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Common MOT mistakes

Over the course of this year many of our cars have remained still, and the delayed MOTs have reflected that. However soon it’ll be time for everyone to go for that check-up, and with little use being made of our vehicles it’s important to remember everything you should be keeping an eye on to keep your vehicle safe and MOT ready.

In this guide we’ll look at some of the most common things people forget to check before getting a MOT.

Lights & signals

Checking your bulbs is simple enough but could make the difference between passing and failing your MOT. Make sure all lights and indications are working, replacing any blown bulbs as needed. You might need help with checking some, like the brake lights.  It’s also worth giving the plastic lenses a wipe down.


Suspension issues account for one in 10 MOT failures, so it’s important to keep up with servicing your car to prevent any potential suspension problems causing a failure. Unusual clunks, especially when turning corners or driving on patchy road surfaces, can be an indicator that there’s something that needs looking at, so if you’ve noticed anything then it’s best get it checked out as soon as possible.


There’s no set rule on how long your brake pads will last, but you can usually expect a set to last from between 25,000 – 60,000 miles. Screeching sounds, your car pulling to one side and a vibrating brake pedal are all signs that your brake pads are on the brink and need replacing. Have a check before your MOT and if there’s any issues, get them replaced.


You should be checking your tyres regularly to make sure they’re roadworthy. Legally, you’re required to have 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters of your tyres; a common trick to check is inserting a 20p coin, if you can see the outer band of the coin then the tread is too low and you need to replace your tyres.

Driver visibility

Being able to see the road properly is an absolute necessity for the driver, so before your MOT you should make sure there’s nothing obscuring your vision. This could include windscreen chips, sat-nav devices sat too high, dangling air fresheners and even a loose bonnet.


Your MOT will include inspections on your car’s steering, including power steering fluid, quality of parts and to make sure the steering lock mechanism works properly.


Mirrors should be clean and give a clear view.

Seatbelts & airbags

Seatbelts must retract and be free of knots and twists. Airbags should be fully-functional and you should make sure there aren’t any missing.

Registration plates

Make sure your registration plates are fully visible and the bulb to light it at night works properly.

Structure & body

Any sharp edges or dangerous body faults could risk you failing your MOT. If you’re concerned it might be worth getting your car serviced.

What do I do when I fail an MOT?

If your car fails its MOT with a dangerous fault, you can’t drive your vehicle. You’d need to seek repairs before being able to legally drive it again. Attempting to drive it without repairs could result in the driver being fined, banned from driving and given 3 penalty points.

If your MOT reveals a major fault you should be able to drive it to seek repairs- although the car must be roadworthy, or you would risk prosecution. You can only drive the car to be repaired, or to a pre-arranged MOT appointment. If there are dangerous faults, or if the car is unroadworthy, you can’t drive it.

Driving a car that’s failed its MOT risks severe consequences. You can appeal the result if you feel you were failed mistakenly.

You can:

  • Leave your car to be fixed
  • Take the car for repairs and return it within one working day for a free retest
  • Return your car within 10 days for a charged partial retest. After 10 working days you’ll be charged full price for another MOT.

If you can’t afford to fix your car, you could investigate selling the parts, scrap or sell ‘as is’.


What do I do if I can’t afford to fix my car?

Failing a MOT is stressful at the best of times, and sometimes the upfront repair costs just aren’t manageable. You’ll still need transport, and if you’re struggling to afford repair costs upfront, it’s likely that buying a new car outright might also be difficult.

Red Potato offers a range of affordable second hand cars and can help you get finance.  They specialise in bad credit and complicated financial situations, so if you can’t afford to buy a replacement car outright - or if you’re worried about how your credit might impact your ability to get finance - we can help.

All the cars we source finance for at Red Potato are sold under a hire purchase agreement.  This is one of the simplest forms of finance that allows you to pay in monthly instalments, instead of one bulk payment.

  • You submit an online application
  • We’ll need to see just a few basic documents, such as:
    o Your bank statements from the last 3 months
    o A copy of your full UK driving license
    o A DVLA validation code
    o Most recent payslips if employed
  • We then review your application and get in touch with you by phone to let you know if your application has been approved.

If successful you can find your car using our easy-to-use car search – or if you’ve found a car elsewhere, we can still provide you with competitive and affordable car finance. Representative 19.9% APR.

We consider all applications, even if you:

  • Have no deposit
  • Are in a Debt Management Plan (DMP), Trust Deed or Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)
  • Have a bad credit history
  • Are self-employed
  • Have a County Court Judgement (CCJ)
  • Previously have been declared bankrupt
  • Have any loan defaults due to missed payments

Enquire today about a car loan

This website is operated by Premium Plan Limited. Red Potato is a trading name of Premium Plan Limited, which is registered in England with Company No 05977118. Registered office: Kempton House, Kempton Way, PO Box 9562, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 0EA. Premium Plan Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 742272). The Red Potato name and logo are trademarks of Totemic Limited. Premium Plan Limited is a member of the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA).