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Every vehicle in the UK needs to be tested each year to ensure that it complies with roadworthiness standards. If you have a car that is more than 3 years old, it will need an MOT test each year to ensure that it meets at least the minimum road safety and environmental standards.

Safe n Sound will prepare you car for its MOT inspection and carry any works required should it fail

The following is a complete list of the checks your vehicle will undergo during its MOT Test. While this list groups the checks under each component, the Tester will carry out the checks in a specific sequence designed to save time, Testing all under-vehicle items or under-bonnet items at the same time for example.

*New items added in 2012 are highlighted yellow or organge. Some of these items, highlighted yellow, have been incorporated into the MOT Test since 1st January 2012, and while the others (which arehighlighted orange) were originally scheduled to be incorporated by May 2012, this was delayed until 20th March 2013. Whilst these items were inspected, if found defective a failure did not apply and they were ‘Advised’ only, and not recorded as a ‘Fail’ on the MOT computer. As of Wednesday 20th March 2013 these items, if defective, will result in an MOT failure.

It should be noted, however, that those motorists whose vehicles have recently been failed (prior to March 20th), and where the vehicle also had one of those ‘advisory’ items flagged up, on re-test, (on or after March 20th) unless that ‘advisory’ is repaired, the vehicle will now fail the MOT.

It is important, therefore, for motorists presenting vehicles for MOT retest, make sure that such previously ‘advisory’, but now ‘failure’ items are indeed properly repaired before presenting the vehicle for an MOT re-Test.

*As noted in ‘Matters of Testing’ 52, issued December 2011.

MOT Testing Check List

MOT Test of the Instrument Panel

Note: Some items listed under this heading are repeated here for convenience, as they are warnings or function indicators of systems which are more fully described under their own headings.


For vehicles first used on or after 01 October 1937

The glass being cracked is not a reason for failure providing there is no possibility of misreading the speedometer, no possibility of the indicator needle being fouled or the cracked glass being a safety hazard.

Will be checked for:

  • Presence
  • Condition
  • Can be illuminated

Steering – Warning Indicators

An electronic steering lock malfunction lock warning must not be indicating a malfunction

  • An electronic power steering malfunction indicator lamp must not be indicating a malfunction

Lights – function indicator

  • ‘tell-tale’ device does not iluminate when main beam is selected

Supplementary Restraint Systems – Warning Indicator

  • SRS Malfunction Indicator Lamp:
  • Inoperative
  • Indicating malfunction


Brakes – Warning indicators

  • Electronic parking Brake (EPB) warning device must not be indicating a malfunction
  • ESC warning lamp must be present, working and not indicating a fault
  • ESC Switch must not be insecure or faulty
  • A brake fluid warnimg lamp must not be inoperative or illuminated
  • Class (v): Electronic braking system (EBS) warning device must not be inoperative or indicating a fault
  • ABS and ESC components and associated wiring/switch checked for presence and condition

Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Systems – Warning Indicator

Warning Lamp

  • Missing
  • Does not illuminate
  • Indicates a fault
  • (For ABS) does not follow the correct sequence


  • Switch faulty or insecure

Tyres – Warning Indicator

  • A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning lamp must be operative and not indicating a fault in the system


MOT Test of Registration Plates and VIN*

* Required on all vehicles first used on or after 1st August 1980.
NOTE: Revised Registration Plate Testing and Tow Bar Testing (see below) were effective from April 09.
see current Number Plate Regulationss table below.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

  • VIN number incomplete

Registration Plate

For registered vehicles the registration plate must be:

  • Present
  • Secure
  • Not faded, dirty or obscured
  • Letters and digits must conform to the approved font design with correct spacing
  • Front plates must be black digits on white background, rear must be black on yellow
  • Honeycomb background is not allowed.

Vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1973 may have registration plates displaying white, grey or silver characters on a black background. A three-wheeled vehicle, which has a motorcycle derived front end, does not require a front number plate.

Vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1973 may have registration plates displaying white, grey or silver characters on a black background. Three-dimensional characters are permitted to use grey edging in order to achieve the 3D effect on any age of vehicle. Quadricycles must be fitted with a front number plate.

MOT Registration Plate Specifications

Relevant Dimension Tricycles & quadricycles All other vehicles
Character height 64mm 79mm
Character width
(except for the figure 1 or letter I)
44mm 50mm
Stroke width 10mm 14mm
Space between two characters in group 10mm 11mm
Vertical space between groups of characters 13mm 19mm
Horizontal space between groups of characters 30mm 33mm
Margins (minimum) 11mm 11mm

The VIN number* must be:

  • Permanently displayed
  • Consistent
  • Legible.

*Required on all vehicles first used on or after 1st August 1980.

MOT Test of Tow Bar (Towing Hook)

Reason for Rejection:

  • A towbar component insecure, fractured or excessively worn, corroded or damaged
  • Excessive corrosion within 30cms of the towbar mounting is also a fail.
  • Towbar assembly is attached to the vehicle structure using a mounting, support or fixing which is obviously of an inappropriate size or type.
  • Retaining device missing or insecure
  • Locking device missing, insecure, inadequate or damaged to the extent that its operation is impaired.
  • Excessive play between a detachable tow ball and its receiver socket
  • A quick release mechanism that does not secure the tow ball arm as intended
  • A towbar assembly inappropriately repaired or modified
  • A trailer electrical socket insecure or damaged, or deteriorated to the extent that the connecting lead could not be securely connected
  • A trailer 13-pin Euro socket not operating the trailer lamps as intended
  • Wiring showing exposed conductors

2012 Notes: 1. Does not include emergency towing eyes. If a tow ball or pin is not fitted at the time of Test e.g. because it is detachable, has been unbolted or otherwise removed, but the attachment brackets are still in place these brackets and any trailer electrical socket should still be assessed unless the attachment brackets have been deliberately rendered unfit for further use.

2. 13-pin electric socket inspection and test for electrical function (specialist tool will be used) and check for inappropriate towbar repairs/modification will come into force when the appropriate legislation has been passed.

3. 7-pin sockets are not testable with an electrical tester as there is no standard wiring protocol.

MOT Test of Steering

Steering: Inside the car MOT checks

Steering wheel and steering column:

  • Steering wheel is in acceptable condition
  • Steering wheel is securely attached to the steering shaft
  • A steering lock mechanism must not be missing, inadvertently engaging or inoperative
  • An electronic steering lock malfunction lock warning must not be indicating a malfunction
  • An electronic power steering malfunction indicator lamp must not be indicating a malfunction
  • Upper bearings of the steering column are inspected for wear
  • Steering shaft is checked for excessive end float
  • The clamping bolts are all checked for security
  • Split pins and locking nuts are also checked.
  • ‘Free play’ in the steering is checked*
  • All flexible couplings and universal joints are checked

*Free play allowed depends on type of steering: 75mm for non-rack and pinion, 13mm for rack and pinion steering. Where there are several joints between the steering wheel and the rack, up to 48mm on a 380mm diameter wheel may be accepted.

Further information – reasons for failure:

1. Steering wheel weakened by modification, cracks, fractures, in a condition that hampers proper control or likely to injure the driver’s hands.
Note: Cracks or incompleteness of the covering skin of a steering wheel or hub, are not a reason for rejection.
2. a) an adjustable steering column will not lock in a fixed position
b) movement between the shaft and steering wheel
c) excessive radial movement (play) at the top of the steering column between the column and the shaft indicating a badly worn top bearing.
Note: Some vehicles have flexible top bearings for the steering column. With these more than average movement is acceptable.
d. insecurity at the steering column top mounting bracket.
3. Excessive steering shaft end float.
4. Insecurity, excessive play or deterioration of a flexible coupling or universal joint.
5. A retaining or locking device missing or insecure.

Under bonnet checks

This varies vehicle to vehicle; some of these items cannot be observed from under the bonnet on some makes and models.

  • Security of the steering rack or steering box and its mountings
  • Play in steering joints
  • Inspection of any other swivel joints which form part of the vehicles’ steering system which can be readily inspected from under the bonnet.

Under vehicle checks:

All the steering joints are inspected by the Tester whilst the steering is loaded by turning the steering wheel from side to side, or by the use of approved wheel play detectors

Power steering systems are checked with the engine running (Power steering fluid level will be checked with engine off)

The security of attachment of the steering rack or steering box is checked both with respect to the tightness of nuts and bolts, and structural cracking or corrosion of the vehicle chassis where it is attached

Whilst the vehicle stands on special swivel plates the wheels are turned from lock to lock and checked for smoothness of operation and to ensure that the wheels and tyres do not foul either the structure of the vehicle or any brake pipes or hoses

With the wheels jacked the wheel bearings are checked
Steering rack gaiters and front outer constant velocity joint boots are examined
Ball joint dust covers inspected for not allowing ingress of dirt etc
Metal and/or rubber bushes are checked as are split pins, locking nuts and other locking or retaining devices which relate to steering components.
On some cars there will be rear wheel steering which is checked from beneath the car.
Checked for inappropriate repair or modification to steering linkage or power steering
Steering lock stop must be present if fitted as standard
No significant oil leak from the steering box
Power steering: checked for fluid level below minimum (where visible) pipes and hoses damaged, corroded or fouling; components fouling or misaligned on external power steering systems
Any drive shaft (not including the prop shaft) support bearing excessively worn or a coupling gaiter missing or no longer preventing ingress of dirt etc.

MOT Test of Horn

  • Operation
  • Control can be easily reached by the driver
  • Loud enough
  • Not a sequential multi-tone.

Further Information


Pre 1906 vehicles can have a gong, bell or siren audible warning, provided they were designed before 1 January 1905 and constructed before 31 December 1905.

Reason for Rejection

  • The horn control missing, insecure or not readily accessible to the driver.

Note: Inform the driver if the horn is insecure.

Or the horn is

  • inoperative
  • is not loud enough to be heard by another road user
  • is a gong, bell or siren
  • has more than one tone

Note: When operated, a two or more tone horn automatically produces a sound which alternates at regular intervals between fixed notes

If fitted to a vehicle first used on or after 1 August 1973, emits a sound which is

  • Not continuous or uniform
  • Harsh or grating

MOT Test of Lights

The headlamps are checked for alignment with a Beam Setter. The headlamp beam image will be a fail if it is clearly incorrect. After first aligning the equipment with the vehicle, the left and right headlamp beams are checked to ensure they are correctly set so as not to dazzle other road users.

All required lights are checked for:

  • Operation
  • Condition
  • Security

With the exception of headlamps, all lamps must have at least 50% of the light source illuminating.
All lamps must be visible from a reasonable distance (not obscured by products on the light lens or source.

Side lights and headlamps

  • are the correct type and colour
  • dip and aim
  • LED and HiD headlamps: automatic levelling or cleaning device inoperative or obviously defective
  • ‘tell-tale’ device does not iluminate when main beam is selected

Stop lights, indicators and hazard lights*

  • are the correct type and colour
  • do not interfere with each other in operation
  • driver’s tell-tale works with respect to indicators, or there is an audible warning system
  • hazard lights fitted and operative

Rear Fog lamps**

  • must be fitted to the centre or offside of the vehicle
  • tell-tale must work
  • must not be affected by other lamps and not be obscured
  • must be red.

Registration Plate lamps (Class (v): incl. end outline marker lamps)

  • All lamps fitted must be working
  • must illuminate with a single operation of the switch

Rear reflectors

There must be two red reflectors fitted reasonably symmetrically, securely attached and not obscured.

* Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1986, but if fitted, must be Tested.
** Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1980.

MOT Test of Bonnet Catch

Reasons for Failure:

  • A bonnet that cannot be safely secured in the closed position
  • An excessively deteriorated, ineffective or insecure (bonnet) retaining device

MOT Test of Doors

  • Both front doors must be openable from the inside and outside and all doors must latch securely.
  • a passenger door must open from the outside using relevant control
  • All door hinges, catches and pillars to be assessed for door readily opening and closing, and security

Tailgates, bootlids etc.

All these items, including the tailboards and dropsides of trucks must be securable in the closed position.