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MoT Test: Harder Home Checks

Internal Steering System

The steering wheel must be in good condition. Deep cracks of pieces missing from the main covering of the wheel may result in a fail if the damage is bad enough to catch the driver's hand and impair movement as the wheel is used.

If the steering column is adjustable, it must be locked in place. If it won't lock correctly the car will fail.

To make sure the column is securely fitted, hold the wheel at the top and bottom then rock it gently. Make sure any movement found is not caused by a loose or damaged column mounting.

Hold the wheel at both sides and try to pull it away from the column towards you, any lift will indicate a loose clamp at the rack, or wear in the lower column point. Check the lower coupling and look for signs of wear.

Move the steering wheel with one hand whilst holding the joint with the other, and look for movement in the universal joint pins. Check that the pinch bolt is tight, and that there is no play in the splined joint to the rack.

Check the amount of free play at the wheel rim, with the road wheels in a straight ahead position. The tester will allow up to 13mm before any movement is deemed excessive. If the car has power steering the free play will be checked with the engine running. If the car has a steering box (ggt explain) then the free play allowed is up to 75mm.

The steering will be tested through its full movement for any tight or loose spots in the rack. A special device is used at the test station for this, but to mimic the test at home, slowly move the steering wheel through its full arc. This should allow you to feel any defects.

The steering lock mechanism, where fitted, must be securely mounted, and operational. With the engine on, the tester will turn the steering wheel through its full arc, if the lock engages the car will fail. If an electronic steering lock is fitted, the system will fail if the dash warning light is illuminated.

Internal Foot Brake System

The brake pedal must be in sound condition, and be free from damage and excessive corrosion. The pedal rubber must be present, secure and not worn smooth.

To check the pedal is securely mounted, take hold of the pedal and push and pull it from side-to-side. Have a look at the joints to any rods and linkages and check them for movement.

The bodywork around the pedal mounts should not be excessively corroded.

While in the footwell, check for signs of hydraulic brake fluid leaking inside the car.

The travel of the pedal will also be tested. Press the pedal hard to fully operate the brakes. It should stop well before it reaches the floor. If is doesn't, it will be deemed to have insufficient reserve travel to be safe, resulting in a fail. If the car has drum brakes, which are found only on the rear wheels on some modern cars, adjusting them or replacing the shoes if they are worn out may resolve the problem. If it doesn't or the pedal feels spongy rather than firm, then there may be air in the system. Bleeding the brake lines may resolve the problem. If not, the system will have to be checked for leaks. If the pedal feels 'spongy' but doesn't sink too low when pressed then there may not be a problem, it may just be the way the pedal is set-up for your particular model of car.

To test a brake servo, if fitted. Pump the brake pedal a couple of times, then apply firm, continuous pressure to the pedal and turn the engine on. The pedal should drop very slightly. If it doesn't, then the servo is probably not working.

To check the master cylinder isn't faulty, very slowly and gently press down on the brake pedal. If there is a fault the pedal will sink all the way to the floor. To confirm the fault, quickly release the pedal then quickly press it down. If it feels normal again the master cylinder needs replacing.

If your car is fitted with ABS, the dashboard warning light will checked as previously described.

Seats

All seats must be securely mounted. Check this by rocking them backwards and forwards and side-to-side, and looking for excessive movement. Some movement is inevitable so the amount has to be deemed sufficient to significantly reduce their security in order for the car to fail.

The seat backs must also be secure when in the normal upright driving position.

The drivers seat will also be tested to ensure it has a least two adjustable positions, fore and aft, and that they can be securely selected. If the seat uses an electric motor, then this function must work correctly as well.

Doors

All doors, including boots and tailgates, must close and latch securely. The driver and passenger side doors must be capable of being opened from the inside as well as the outside, the rears just the outside.

All doors must open easily without requiring undue force, and all the hinges, latches and their mounts on the door pilliars must be in good repair.

Seatbelts

The whole of the seatbelt strap will be checked, so fully extend the belt from the reel to check it. Splits, frayed edges or holes in the strap could cause a fail.

Check all mounts are securely attached to the car and in good repair. No corrosion should be withing 30cm of any mount.

Click the seatbelt into place and make sure that it stays connected, pulling hard on the seatbelt to make sure the connection stays secure, and that the mounting points can take the strain. Make sure the release button works.

Check the seatbelt retracts properly into its reel. It should do so without assistance, or with only monor assistance, otherwise it will fail.

If the seatbelt has a pre-tensioner system fitted from new, it must still be present and not have been deployed.

Bonnet

The bonnet must latch securely in the closed position. Check the locking device for signs of damage, deteriration and security.

Handbrake

The lever and button must be free from damage and securely mounted.

If the floor around the mount is visible from inside the car it needs to be checked for rust or cracking within 30cm.

Any bolts that secure the handbrake must be in sound condition and tight.

Pull the handbrake up one click at a time to check each part of the ratchet mechanism. The brake must be fully engaged before the lever reaches the top - any more than half way up may be considered too much by some testers and result in a fail.

With the lever up, tap the lever downwards with the palm of your hand to check that it does not disengage, then again from each side. If it does disengage, the ratchet teeth and/or pivots are worn and the assembly will have to be replaced.

If your car has an electric handbrake - if, with the handbrake off, a dashboard warning light illuminates, your car will fail.

External Bodywork

Rusted Car Body work

The test priority here is for projecting sharp edges caused through impact damage or corrosion.

The discretion of the tester will come into play here, but to be safe, rectify any sharp edges before taking your car to the test centre.

The image above shows damage that would cause a fail.

General Under-Bonnet Checks

Make sure the brake fluid reservoir is clean, so the level can be checked, and that the correct level of fluid is present.

The master cylinder, to which the reservoir is fixed, will be checked for leaks. Brake lines around the engine bay will be checked for security, damage and corrosion.

The battery will need to be in good condition and securely fixed. A fail will be recorded if there are any signs of a leaking electrolyte. Crusty and corroded terminals can also cause a fail. To clean then, pour very hot water over them then dry and grease them.

All electrical wiring will be tested for security and support. Any bare wires or connectors will result in a fail.

The power steering bottle, and all connecting pipes, will be tested for security and leaks. Make sure you have the correct fluid level in the bottle.

All other lines and hoses will be checked for security and leaks. If such leaks are present, you should see leak stains around the engine bay or on the ground, or be able to smell any fluid that has leaked.

Now read Part 3 - The Difficult Home MoT Checks