Back to Stash

The Rundown: MOTs. How to Cut Costs Not Quality

‘The MOT’s due.’ Three little words that every driver dreads.

As a car clocks up the years, keeping it roadworthy can be a bit of a bumpy ride.  The fee for the annual MOT test is not the problem, with the average car costing £54.85. It’s the work required that can hike up the bill.

The good news is, you can significantly cut the cost of your MOT without compromising on quality by following a few simple pain-relieving check points.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Check – your car manual. As good a place as any to start. It will have a section on general maintenance and useful advice for keeping your car in good nick.
  • Check – lightbulbs. If any need replacing, shop around for the cheapest. The manual will explain how to do it or search for help online. It’ll save you the price of a mechanic changing them for you.
  •  Check – your wiper blades. You’ll know they need replacing if there are streaky marks on the windscreen. They’re cheap to buy but can be a bit fiddly to fit. Online videos will help you get the job done.
  • Check – your oil. Most of us wait until the red warning light flashes to get the dipstick out, which is a big mistake. Engine oil is the essential lubricant that keeps everything running smoothly.
  • Check – your tread. There are lots of expensive gadgets available to measure the tread on your tyres, but you can use the 20p piece trick. The legal requirement is 1.66mm. Place the 20p in one of the grooves of your tread. If you can see some of the outer edge of the coin, then your tyres may be illegal and unlikely to pass the MOT. Perform the test on all parts of the tread, on all four tyres to get a rough idea of condition.
  • Check – your tyre pressure. Tyres will eventually need to be replaced no matter how carefully you drive. But make sure yours are not over, or under, inflated, to keep them in the best possible condition.
  • Check – number plates. The font and spacing must meet legal requirements to pass the MOT. Give them a wash with warm, soapy water so they’re clean and legible.
  • Check – your temperature. Make sure your car is fully warmed up before leaving it at the MOT centre. Rev up the engine at the last minute as this will help clear the gases out that can cause a car to fail its emissions test.
  • Check – the credentials of the garage. MOT test centres are regulated, but we’ve all heard about the ones who find problems that don’t exist. Word of mouth is the best recommendation, so ask around for some reliable reviews.
  • Check – for a second opinion. If your car is in good condition and fails, its MOT on a subjective factor – i.e. based on the mechanic’s opinion rather than fact – take it to another garage for a second opinion. It’s worth noting that Council-run MOT centres don’t do repair work so have no vested interest in finding faults.

On a final point, it’s always worth putting your car in for its MOT a month early. If it passes, you’ve got a certificate that lasts 13 months. If it fails, you can see why and shop around to get the most competitive quotes for work required. Always use a garage that offers free re-tests.