Valve Automotive - What's Tested In Our MOT

Car and Motorcycle MOT - What's Tested?

Car MOT Checklist

Registration plates, tow bar and Vehicle Identification Number* (VIN).
* Required on all vehicles first used on or after 1st August 1980. NOTE: Revised Registration Plate Testing and Tow Bar Testing (see below) were effective from April 09.
(See current Number Plate Regs graphic.)

For registered vehicles the registration plate must be: Vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1973 may have registration plates displaying white, grey or silver characters on a black background. A three-wheeled vehicle, which has a motorcycle derived front end, does not require a front number plate.

Registration Plate Specifications.

Relevant Dimension Tricycles & quadricycles All other vehicles
Character Height 64mm 79mm
Character width (except for the figure 1 or letter I) 44mm 50mm
Stroke Width 10mm 14mm
Space between two characters in group 10mm 11mm
Vertical space between groups of characters 13mm 19mm
Horizontal space between groups of characters 30mm 33mm
Margins(minimum) 11mm 11mm
The VIN number must be: Tow Bar (Towing Hook)
Reason for Rejection:
A towbar component insecure, fractured or excessively: Steering
Inside the car checks.
Steering wheel and steering column: *Free play allowed depends on type of steering: 75mm for non-rack and pinion, 13mm for rack and pinion steering. Where there are several joints between the steering wheel and the rack, up to 48mm on a 380mm diameter wheel may be accepted.

Reasons for failure:
1. Steering wheel weakened by modification, cracks, fractures, in a condition that hampers proper control or likely to injure the driver's hands.Note: Cracks or incompleteness of the covering skin of a steering wheel or hub, are not a reason for rejection.
2. a) An adjustable steering column will not lock in a fixed position
b) Movement between the shaft and steering wheel
c) Excessive radial movement (play) at the top of the steering column between the column and the shaft indicating a badly worn top bearing.
Note: Some vehicles have flexible top bearings for the steering column. With these more than average movement is acceptable.
d) Insecurity at the steering column top mounting bracket.
3. Excessive steering shaft end float.
4. Insecurity, excessive play or deterioration of a flexible coupling or universal joint.
5. A retaining or locking device missing or insecure.

Under bonnet checks
This varies vehicle to vehicle; some of these items cannot be observed from under the bonnet on some makes and models. Under vehicle checks:

Test Description
The headlamps are checked for alignment with a Beam Setter. After first aligning the equipment with the vehicle, the left and right headlamp beams are checked to ensure they are correctly set so as not to dazzle other road users.

All required lights are checked for: Side lights and headlamps
Stop lights, indicators and hazard lights* Rear Fog lamps** Number plate lamps Rear reflectors * Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1986, but if fitted, must be Tested.
** Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1980.

Bonnet Catch

Reasons for Failure

Test Description
Both front doors must be openable from the inside and outside and all doors must latch securely.

Tailgates, bootlids etc

All these items, including the tailboards and dropsides of trucks must be securable in the closed position.

Vehicle Structure

Body condition and security

A vehicle can fail with respect to corrosion for:
The driver's and the front passenger's seats must be secure.

All seat backs must be securable in the upright position.

Seat Belts
Test Description
Most vehicles after 1965 must have seat belts. Irrespective of that requirement, all seat belts fitted to any vehicle must be inspected for:
  • Security of seat belt mountings and locking stalks
  • Security and operation of the locking/release mechanism
  • Condition of webbing
  • Retraction of the belt (it is allowed to manually feed it in)

  • Notes:

    1. For technical reasons the inertia locking mechanism is not checked.
    2. On some vehicles the belt is attached to the seat, in which case the security of the seat to the vehicle would also constitute part of the seat belt check.


    Test Description
    Brake efficiency and balace is usually checked on a roller brake tester. In certain cases where a roller brake tester may not be used (for example on certain 4-wheel drive vehicles) it may be necessary to check brake efficiency and balance on a road test, with a portable decelerometer.

    Inside the car

    Anti-lock braking system (if fitted) warning lamp is checked for:
    Parking brake

    This could be hand or foot operated. Checked for reserve travel so that it doesn't reach the stops on application. The mountings will be checked for security and/or corrosion.

    Under bonnet checks
    Under vehicle checks
    Brake performance check

    The performance of the front and rear brakes and handbrake are checked for efficiency and balance using specialised equipment.


    Includes all items affecting the driver's view of the road: the condition of the windscreen, the wipers and washers.

    Chips or cracks in the windscreen directly in front of the driver, in the area swept by the wiper blades, are acceptable if they are less than 10mm in diameter. In the rest of the swept area, up to 40mm diameter damage is acceptable.

    Official stickers (any used in connection with road enforcement, security or crime prevention matters) that are not readily removable are only a reason for rejection if they restrict the driver's view.

    Valve Automotive - Windscreens

    Washers and wipers

    Not all mirrors on all vehicles are subject to Test, depending on the age of the vehicle. Those mirrors which must be checked must be:


    Test Description
    Under bonnet checks

    upper suspension joints
    Under vehicle checks
    Applies to the front and rear suspension
    The suspension is checked for wear by the assistant applying loads in various ways with the wheels jacked up whilst the Tester observes the result from beneath the vehicle.

    Note: There are numerous different suspension systems, and the specific nature of any examination will depend to a large extent on the design of the suspension system.

    Exhaust system and Emissions

    Test Description
    The exhaust system will fail the MOT if:

    These are checked using specialised equipment, the details of the check depending on the year that the vehicle was first used on the road. Excessive smoking (checked visually) is a reason for failure.

    Diesel smoke emissions are checked by using a smoke meter. Fuel system Any fuel leak will result in a fail. Checked under the bonnet and throughout the run of the fuel line from the fuel tank to the engine.
    Tyres and Roadwheels condition

    Tyre condition
    The reason for failure with respect to tyre wear is:
    "The grooves of the tread pattern are not 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".

    Tyres must be correctly matched with regard to:
    NB. type or structure but not both.
    Also examined:
    Tyres fail if they have serious cuts, bulges or other damage.

    The wear on the tyre is checked with a tyre tread depth gauge to ensure compliance.

    The tyres are examined to ensure that there is no fouling with any part of the vehicle.

    Notes: Although under-inflation is not in itself a reason for failure, a brake test may be inadvisable because of possible damage, and it may affect headlamp alignment. The condition of the spare tyre is not part of the MOT.

    Wheel condition
    An externally fitted spare wheel or spare wheel carrier must not be so insecure that it is likely to fall off.

    Motorcycle MOT Checklist

    a) Sitting on machine check:
    1. All controls, switches and horn
    2. Front suspension, forks, handlebars and head bearings

    b) At the front of the machine check:
    1. Front lights and indicators
    2. Front brake master cylinder (if fitted)

    c) Place the machine on its stand and raise front wheel check:
    1. Steering, front forks and head bearings
    2. Front brake and wheel bearings
    3. Wheel and tyre condition
    d) Lower front wheel and go to right side of vehicle and check:
    1. Frame, VIN, seat and foot rest
    2. Exhaust system
    3. Final drive (if fitted to RHS of machine)
    4. Rear wheel, tyre and brake

    e) Raise the rear wheel and check:
    1. Rear wheel, rear brake/components and tyre condition
    2. Rear suspension and final drive

    f) At the rear check:
    1. Rear position lamp(s)/stop lamp(s)/reflectors and indicators
    2. Rear suspension
    3. Registration Plate

    g) On the left of the machine check:
    1. Frame and foot rest
    2. Exhaust system
    3. Final drive (if fitted to LHS of machine)
    4. Rear wheel, tyre and brake

    h) At the front of the machine check:
    1 Wheel alignment
    2 Headlamp aim
    3 Brake performance
    If a sidecar is fitted it will also be examined in a manner specified by VOSA with respect to Security, Suspension, Wheel Bearings and Wheel Alignment.