My heart sinks when I spot on my calendar that the MOT is due on my car. As one who drives what might be described unkindly as an "old banger" there's always a risk it might fail or result in a big garage bill.
I have learned over the years that prevention is better than cure so I give my vehicle a little pre-mot check which means I can often pick up little issues and fix them before the big day.
The RAC publishes a comprehensive list of what is checked during an MOT and what you can check before sending your car into the garage for testing.
Did you know that loads of clutter in your boot or an excessively dirty car can fail an MOT? No technical mechanical or electrical knowledge required to sort those issues out quickly and cheaply. Just a couple of carrier bags to empty your boot and a cloth to clean your car (especially the reg plates!)
It's also easy to check that the windscreen wipers, the horn and all the lights work - get a friend to walk round your car and give you the thumbs up as you try indicators, brake lights, headlamps on all settings and reverse lights. (You might make sure they are not directly behind the car for that last one, just in case you actually reverse by accident!)
Found a fault? Most of these things are pretty simple to fix using your car manual or the University of YouTube. Otherwise many motoring stores or garages will replace them for you free or for a small charge if you buy the parts from them.
Check all fluid levels- oil, water, antifreeze, screen wash- and top up if necessary. Don't know how to check or do that? Tut, tut! My dad believed you shouldn't own a vehicle if you couldn't make basic checks like this and before I was allowed behind the wheel he made sure I did know and promised to take responsibility for checking regularly.
Always keep bottles of those fluids handy in the shed or your garage then you'll never be caught out. You can often pick them up on the shelves of your nearest large supermarket or pop into a specialist motoring shop or a garage if you would prefer help, especially when choosing the right oil for your vehicle.
Tyres of course are a vital safety component of your vehicle. Tyres with bald patches, bulges, chipped areas and low tread could not only cause a failed MOT but could cost you your life.
I have written repeatedly about the very simple 20p tyre tread testing am going to share this simple tip here once more. Insert a 20p piece into the tread and if the border is still visible your tread is too low. Tyres can wear unevenly so make sure you repeat this check on different areas of each tyre.
The next question is where to get your MOT? I use the small independent garage in my village which is very convenient but in the past followed advice from reviews to find places for MOT. I'd advise asking friends and family for their recommendations. New to the area? Ask colleagues at work or consult the playground hive mind. Nowadays you can probably find an "Everything *insert name of town*" Facebook group where there are always lots of people just itching to recommend places.
Live in London? Get an MOT in London only from Iverson tyres. Their state of the art facility and highly professional and friendly staff will satisfy you with services like never before.
Whatever you do don't forget when your MOT is due. Make a note on your calendar with a reminder at least a week before to do your pre-MOT checks. If you can't find your last MOT certificate or have no clue when it's due you can use the handy Gov.uk tool and simply type in your registration number and vehicle make and model. The tool will check your MOT and car tax status in just a few seconds.
You must not drive a vehicle without an MOT unless it is on its way directly to a test centre for a pre-booked test. If for any reason you decide to wait to have the vehicle tested when the MOT runs out you must SORN it - make a declaration to DVLA that it is off the road.
The MOT might seem like a chore but it's designed to check your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. Get it checked and keep yourself and your family safe.