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When do I need an MOT?

All vehicles are legally required to undergo an MOT test three years after they were registered – and then every year after that (until they reach 40 years old, when they become exempt, as they are then classified as a historic classic car).

In Northern Ireland, cars are due their first MOT after four years, rather than the three years in mainland UK. There, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) advises customers to book their vehicle test (MOT) when they get a reminder notice. Delayed bookings carry the risk that the MOT certificate expires (ends) before the vehicle test is booked.

An MOT isn’t expensive, with the maximum fee a test centre can charge you being £54.85 for a car. And you have plenty of time to play with when your MOT is up for renewal: you can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date.

But if you fail to comply with the law and are caught driving without a valid MOT certificate, you can be prosecuted and could be liable to a £1,000 fine.

To be sure of not missing your MOT, you can use a free online service, gov.uk/mot-reminder, to set up a reminder. The service will then automatically let you know when your MOT is due

 

Pre-MOT inspection

As the old saying goes forewarned is forearmed, so if you want your car checked before it undergoes its MOT, your local Suzuki dealer can perform a free 10-point pre-MOT visual inspection.

Any issues that are easy to fix, but could lead to a test failure, can be remedied – and could help you avoid paying a fee to have it retested after failing.

Preparing for the MOT - What gets checked?

Knowing what gets checked in an MOT could help you identify any issues with your car before taking it in for an MOT. Our 10-step guide will take you a matter of minutes to spot any such problems – and could save you time, stress and money.

1. Headlights and indicators

All of your car’s lights have to work properly in order for it to pass an MOT, so check the headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.

2. Brake lights

If you can get someone to help you, they can check that the rear brake lights (including any brake strip lights) come on when you press the brake pedal. If you have to test alone, reverse up to a reflective surface (a window or garage door, for example) and look behind to see for yourself.

3. Number plate

Your car’s number plate has to be clean and legible, while the font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements, to pass the MOT. A quick wipe with a cloth could even make a difference, so give it a quick once-over.

4. Wheels and tyres

Wheels and tyres need to be undamaged in order to pass the MOT. So, for example, any tyres with less than the minimum legal tyre tread depth of 1.6mm will be marked as an MOT fail. If you’re not sure how much tread is left on a tyre, your local Suzuki Service Centre will be able to check it for you. The fully qualified staff can also advise on the correct type of replacement tyre that is right for your car, if required.

5. Seats and seatbelts

Another requirement of the MOT is that the driver's seat should adjust forwards and backwards, and all seatbelts should be in working order: so test the range of movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt (its full length) for any sign of damage. You should also tug sharply on all seatbelts, to check that the inertia-reel system reacts correctly, locking if you have to brake suddenly and sharply.

6. Windscreen

You’ll also need to carefully inspect your car’s windscreen to look for damage: any damage larger than 40mm will result in an MOT fail, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen – a 290mm-wide area directly in front of the driver that is within the area covered by the windscreen wipers.

7. Windscreen wipers

Your windscreen wipers have to keep your windscreen clean in order to pass the MOT. Any tears, holes or excessive wear in the wiper rubber can result in a fail.

8. Screenwash 

Make sure that the washer reservoir is topped up with plenty of water and screenwash before taking the car in for a test. Windscreen washers not working or not spraying enough fluid to clear the windscreen constitutes a major fail.

9. Horn 

Beep your horn to make sure that it’s working: if it isn’t, your dealer will have to repair or replace it in order for your car to pass the MOT.

10. Fuel and engine oil

Your car must be filled with enough fuel and engine oil in order for an MOT test to be conducted: it can be turned away from the MOT testing garage if the levels of either are too low, because both are required to run the car to test its emissions levels. If you need advice about the type of oil that should be used, ask your local Suzuki Service Centre.

Remember: when checking fluid levels or handling parts, such as bulbs, that could be become hot to the touch, you should make sure that the vehicle has had an opportunity to cool down fully, which should take at least 10 minutes after switching off the engine.

Tyre Grip Table

As the tread is the part of the tyre that comes into contact with the road, it's important to make sure you're not driving with dangerously worn tyres. Not sure if you are? Take a look at this table:

Tyre tread depth What does it mean? What should I do?
4mm Your tyre is 62% worn Inspect monthly
3mm Your tyre is 78% worn Recommend changing it now
1.6mm Your tyre is 100% worn This is the legal minimum so should be replaced immediately