How to avoid failing your MOT

By: Dave MotorCycle Direct Posted: February 22nd, 2016
MOT logo.

So here is a story that we are all familiar with. It's that dreaded time of year that seems to come round so quickly, the test that determines if your vehicle is fit for the road or not. The test that can sometimes stretch our wallets a little too far. Avoid that disappointment of hearing the word 'Failed' and take a look at our tips on how you can prepare your motorbike for its MOT and increase your chances of it passing along with improving the general maintenance of your motorbike.


  • Clean your motorbike before: Not only will it look great but it will give the tester the impression that the bike is cared for and in good condition.
  • Check the wheels and tyres: Over 25% of MOT failures are due to the condition of the tyres. Check your tyres to ensure they have the correct tread depth, ensure they are for road use and not track use and if the tyre has a direction arrow ensure its pointing in the direction of rotation. Check any alloy wheels have no cracks or visible damage caused by impact and check that both wheels are in line with each other.
  • Check the Final Drive system Chain: A broken chain is one of the biggest inconveniences a bike can throw at you. It will leave you stranded on the side of the road and actually be very dangerous should it happen whilst riding the bike. Ensure you check your chain for excessive wear by lifting the chain from the rear sprocket and if it gives any more than 5mm for play then it should be replaced.
  • Check your lights: Around 50% of MOTs fail due to lights not working correctly. Ensure your lights are up to a suitable standard by checking your headlight is securely fixed, there are no visible cracks where water etc. may get in. Ensure the light is white and bright (unless manufactured a different colour for example yellowish). Check that your main and dipped beam work efficiently and that the dipped is angled correctly to not dazzle oncoming traffic. Check all lights at the rear of the bike work and come on when the brakes are applied. Ensure the brake light bulbs are all working correctly and none have blown.
  • Indicators: Your Indicators are crucial and they must work, manoeuvring in traffic other people will need to know where you are going or accidents can happen with fatal results. Check all lights are secure with no cracks, show an orange light, flashes at a constant steady speed and flashes when switched on.
  • Check the condition of your brakes: Brakes are the third highest reason motorcycles fail their MOTs. Checking the condition of yours can ensure your bike passes its MOT. Check all the hoses for any signs of fluid leaking, cracking and bulging when brakes applied. Check your discs are crack free and securely fixed onto the wheel. Also check the brake pads are to a sufficient level and not worn away. There should be at least 1.5mm of pad remaining. Finally check that the brake pads are clean with no oil or brake fluid leaking onto them.
  • Exhaust: The condition of your exhaust is another main thing the tester will look at. Beforehand check carefully that it is securely mounted onto the bike and not rattling or loosely fixed. Also consider whether the noise coming from the exhaust is excessive, if so this could be problematic when it comes to the test. Ensure any silencers fitted to the exhaust are for road use and not for track use only as this is also an instant failure.
  • Test your Suspension/Steering: This can be difficult to test alone so enlist the help of a friend for any lifting etc. Check the handlebars over, ensure that they move smoothly and do not stick particularly around the forks. Check that the grips are firmly attached to the bars with no movement and check the fork tubes for any evidence of oil leakage. Ensure the rear end of the bike bounces as this absorbs any bumps in the road.
  • Have a final check over the bike for any loose or unsecure items and rust/corrosion to any parts of the bike. These will stand out to the tester so ensure these are fixed/replaced before going for the test.
  • Also ensure you consider that if the bike is in a dirty condition it is not possible to examine it, also that the bike is maintained correctly with engine oil topped up and fuel at a sufficient level. All these things are good to ensure a safe pass.

By following these tips and fixing anything that is not up to scratch, this will ensure that your bike stands a better chance of passing. If the tester offers you any advisories be sure to take them into consideration and act on them in the future. If after all of the actions above, your bike does fail its MOT be sure to ask if the items causing it to fail can be fixed on the same day to get the bike passed. If they cannot then be sure to get a quote for the repairs and shop around to ensure you get the best price possible.