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What is a Motor Vehicle MOT?

Lights & Electrics

  • Lights
    All lights: including head, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights must:

    • Be in excellent working condition
    • Be correctly positioned
    • Not be obscured
    • Securely intact
    • Emit the correct colour

    Additionally, so as not to dazzle other drivers, the aim of both headlights (dip beam and main beam) must be below the horizontal.

  • Horn
    When operating the horn, it must sound a continuous uniform note and must be loud enough to be heard by another road user.
  • Battery
    The battery must be secure, dry and not show any signs of acid leakage.
  • Electrical wiring
    Wiring should not show any signs of wear or be damaged, thus looking likely to short circuit or become detached.
    Note: Vehicles with a towbar will be tested to show it correctly operates the trailer parking lights, brake lights, indicators and rear fog lights.
  • Speedometer
    A speedometer must be fitted, and the tester will check that it can be illuminated. It does not matter if the dial glass is cracked as long as the speed can be read.

Steering and suspension

  • Steering
    A mechanic will check the condition and strength of the steering wheel by pushing in various directions and inspecting for wear or damage to the steering column components. Should your steering has a locking device, this be tested to confirm it only locks when the engine is not running. Vehicles with power steering will be checked that the minimum level of power steering fluid is present in the reservoir.
  • Suspension
    Suspension components and shock absorbers will be checked for distortion, corrosion and fractures.


As well as undertaking a brake performance test, the condition of the brakes, pedals and levers are closely inspected.


Tyre tread depth must not be below the legal limit of 1.6mm. Tyres will also be examined for cuts and tears in excess of 25mm. Warning light must operate correctly for vehicles with run-flat tyres.

Seat belts

Each seat belt (including the attachment and adjustment fittings) will be checked for its security and condition.


A general inspection is made of the body, chassis, engine mountings, seats and doors. All components must be free from excessive corrosion and must not have any sharp edges that might cause injury.

A registration plate must be fitted at the front and rear. The plates must be secure and clearly legible to someone standing 20 metres away from the car. The characters on the plate must be correctly formed and spaced and not likely to be misread.

Every vehicle must permanently display a legible VIN, either on a VIN plate secured to the vehicle, or stamped or etched on the body or chassis.

Exhaust, fuel and emissions

  • Exhaust system
    The exhaust system will be inspected to ensure it is secure and doesn't leak. If your vehicle was originally fitted with a catalytic converter, it must still be present.
  • Fuel system
    The fuel system will be checked for leaks and the tank cap must seal properly.
  • Emissions
    The mechanic will use a gas analyser probe while the engine is running to test the smoke emitted from the exhaust. Emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons must fall within the legal limit.

The tester will make a visual check for excessive dense blue or black smoke emitted from the exhaust, which is a cause for MOT failure.

Driver's view of the road

  • Mirrors and wipers
    Rear view mirrors and wing mirrors must be securely attached to the vehicle and provide adequate views to the rear and side. Wipers and washers must sweep a wide enough area to give the driver an good view of the road.
  • Windscreen
    In the area of the windscreen directly in front of the driver, there must not be any damage or obstruction to the view larger than 10mm. Outside this area (but within the swept area), there must not be any damage or other obstruction larger than 40mm.

If you have any questions or want to book your car for an MOT test at Temple Normanton Testing Centre in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, please contact us.


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