The months of March and April are always the busiest for MOT testing centres, and this is set to be especially true in 2022. As new number plates are issued in March, a new car will be due for its first MOT test three years after being bought. In March 2022, those number plates themselves will change, to include a “22” identification, and be manufactured to new safety specifications. The MOT holiday introduced in 2020 for the covid pandemic is also still working its way through the testing system for cars bought in 2019. All of these factors are having the effect of making March 2022 test places hard to come by.
As demand for MOT tests is high, it is likely that many motorists will see their check MOT date expire before their test slot is available. This is legal, provided the vehicle owner has proof that they’ve booked a test. However, any delay is likely to increase the chances of vehicles falling foul of the most common types of MOT failure. The fact is that every day wear and tear are the very things which impact on the most heavily used parts of any vehicle. It is just those items which the MOT tests first, as they contribute the most to roadworthiness.
By far the most common reason for MOT fails – almost half – are is worn or damaged tyres. Even a four week delay in obtaining a test slot can have a significant impact on tyres which may already be in the border between safe and unsafe. For this reason, it is highly recommended by MOT testing centres that drivers carry out their own checks before driving in for their test. There are well trusted, simple and quick methods of checking tyre wear, for instance, which require no specialist equipment and give a very good idea of any tyre’s roadworthiness. It pays to remember that one partly worn tyre will see a vehicle fail its MOT; even if that is on the spare wheel.
For a tyre to be deemed safe, its tread pattern must be at least 1.6mm deep, all around its circumference. This depth has been approved as being enough to dissipate water on road surfaces, allowing the tyre enough purchase on that surface. This cuts down the chances of a vehicle aquaplaning, where the driver loses control of the vehicle altogether. A good tread depth also reduces braking distance and increases driver control while braking. A 20p coin has a border just over 1.6 wide; if this is visible when placing the coin in the tyre’s tread, it will need changing soon, if not immediately.
Reducing Tyre Wear
While the above check can be easily done before a vehicle’s check MOT test, there are many ways drivers can help reduce wear on their tyres. With a full set costing several hundred pounds, even for remoulds, reducing wear makes financial sense for drivers, as well as keeping them and everyone else near a road as safe as possible. As for cost, almost every garage has free offers of tyre and brake checks as standard; professional testing can give an insight into how close a vehicle is to needing replacements or any type of work done. Doing this in plenty of time for the MOT gives motorists a chance to look for the best tyres, rather than doing it just before the test and buying one or two emergency replacements.
There are also good habits that drivers can get into to reduce wear on their tyres. One is to check tyre pressure regularly. There are clearly marked limits on the side of modern tyres; they should be inflated between the minimum and maximum pressure at all times. These limits are the result of scrupulous and rigorous testing, and give the tyres their optimum performance. Not only does this increase road safety and improve handling, it also reduces fuel consumption. Another good habit is to avoid using brakes unnecessarily.
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By concentrating on road conditions, drivers can avoid sudden, heavy braking, and also the bad habit of “hovering” over the brake pedal during downhill driving.
When it comes to buying replacements, motorists are recommended to buy the tyres actually designed for their vehicle, rather than cheaper replacements. While these latter may be technically safe, many of the problems mentioned above are likely to occur and recur much more frequently, making a failed MOT more likely.