What is a pre-MOT inspection, and how can it save you money?
As a car owner, there are certain annual expenses that you can't avoid. Your MOT is one of them. But while an MOT costs time and money no matter what happens, if your vehicle fails its MOT it's going to cost even more. There are things you can do, however, to improve your vehicle's chances of passing.
What is a pre-MOT inspection?
A pre-MOT inspection, as the name implies, is an inspection of your vehicle done before the MOT test. The MOT test is the annual inspection that determines your vehicle's overall condition and how roadworthy it is - driving without a valid MOT is a criminal offence.
How do you get a pre-MOT inspection done?
A pre-MOT inspection can be carried out at any garage - you don't have to choose the garage you're going to get your MOT done at. This gives you the freedom to shop around and find the best prices for you. The MOT is a standardised test, so every garage is going to be looking for the same things - that means a pre-MOT inspection at whichever garage you choose should be enough to ensure there are no surprises on your eventual MOT.
If you have a few more minutes to invest, however, you can save the cost completely and do a pre-MOT inspection on your own vehicle yourself. It should only take you around five or ten minutes, and highlight any obvious causes of concern your MOT tester will pick up.
What should you be looking for on a pre-MOT inspection?
Doing a pre-MOT inspection yourself is a great way to save money. Here are common MOT fail points to check.
Lights & indicators
With the ignition on, check all your lights work properly, including your brake lights, indicators, and fog lights. You can do this on your own by parking near a wall and testing your lights. Check also for cracked or foggy lens clusters that hamper your lights' effectiveness.
Fuel & filler cap
Ensure there's no damage around the fuel filler cap and that it closes securely. It's also important to leave enough fuel in the car to ensure the emissions test can be completed. Also, check your fuel gauge is working and reading accurately.
Steering & suspension
Press hard on both front wings of your car - if there's any bounce instead of simply returning to the correct position you may have worn shocks. Also, listen for any untoward noises when you're driving, and turn the wheels lock to lock listening for any noises you shouldn't be hearing.
Wheels & tyres
Check your car's tyres using a tyre tread gauge for maximum accuracy - these are very cheap. The legal limit is 1.6mm but if you're approaching that you may get an advisory notice on the MOT. Also check the tyres for any bald spots or signs of impact damage or degradation. If you happen to have tyre insurance coverage this is a great time to use it, as it can help you make a considerable saving on the cost of getting new tyres for your vehicle.
Numberplate & windscreen
Check that both your front and rear number plates are legible and that they aren't cracked. Your vehicle should have a light above the rear number plate, which should also be working. Check your windscreen for cracks and chips. A chip cannot cover 10mm or more within the span of the windscreen wipers, and a crack of more than 40mm will cause your vehicle to fail. There are options for replacing your windscreen via your insurance coverage if you find this issue.
Go for a short drive
With these checks done you should go for a little drive. Check your seatbelts are in good condition and anchoring correctly. Check your wipers for perishing blades and ensure you have topped up fluid. Drive without any music playing and just listen to the vehicle. Listen while you operate the brakes for any squeaking or juddering, any noises as you operate the gearbox or steer the vehicle, and anything unusual about your engine noise.
Saving yourself money and time
Just a few minutes checking these common MOT fail points can help you save yourself the time and expense of getting your car retested. You can either fix it yourself if it's an easy fix, or inform your garage of the fault before the car is tested. As with all things motoring, it's always best to catch issues as early as possible.