience. With 80% of us driving to work, we rely on our vehicles staying roadworthy just to get by. The trouble is, your car can blow its MOT for a much wider range of reasons than most people realise. The engine doesn’t have to drop out on the road to fail the test. In fact, some of the most common reasons for failing aren’t even mechanical and can easily be avoided with a little forethought.

The important thing to realise about all this is that the MOT test is there for everyone’s safety, and it needs to be taken seriously. With up to a grand in fines on offer, not to mention grabbing the attention of the police, driving without an MOT is a seriously bad idea. That’s one of the main reasons why you should get your test sorted out well in advance of your old MOT certificate expiring. If you need your car or van for work, you really can’t afford to risk blowing the test with no time to fix the trouble. As long as the vehicle’s safe to drive, failing an MOT while your old certificate’s still valid won’t take you off the road straight away. You’ll be glad of the breathing space when it comes to getting the necessary repairs made.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common reasons why vehicles fail the test. You might be surprised how avoidable they are:

Dodgy bumpers

Even a very minor knock can put your MOT certificate in danger. Loose bumpers are a pretty common reason for MOT failures. It takes no time to check they’re secure, and it’s definitely worth it before you take the test.

Windscreen wiper problems

Checking your wipers work is pretty low on most road users’ priorities, but it really shouldn’t be. Broken windscreen wipers are a genuine safety hazard, since it takes surprisingly little rain to block your view of the road. Keeping a clean windscreen will actually go a long way toward reducing the wear and tear on your wipers.

Ditch the fluffy dice and air fresheners

Just like windscreen wipers, this is a safety issue that most drivers rarely even think about. There could be nothing at all wrong with your car, but you could still fail your MOT for having something hanging in your field of vision. Blocking any part of your view of the road isn’t smart, and it really shouldn’t take an MOT failure to tell you that.

Dirty plates and bodywork

It might sound crazy, but keeping your car clean can actually be a major step toward passing an MOT test. To put it another way, you can be refused a test at all if your car’s dirty enough.

With licence plates, it’s just common sense that they need to be readable. Again, it takes no time at all to wipe down your plates, so it’s crazy that so many vehicles blow their MOTs this way. While you’re at it, check your number plate bulb works. You can fail for that, too.

The key mechanical stuff

This is where the real meat of the test is. Obviously, your vehicle needs to run reliably and safely in the first place to pass an MOT. Beyond that, though, you should be aware of things like:

  • Suspension: if it’s not up to scratch, you’ll fail.
  • Brakes: even if they seem to work okay, grinding or squealing noises can be a sign of trouble. Don’t forget your handbrake, either. Your MOT tester certainly won’t.
  • Seatbelts: these are so important that even a slightly torn or knotted belt can blow your whole MOT.
  • Tyres: there’s a legal minimum depth for tyre treads of 1.6mm. Experts recommend not letting yours go below 3mm, though.

Assuming your vehicle’s basically roadworthy to begin with, it doesn’t take a huge effort to get it up to standard for your MOT. It might seem like yet another painful expense to fix the problems, but if you drive for work, then it’s as much a necessity as claiming your yearly tax refunds with the UK’s top tax experts!