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I'm trying to do more of my own servicing for my car, following the suggested service schedule in the appropriate Haynes manual. However, I've noticed some of the suggested checks in the Haynes manual seem to duplicate checks that are done as part of the UK MOT test. Is there any reason to do those checks myself if the MOT is going to check them anyway?

The specific checks I've spotted that seem to be duplicates are:

  • "Check the condition of the exhaust system and its mountings" (Seems to be covered by §6.1.2 of the MOT manual)
  • Haynes "Check the brake hydraulic circuit for leaks and damage" (Seems to be covered by §1.1.10 of the MOT manual)
  • "Check the front and rear brake pad thickness" (seems to be covered by §1.1.13–14 of the MOT manual)
  • "Check all underbonnet components and hoses for fluid and oil leaks" (seems to be covered all over the MOT manual by various checks for leaks)
  • "Check the condition of the driveshaft gaiters" (seems to be covered by §6.1.7 of the MOT manual)
  • "Check the steering and suspension components for condition and security" (seems to be covered by various parts of §5 of the MOT manual)

I'm keen to check and service anything that warrants being checked and serviced, but I'm also keen to not do checks myself if I'm going to have to pay for an MOT garage to do it for me too. And I've not had enough experience with car maintenance myself to be confident whether the Haynes manual's suggested service tasks are actually duplicates of things covered by the MOT.

In case it's relevant, the vehicle is a '07 diesel Volkswagen Touran 1.9 TDI.

Edit: To be clear, all the checks I'm talking about here are ones that the manuals recommend only doing once every year or every two years anyway. I'm not trying to ask how often I should do these checks, only if there's something about the checks in the Haynes manual recommended checks that aren't covered by the MOT.

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    You can have a serious oil leak develop one month after the mot and seize your engine - which you could have spotted during your own checks... Your choice. – Solar Mike Apr 10 at 11:21
  • @SolarMike I'm not trying to advocate ignoring evidence of an oil leak because I've recently had an MOT! I'm merely asking what the point is in (say) me getting the car up on axle stands to do an annual inspection if they're going to do (what appears to me to be) the same inspection as part of the MOT anyway. – me_and Apr 11 at 11:08
  • You seem to be of a "minimalist" attitude - personally I like to minimize the risk of a breakdown, so I check as much as often as possible ie regularly... If you equate an MOT to a "service" then you will come unstuck - eventually. As made clear in the answers you have received. – Solar Mike Apr 11 at 12:33
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Duplicating checks isn't a bad thing.

I, personally, check everything (or at least, all that I can without specialist equipment) that the MOT checks, for one very simple reason - I can then fix it, if necessary, in my own time before the MOT check, reducing the risk of it failing.

Otherwise, if you don't know about a fault until it's picked up on the MOT check, you're either reliant on them fixing it, or potentially faced with having your car off the road until a new part arrives - whereas if you check it all yourself a couple of weeks before, you've got time to shop around, find suitable parts, fit them, etc, before the test is due - or, if you can't fix it yourself, get a garage of your choice to do it.

It also helps you to get a feel for what's 'right' with your vehicle - helping you to tell quicker if a part is starting to fail - if you know what the bits should look like, you can see if they don't look the same as usual and warrant further checks.

  • Getting a feel for what's "right" is a good point; I obviously know what's "right" from a driving position, but I'm not very familiar with what the car normally looks like from the underneath. I'm not too worried about the car being off the road for a few days – I schedule the MOT for a time when that would be convenient just in case anyway – but I can see how doing that with a bit more leisure time would be valuable to some folk thinking about this, too. – me_and Apr 11 at 11:11
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The MOT is there to make sure your car is "roadworthy", i.e. safe to drive. It's done once a year, which means there's 364 days when something can go wrong that could kill you if it's not caught, or at least inconvenience you if it goes wrong. Catching an oil leak before your engine seizes up can save you huge money, catching a brake line that's worn or damaged before it bursts on you could save your bacon. So the most safety related ones are worth doing, as are the ones that could be expensive, provided you have the space, time and tools to do it.

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    You can have a quick look for obvious things yourself, and I'd rather fix something in advance than fail the MOT and have to fix it then. But I for one don't have the opportunity to put the car on a hoist and have a good look underneath. So for me the two are complements of each other. – Mike Spivey Apr 10 at 23:34
  • I'm not planning on giving up things like regular oil level checks! I'm only thinking here about the checks that would be at most annual anyway according to the manuals. – me_and Apr 11 at 11:13
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Checking anything is completely pointless, as an end in itself. The only point in checking things is that you fix them if necessary.

The optimum situation is actually to be checking the condition of the vehicle 100% of the time you are driving it. If something sound strange or feels strange, or an instrument doesn't read the same as it usually does, investigate why as soon as it's convenient to do so.

As another answer said, the MOT only checks safety-related issues. The MOT inspector couldn't care less if your engine is going to self destruct tomorrow because of poor maintenance. So long as it will start and run long enough to pass the emissions test, that's as much "checking" as it gets. From a road safety point of view, an engine that is a total write off is perfectly safe - because you won't be driving anywhere with no engine!

  • I'm not asking about general paying attention to the vehicle here; if the oil level starts dropping or warning lights come on, I'll absolutely investigate that. I'm asking about specific inspection checks that require digging around under the bonnet or lifting the car up on axle stands, ones that are time consuming and which the manuals only recommend doing once every year or every two years. I can't do those 100% of the time! – me_and Apr 11 at 11:17
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Because they have different reasons. MOT is looking for if your car is unsafe. You are looking for if your car is in need of maintenance.

Your standards are much higher than theirs, ergo, two inspections.

Besides. You want to inspect so you don't get nailed by a MOT exam and face whatever consequences that might be - having your registration delayed, plate suspended, having to go back, etc.

Similarly, US railroads discovered if they maintained track to government minimums, they got rough track, which beat up equipment, which beat up track more. Maintaining to European HSR standards is cheaper all-around.

I see it all the time where because of poor maintenance of one thing, another thing is placed under undue stress, and breaks. I just had an exhaust system failure because I did not timely repair a problem with my shifter dropping down. It rested on the exhaust and broke it.

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