All vehicles over three years old need an MOT, and since 1995 the test has also included a check of exhaust emissions to ensure that cars are not polluting our air excessively. So, what can you do to ensure that it passes its test? Before taking your vehicle for its test why not run through this checklist:

Starting in the interior:

  • check that the seats are securely mounted.
  • are the seatbelts frayed and does the mechanism work correctly?
  • is there any damage to the steering wheel, or too much free movement when you gently turn the wheel a few inches in each direction when the car is parked?
  • is the boot clear so an inspector can open it and inspect under the mat for rust or structural damage? He or she will need to gain entry via the boot lid or tailgate, so make sure that there’s not too many items in the boot that can impede their access to where they need to be.
  • are there any windscreen cracks or chips? Cracks or chips in the driver’s line of sight must not be larger than 10mm, and out of the driver’s field of view. 40mm is the limit.
  • is the rear-view mirror intact and clean?

Check exterior items:

  • is the car reasonably clean? Garages won't test very dirty cars.
  • are all lights working and their lenses undamaged?
  • if the car has a rear fog light, is it working and does the warning light in the switch or on the dashboard function too?
  • do all tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm?
  • is the registration plate either cracked or obscured?
  • what is the condition of the wiper blades?
  • is the chassis/VIN number plate easily found (and legible)? You’ll find this at the foot of the windscreen on the left-hand side on a right-hand drive vehicle.

Under-bonnet and mechanical checks:

  • is the horn working properly?
  • does the fuel cap fit securely?
  • is the screen-washer bottle topped up?
  • are the headlight beams correctly aimed so as not to dazzle drivers in oncoming vehicles?
  • are there any leaks in the exhaust system? You can usually hear the system ‘blowing’ from outside the car.
  • are the brakes and handbrake in perfect working order? There must not be excessive pedal movement before the brakes start to ‘bite’.
  • are all the controls, such as indicators and switches, in good working order?
  • if your vehicle is fitted with a tyre pressure monitor, this must be working too. Is it?

All correct? Now you can face the test with confidence and remember that a smooth-running car can only make motoring safer, cleaner and more enjoyable.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: