5 Super Common Mistakes for a Failed MOT Test


Your annual MOT test is an important signal that your car is in great working order, and of course safe to be on the UK's busy road network. Passing this test should be a simple matter, but sometimes quite silly things are the reason for a fail. In this post I'm going to be sharing five super-simple (but shockingly common) reasons for an MOT failure, and ways to help you to avoid these.

No Screen Wash

It doesn't matter if your windscreen is beautifully sparkling clean - if there is no screen-wash in the reservoir, you will receive a fail on the MOT. This is because driving can be unpredictable: a sudden rain shower can cause the car in front to throw a film of mud on your windscreen, a swarm of insects might be too slow to get out of the way, or a careless fellow driver might chuck the dregs of their coffee out of the window without realising that you are in the path of the flying liquid. In each of these cases, your visibility will become highly compromised until you can clean it off, and you won't be able to rectify this without any screen wash/ A handy tip for this is to buy a larger bottle of wash, and keep the remainder in the boot of the car so you can top up regularly. Of course a regular check of this is also essential!

Having an Unreadable Numberplate

It is a legal requirement that your numberplate should be easily readable at all times, especially when on the road. And it is not the MOT inspector's job to clean a dirty numberplate at the beginning of the test – it is your responsibility. Check your numberplate every now and then as all sorts of things can mount up to make it unreadable. These include damage causing a distortion or loss of one or more of the numbers or letters, fine road dust smothering the high-viz surrounds of the numberplate, or mud plastered to the back of the car. Make sure to check more regularly in the poorer weather months, as dirty road conditions are more likely to have an affect.

Faulty Lightbulbs

The most common MOT fail is with the lights. Many of these issues boil down to a lightbulb having burned out. It is almost embarrassing to fail the MOT because you forgot to check your lightbulbs and spend three pounds or so on a replacement to fit yourself! Of course, sometimes the issues with the lights are more serious, but by testing it with a new lightbulb, you will at least be aware that there is a problem. If you don't think you can change the bulb yourself there are many garages that will help to fit these for you, but you may have to pay a little extra for this service.


Not only must you wear your seatbelt when driving, but the seatbelts must be fit for the purpose. Give your seatbelts a check before you book your MOT test and make sure that they lock when tugged sharply, click firmly into place when put on, and are not very worn and tattered. Any of these are understandably a point of concern for the MOT inspector!

Having a Dirty Car

Your MOT inspector will not fail your car if it is indescribably filthy, but he or she can refuse point-blank to test it at all. Which is the equivalent of a fail before the test has even begun. Once you've booked your test, take out anything which does not need to be in there (car seats for example if you have a family car), ensure that the windows and mirrors are perfectly clean, and perhaps even get the vehicle valeted so it looks and smells nice for the MOT inspector. 

Now you know some things to look out for and are ready to book your test, make sure to book asap. You can get DVSA approved MOTs in London at Elite Direct with peace of mind and confidence.

This is a collaborative post.

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