Should I Wash My Car Before an MOT?

At Simoniz, we’re often asked if it’s a good idea to clean your car before an MOT. And our answer is always the same: a resounding yes.

We all know that giving your car a thorough once over is considered good practice before an MOT. Most people check the lights, tyres, wipers, and screen wash level as a minimum before their annual safety check, but we think cleaning your car inside and out ahead of things is just as important too.

Why? Arrive at your test with a dirty, smelly car, and it may not go down well with the MOT examiner. Remember, first impressions count, so if your car looks like you’ve not taken care of it, inspectors may be more inclined to mark you down.

What’s more, dirt, dust, and streaks can actually cause MOT failure in certain circumstances.

In this guide, we’ll talk more about why we think you should wash your car before an MOT, before giving you a few quick tips on sprucing up your car so it’s ready for the big day.

Can You Fail an MOT if Your Car is Dirty?

On paper, a car can’t fail an MOT because it’s generally unclean; there needs to be a safety issue that means it’s unfit for the road. However, it can fail if the dirt is creating a hazard or making your car hard to identify, i.e., bad streaks on the windscreen (with no screen wash in the reservoir) or an obscured number plate or VIN number.

mechanics conducting an MOTBut with all that said, failing or not isn’t really the issue when it comes to deciding whether to clean your car before an MOT. Instead, it’s a matter of politeness and courtesy, and making sure that you don’t annoy the examiner before the test has even begun.

If you bring a dirty car to an MOT testing centre, it could say a lot about you and how well you maintain your car. It may make the examiner instantly suspicious, giving them an expectation to find problems.

Our advice? Always make sure your car looks presentable before an MOT. It doesn’t have to be perfect – a quick clean and tidy inside and out will do the trick in showing examiners that you care about your car.

How to Give Your Car a Quick Clean Before an MOT

Putting your car through its MOT is rarely convenient, so preparing ahead of time can sometimes be tricky. To help you get your car looking its best before an upcoming test, without spending ages waxing and polishing the paintwork, follow our quick car detailing guide below.

  1. Grab a hose or pressure washer and blitz the exterior – Sometimes a good wash is all it takes to get your car looking presentable before an MOT. A rinse down with a pressure washer or hose can quickly remove dirt and grime, helping things look more presentable.
  2. Get instant shine – If that’s not enough, you can add a touch of shine with Simoniz Quickshine Detailer. Bringing instant sheen and protection in a fraction of the time as standard waxes, it’s a great way to quickly restore your car back to its showroom best ahead of an upcoming MOT.

mechanic checking underneath a car

  1. Don’t neglect the undercarriage – Test examiners will be more interested in what’s going on under your car than up top, so it pays to make sure the undercarriage is clean and free from heavy dirt. A pressure washer or hose can be a godsend here, helping you remove dirt, salt, and deposits from important components under your car.
  2. Do away with litter – If there’s one thing that’s bound to wind up your MOT tester, it’s litter in the cabin. Old food packets and general rubbish can get in the way of them doing their job, and we’ve already discussed why it’s not a good idea to get on their bad side.
  3. Vacuum the seats and carpets – Ah, the trusty vacuum, capable of restoring the look and feel of a car’s interior in a matter of minutes. A quick whizz around with a vacuum is just the thing when getting your car looking ship-shape for its MOT. If you want to freshen up the smell easily use our Air Con Refresh. Top tip – it also sanitises and removes viruses including coronaviruses, so you can use it after the MOT inspector’s been in your car to make sure it’s completely safe.
  4. Clean the interior windows Disposable glass cleaning wipes are ideal for removing streaks from the windscreen before an MOT, and are so easy to use, you can do it in the testing centre car park. And be sure to check that your windscreen washer fluid is topped up while you’re at it.
  5. Organise the cabin – Anything you can do to make the examiner’s life easier will be appreciated, so make sure you organise the cabin and get out any bits and bobs they might need during the test (i.e., an alloy wheel key). MOT testers don’t take kindly to rooting around in messy gloveboxes to find what they need, so do yourself and them a favour ahead of the test.

And that’s it – you’re ready for the test! Cleaning your car before an MOT isn’t do or die, but it can really help set you and your car up for a successful result. Just don’t forget to check the basics too, otherwise, all that elbow grease could be in vain.

We hope this guide helps you get through an upcoming MOT without any nasty surprises. While the condition of your car is the most important factor, how it looks and feels can play a role in the end result too. For more motoring tips and to browse our full product range, visit the homepage.

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