5 Quick checks to avoid MOT retest fee

A reliable MOT garage will often offer a pre –examination of your vehicle prior to your MOT taking place, but there is plenty you can do at home, to help your car sail through the test.


The main failures in MOTs are a result of simple issues, which are easy to put right before taking your vehicle to your local MOT garage.

Walk around and check each light

Nearly 30% of MOT failures happen because there is a headlight bulb out, or that the aim of the headlight is incorrect. Whilst testing the position of your headlights may not be straight forward, if you notice a bulb is out, this is something that can be easily changed by yourself or your local garage. The same goes for brake lights and the registration plate lamp, take the time to walk around your car and test that all bulbs are working.

Check each of your tyres for wear and tear

Tyre condition and tread account for over 25% of MOT failures. Run your eyes over your tyres and check for obvious signs of damage and wear, the law requires tread to be at 1.6mm.

Other areas checked during an MOT are a little harder to check yourself, such as the brakes and suspension, and require a professional MOT test centre to carry out the tests. Incorrect tyre pressures or tracking can cause uneven wear, so ensure you check the inside of the tyre too.

Clean and assess your mirrors and plates

Check your rear view mirror and wing mirrors are in a clean and undamaged condition.  Don’t forget to check and clean your registration plates too.

Beep your horn

A horn that does not work will cause you to fail your MOT, make sure you test it – at a reasonable hour!

Check your wiper blades and washer fluid

Change wiper blades if they are worn and check fluid levels such as screen wash. Top them up as required.

Steve Spooner owner of Bromley Car Repairs, an MOT garage in Bromley commented:

“Too often people bring their vehicles to us for an MOT test under prepared, resulting in failure for something that could have been easily rectified at home or during a pre-MOT check, such as a headlight being out. If you don’t feel confident to make these checks yourself, your local MOT garage will always be happy to help.”

It may seem like the easy option to simply book and enter your vehicle into an MOT, but by taking some time to check your car and make simple fixes, you will likely save both time and money.



Using your phone whilst driving, the crackdown begins

So it is illegal but we have all done it, or at least been tempted to.  That lure of your message ping, the familiar ring of your iPhone: ‘what if it’s urgent’, ‘I’m stopped at lights and it’ll only take a second to check’. We all know that it’s incredibly stupid and that we should not be doing it, but still that temptation is great.

Well now the stakes just got higher (as if the consequences were not fatal enough) as the government cracks down with spot fines and penalty points doubling.

Asian man texting while driving

The RAC have reported that illegal mobile phone use is increasing, yet for the past 10 years the number of prosecutions have halved since 2010, with 17,586 motorists charged in 2015 compared with 35,255 in 2010. The number of convictions has also halved as have fines imposed by the courts. It seems that the mounting concern about a lack of prosecutions and convictions, has only served to strengthen the message to the public not to take the law too seriously.

Motorists caught using their mobile phones while driving will automatically receive six points on their licence instead of the current three and on-the-spot fines will be doubled from £100 to £200 (source: Sell your jamjar).  New drivers could now face immediate disqualification if six points are applied to their licence for driving while using a mobile phone.

Is it a generational problem as the Department for Transport (DfT) and RAC believes, with the under 25’s not knowing a life before mobiles?  Or are older users just as bad with the blasé attitude on the road?  Is it a more ingrained attitudinal problem that needs to be addressed with more than just police action?

The Dft certainly believes so and that more needs to be done.  They are currently working on a “hard-hitting Think! Campaign” with new sanctions expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

It remains to be seen whether these tougher sanctions and the campaigning will have any effect on this dangerous activity. Regardless of where the blame sits and with who, everyone knows that the consequences can be, and often are life-changing.  We therefore we all have our part to play in ensuring that your phone stays off and out of reach whilst driving.

The minister for transport Chris Grayling, said use of mobiles at the wheel was as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving.

“We all have a part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving,” said Grayling, promising to announce “a tougher new penalty regime shortly”.

The perks of driveway parking

Driving gives you the freedom to go on adventures, visit the best locations and make memories. It opens up a whole new world of adventure, and allows you to arrive at work on time without having to spend an indeterminate amount of time on public transport, but wherever you drive to there always seems to be one significant, and often costly disadvantage – parking.

Finding a parking space can be a nightmare

Whether you’re on your way to work in the city, setting off on a day trip or following your football team, parking can be a nightmare. We all know how frustrating it is driving around in circles to find a space only for someone else to steal the one you had your eye on. And if that’s not bad enough, the cost of parking puts another dampener on the day, and that’s if you’ve had the forethought to ensure you have enough change for the machine.

There is another option

But what if you had the option where you didn’t have to leave home far too early so that you have enough time to find a parking space? What if you had a parking place all for yourself, one that you didn’t have to pay a small fortune for and that no one could swoop in and grab? Well, now you can, if you’re savvy enough to hire a driveway.

More and more members of the general public rent out a driveway that they don’t use as a way of making a little extra money, which, if located close to city centres, local attractions, football stadiums and tourist attractions, gives car owners easy access to the perfect parking spot.

The benefits of driveway parking

Driveway parking not only benefits the owner of the driveway but has advantages for the driver too. It takes the hassle out of parking – you’ll be sure to have a space waiting for your car, saving precious time, particularly if you have a schedule you need to stick to.


Renting a driveway is often cheaper than a parking space too, especially if it’s a regular booking and in addition, it’s simple to plan – all you have to do is book in advance online. It’s also flexible – even if you need a one off parking space while you visit an attraction, booking in advance not only guarantees you a space but you’ll have prepaid for your parking so there’s no running back to put more money in the machine, meaning you can enjoy a hassle free day.

Your cheaper driveway parking space also ensures the safety of your car in a way the public car park simply can’t. Parking in a driveway means your vehicle is less likely to be stolen and it is also out of danger from the potential risk of bangs and scrapes from other vehicles that may occur in a public car park or when street parking. Sign up for a free account today on spacehopper.com and start enjoying the benefits of driveway parking.

Whether you’re looking to avoid the hassle of city centre parking, or want a secure place to park your car on your next day trip, the advantages are clear – isn’t it time you considered driveway parking for your next journey?

The Best Private Number Plates

Since 1903 it has been a legal requirement for motor vehicles in the UK to be fitted with number plates. The initial response to the 1903 Act was far from favourable but these vehicle identifiers have now become not only acceptable but, in the case of certain “cherished” numbers, highly desirable with some of the most sought-after changing hands for tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some people question just why the concept of “personal plates” is so popular and there is no single answer. For some it is a simple matter of one-upmanship whereas others may not wish to display their vehicle’s age but for many it is simply a matter of good fun.

Initial Thoughts

For most private number plate hunters the initial thoughts are likely to be just that … initials! For many years people have chosen to adorn their vehicles with their own initials along with a preferably low or distinctive number and, although such numbers are often offered for sale, a potential purchaser must be prepared to pay a substantial sum in most cases. One of the main problems is that many of us share the same initials meaning that demand greatly outstrips supply. However there is no reason why we cannot adopt a middle name to match the numbers available and who is to know whether your middle name is actually Xavier? Nicknames are also very popular and most people can find something appropriate.


The early registration marks, pre-1963/4, gave no indication of the vehicle’s age and so these are always popular especially when the letter/number combination also has some relevance to its owner but those who simply wish to hide the vehicle’s age may wish to consider buying one of the widely available numbers from Northern Ireland which are not only dateless but can also have interesting letter combinations.

Match the Car

Many car brands are simply known by initials such as MG, TVR etc. and many more are popularly known by shortened names such as Jag, Pug etc. Specific models are almost invariably given letter/number names such as M3, A4 etc. so it is often possible to match the number to the car. Some true petrol-heads may prefer to identify their power-plants as V8, V6, etc.

Jobs and Hobbies

Rather than matching the plate to their name, many people prefer to have something relative to their field of work or interests such as the uses of the digits 999 for those in the emergency services, K9 for dogs, or letters to indicate a profession. Motorsport enthusiasts may be tempted by the good range of F1 plates currently available and darts fans may find the number 180 to be of relevance.

Best Private number plates

Best Private number plates

Substituting Numbers and Letters

One of the most fun aspects of choosing a registration number is in looking at the different ways that characters can be read. The exact style of the characters and the method in which they can displayed is of course determined by law but it is easy to see that some numbers can easily be read as letters spelling out a word. As an example, B16 or B19 becomes BIG. There are countless variations but some of the most common are as follows:
1=I, 12=R, 13=B, 15=IS, 2=Z, 3=E, 4=A, 5=S,6=G(B or C), 7=Y(T or F), 8=B, 9=G, 0=O.

Using Slang Shorthand

Most of use are familiar with text talk which we used primarily for sending text messages via push-button mobile phones. Of course most people have now moved on to smartphones with full QWERTY displays making messaging much simpler and allowing for proper grammar and spelling but old habits die hard and in this case technology has simply produced a whole generation of unparalleled illiteracy but, on the bright side, such slang can produce some GR8 ideas when looking for a number plate!

Fit for Two

The current style of number plate is often criticised for being unsuitable when trying to match it to a set of initials as it has two sets of letters. The answer is absurdly obvious and is to match it to two people.

So everyone is sure to be able to find a private number plate relevant to them and these days it is a simple matter to either buy a new number directly from DVLC or to check out some of the numbers offered for sale by specialist dealers. With literally millions of numbers on offer, many sites provide a simple search facility whereby a few digits can be entered in a box to check availability. The whole process can be fun but is rather addictive! Potential buyers with plenty of spare cash may be interested to know the prices paid for some of the very best private numbers. The top ten are as follows:

(1)25 O £518K
(2)F1 £440K
(3)S1 £404K
(4)1D £352K
(5)M1 £331K
(6)VIP 1 £285K
(7)51 NGH £254K
(8)1 RH £247K
(9)K1 NGS £231K
(10)1O £170K

Thankfully not all private numbers fetch such eye-watering prices and there are still many bargains to be found but, if it proves impossible to find the number to match the name, there is always the alternative of keeping the number you have and changing your name to match it!

Who is the man and woman with a van?

Vans are becoming more and more popular across the UK, with statistics by the government revealing that the number in operation increased by 3.2 per cent between June 2014 and June 2015 alone. This figure makes vans the UK’s fastest growing vehicle type during that period.
Ever wondered just who the typical man and woman who drive vans are though? The UK’s largest used commercial vehicle retailer Van Monster has attempted to find out by putting the question to van drivers themselves.

The results of the light-hearted survey can be found in the infographic below. Split into various age groups and genders, the visual reveals:

  • How satisfied drivers are with their commercial vehicle.
  • Whether they make use of their van other than for work purposes.
  • What they tend to listen to when behind the wheel of their van.
  • The average weekly spend of topping up their commercial vehicle’s fuel tank.
  • Which manufacturer they tend to choose their van from.

Find out all these details plus much more by viewing the graphic in full…

Van Monster - Man with a Van