Does the prospect of your car’s next MOT fill you with dread? MOT is short for Ministry of Transport test. For many of us however, it might as well stand for Method of Torture.
You can take some of the pain out of the MOT by being prepared. By getting your car ready for its test you can even reduce the cost along the way.
Check and replace your own lightbulbs
I recently replaced the front headlight on my car and felt heroic when my hamfisted blundering around under the bonnet led to the bulb being successfully replaced. I completely failed in my first attempt but a quick trip to YouTube led to a tutorial that even I could understand.
The advantage of replacing your own bulbs is that you can shop around to find a cheap bulb (I got mine online) and you don’t have to pay for a mechanic to fit it for you.
Use a 20p coin to check the tread on your tyres
By law you need to have 1.66mm of tread on your tyres. There are fancy tools which will help you to measure the exact amount of tread you’ve got but it’s also possible to check your tyre tread with a 20p coin.
Driving on tyres without enough tread isn’t just illegal, it’s also dangerous. Less tread means a less sturdy grip on icy or oily roads, so this isn’t something worth taking any chances on. It’s much better to sort this sort of thing out before the MOT comes up, rather than waiting for the bill to arrive.
Change your wiper blades
A big part of driving is being able to see where you’re going, so having your windscreen wipers working is essential. Take a look at your wiper blades to make sure they’re in good condition. A sign they’re not will be if your windscreen has wet streaky bits on it when you’re driving in the rain.
Changing wiper blades can be a bit of a fiddly job but it’s something that most people will be able to do themselves. If you need some help there are videos on YouTube to help you replace wiper blades.
Your number plate counts, too!
Always ensure that your number plates are clean and legible before you go for your MOT. Giving it a quick wash with some soapy water will do the trick. The font and spacing of letters must also meet legal requirements in order to pass.
Check your oil
Engine oil is an essential lubricant that keeps everything running smoothly. It also prevents corrosion, rusting and overheating of the engine. Without the right amount of oil, your car will soon grind to a screeching, spark-spitting halt, and can set you back a tidy sum when trying to get it fixed.
Always make sure that your car is filled with enough engine oil (and fuel!) before you go for your MOT. If you’re unsure about the type of oil that should be used, ask your manufacturer’s main dealer or look in the user manual.
Shop around (but be careful)
The cost of an MOT test for cars is capped at £54.85 but many centres offer reductions. Before jumping on board with the cheapest offer you can find it’s worth being cautious.
MoneySavingExpert.com suggest that cheap MOT deals can be a way for garages to tempt you in so they can then make money on the repair costs. They suggest that council-run MOT test centres can work out cheaper as most don’t do repairs and will therefore have no incentive to look for faults that don’t exist.
Put your car in for its MOT early
It might be tempting to leave putting your car in for its MOT until the last minute but it might be a better idea to put it in early. You’re allowed to put your car in for its MOT up to a month before the date and still keep the anniversary date.
By putting your car in early you’re giving yourself more time to get things sorted out if there are unexpected problems that crop up.
It’s not always practical to save up for major repairs but most cars are going to need some routine maintenance such as new tyres, brake pads and the like. Putting money aside every month will help spread the cost over the year.
If you’re not sure how much to save then it’s worth thinking about how much your car has cost you in the last few years and averaging that out.
Prepare for the worst
Get a rough idea of how much your car is worth before the MOT. If you end up with an expensive repair bill you may have to work out if it’s worth fixing your car. Spending £1,500 to fix a car that’s worth £1,000 doesn’t really make sense, so knowing the value can save you throwing good money after bad!
Over to you…
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