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A guide to MOT Part-3

Permit to Travel Published: 21st Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A guide to MOT Part-3
A guide to MOT Part-3 The cleaner the chassis, the more impressed the tester although ultra clean dampers etc can mean a dodge
A guide to MOT Part-3 Don’t let your car fail on silly items you should have checked and rectified at home such as wipers, bulbs
A guide to MOT Part-3 The biggest fear a classic owner has is finding a station where they handle the old car with care and respect

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In the final part of Dan Bindon’s comprehensive guide, we look at how to not get caught out by minor yet important points which will prevent you from getting that precious VT20


Most classics are checked to a minimumstandard of emissions testing, whereby they are examined for ‘excessive’ smoke. Don’t be surprised if the tester still operates the gas analyser to do this. VOSA staff like to see that the smoke machine has been used by testers for every test. Of course, if your car is made post 1975, then it falls into VOSA’s emissions testing whereby the levels of CO, Carbon Monoxide, and HC, unburnt Hydrocarbons in the exhaust are measured. To help your car pass these tests, ensure that the air filter is new, and that the car has been recently serviced and tuned. Check all crankcase breathers are clear and working, and take the car on a good long run – more than 20 miles – to ensure it is fully warmed before the test. In addition, make sure the manual choke pushes fully off, as excessive enrichment can cause a failure, and will also cost you in miles per gallon! Some engines have to be adjusted to get through the test, BMC A-Series are notorious for this, and then need re-setting to where they run happily afterwards. If your car is fitted with cambelts, be prepared to show the tester receipts for their maintenance and changing at the correct intervals. He can refuse to test if you cannot prove it, as he is liable if the engine goes pop during the emissions test owing to aged belts - bet you didn’t know that! Finally, ensure your oil level is correctly set before the test. Nominated testers must check oil levels before emissions testing, and if they need to top up because you haven’t are entitled to charge full retail on the litre or so of oil theymight use. Plus it is unlikely they’ll be putting in 20/50, or whatever your car takes, as modern garages stock the oils to suitmodern cars using much thinner viscosity lubricants.

Drivers view of the road

Coming under this topic are windscreens, wipers and washers. If your car is of an age to be fitted with an opening windscreen, it doesn’t need to have a screenwasher or wipers. But all windscreens must be ‘undamaged’, though this criterion is stipulated into three zones. Zone A is centred on the steering wheel and 290mm wide, through the wiper-swept area. If you have no wipers, then tough – Zone A extends to the top and bottom of the ‘screen. Damage in Zone A means any impairment to vision not contained within a 10mm diameter circle. Stickers can also cause a failure if not of an ‘official’ nature and conforming to this measurement. The remainder of the swept area is called, Zone B, and has a size limitation of 40mm, while the rest of the ‘screen is Zone C and can have damage of any size. Sun visors on the driver’s side must be able to stay in the up position, so if yours drops down, tape it up. Passenger visors can pass like this, as it affects the driver’s view less. Wiper blades must adequately clear the glass, but with most classics having appallingly slow and inefficient wipers anyway, you keepthem renewed every season don’t you? Washersmust deliver ‘sufficient liquid to adequately clear the ‘screen’, and you can check this by operating them, and make sure the reservoir is topped before submitting the car for test.


Many of the steering checks can be made when you inspect the front suspension. Track rod ends, and tie rod ends on the steering rack must be checked for lack of wear. Steering boxes shouldn’t have excess lift or be tight. The sector shaft, the freewheeling pin on the non-driver side should be lacking in wear too. Needless to say, all steering components shouldn’t be loose either, though with some cars, such as Jaguar, expect some slight movement in steering rack D bushes that secure the rack to the bulkhead. With the wheels off the ground, move the roadwheels from side to side to examine precision of movement. Finally, get a pry bar in between the bottom ball joint and bottom arm to look for ‘lift’ in it.


Front seatbelts, must be fitted to cars made after 1965 and where fitted, must be securely mounted, have no wear on the webbing and latch securely. Stalk mounts shouldn’t be frayed either. Seatbelt body mountings form a prescribed area, so any corrosion within 30cm of a mount is an automatic failure. If the belt mounts on a seat, then the seat mountings form that prescribed area. There is no check for inertia operation, but if your belts don’t lock with a sharp pull, then you will want to replace them for your own safety and security, though they will pass the test in thisstate. Inertia belts must, however fully retract, ensuring that there is no loose webbing for the wearer. Rear belts are mandatory for cars made after 1985, though the rules as to which seats must have three or two point belts are complex. Read up further on a specialised MoT website if your car falls into that category. Front seat backs should ‘secure in the upright position’, though in reality cars such as early Minis, while conforming to this letter of the law,often fall foul of over-zealous testers who assume the whole seat should latch down at the rear. If your Mini fails for this reason, point out that the unlatched tipping seat is an original design.

For the future

As you read this, VOSA has increased theapplicability of the test in a few areas. Number plates must not have 3D backgrounds any more, so you’ll fail if you have fitted plates withthem on now. Towbars and tow brackets now form part of the prescribed area, so if you have a towbar on and your boot floor is a bit corroded, you’ll either fail the test, need to weld the floor within 30cm of the tow bracket, or remove it completely. Tow balls are examined for wear, though if a tow ball cover is fitted, the tester is stupidly not allowed to remove it! On my recent Nominated tester’s refresher course, one which all testers have to undergo every five years, the VOSA trainer commented on how the organisation expects there to be only 6000 (down from the current 18000) test stations by the time ATL status becomes mandatory by 2015. So if you have a good relationship with your station and Nominated Tester, ask whether they are planning on the upgrades necessary to comply with becoming an ATL testing station by 2015. If they are quitting you may need to look for one that is to ensure your future ease of testing with a garage you trust. Finally bodging. Yes you can fool at tester but who are you fooling in the long run?

    MOT Misconceptions


  • The spare tyre must be good and legal as the car passed its test

    No, spare tyres are not part of the test and are not examined by the tester.


  • The car must be in good condition because it has just passed a test

    No, a test pass is a signifier that the car met a certain number of conditions on the day it was presented. Yes, the test is a good barometer of a car’s condition, but if your potential purchase was tested more than three months ago, then many items may now fall into a reason-for-rejection category.


  • The speedometer doesn’t work so I need to get it fixed for the MoT

    No, speedos and odometers are not part of the test. Though if you continually present a car year after year with the same mileage reading, then the tester will probably issue an advisory notice to that effect to cover his own backside.


  • The windscreen passed last year with that chip or crack damage

    It may have, but damage in windscreens can grow as the car is driven and its body flexes in use.

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