As a nation we are all closely monitoring the latest developments with the COVID-19 outbreak; the impact of this global crisis has touched us all. Above all else, the priority remains our safety and well-being, particularly at this challenging time.
A big part of keeping well is having access to food and medicine. For some of us, a safe functioning vehicle, ready in that time of need, is essential to assist with travel for those basic needs.
But now with the choice to defer your MOT for six months, how can you guarantee your vehicle is fit for purpose?
The official line from the DVSA as of Wednesday, March 25, 09:05 was this:
All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020.
Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.
OK, that’s loud and clear, but the purpose of an annual MOT test is to check the vehicle safety and road-worthiness; required in the United Kingdom for most vehicles over three years old.
The MOT involves dozens of checks on your car, ranging from the brakes and fuel system to lights, mirrors, seat belts, windscreen wipers and exhaust system. It doesn’t cover the condition of the engine, clutch and gearbox.
If your car was due it’s MOT test and you need to determine a measure of roadworthy condition of your vehicle, please read on to learn what basic checks you can perform at home to avoid the most common failures.
If you find any issue with your vehicle that you are unhappy with or are unsure about, as a safety precaution please contact your closest available mechanic.
Home Vehicle Checks
One of the most common failures of a car is the lights. It’s really straight forward to check them:
First start the car, ensure the car is out of gear and handbrake is on. Turn on the headlights and check from the front of the car if they work. The tail lights should now also be illuminated, so check those as well as the number plate lights. Now switch on the left indicator and check all three orange lights on the left flash together. Now check the right. You’ll have to do the same for the
front and rear fog lights. To check your main beam headlights and the brake lights it helps to have another person to check
for you, but if you are on your own, you can always move the car against a wall that’s not in direct sunlight and you should be
able to see the glow of the lights.
The next safety check is the tyres. The legal minimum is 1.6mm and the tread depth should be consistent across the face of the tyre. Both the inner and outer sidewalls should be free of
The wiper blades are essential to driving in wet weather and if they do not clear the windscreen efficiently they will fail.
Check the blades to make sure they are all in one piece and then from the inside of the car, squirt the washer fluid and watch how
the wipers clear the water. If the glass is smeared or streaky you’ll probably need replacements. The washer fluid is also
critical, so make sure you open the bonnet and top-up as needed.
While the bonnet is up you can also check the engine oil level using the dip-stick, and the coolant and brake fluid are all at safe levels by looking at the maximum and minimum markers.
The brakes will need checking over to confirm that the face of the large round discs are smooth, and there is enough friction material
left on the brake pads. The legal minimum level for a brake pad is 1.5mm. The less pad you have, the more ineffective the brakes will be. Less friction material means less heat dissipation, which in turn means your brakes could overheat. The pads are located either side of the brake disc. If you look carefully, you might be able to see the disc and the brake pads through the gaps in your wheel. A good torch would help!
Suspension faults are another really common failure point, but a bit more difficult to spot so the best you can do is to listen out for any knocks, squeaks or rattles as you drive. Any of these noises could indicate a fault and should be checked by a
The exhaust is another one to listen out for. If it starts to sound like a tractor or a race car it probably needs attention.
Exhaust leaks will normally fail an emissions test as it will release harmful gasses and could affect your fuel consumption.
If you would like more information on checking your vehicle is safe to drive, you could visit this government web page to reference their list of basic vehicle safety checks: https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-safe.