Prepare for MOT Test
General Car maintenance
It is important to regularly check and top up your cars
fluid levels. In most cases you will have to check your engine
coolant, engine oil level, brake fluid, wiper washer fluid,
power steering fluid there may be more for example automatic
transition fluid if your car has an automatic gearbox.
Topping up car fluid levels
The above diagram is simple an example of the various locations
of the different top up and check locations. It will vary from
make to make and model to model. The example I have used is a
Check engine coolant level
Most coolant tanks have a Max and Min mark on the tank it's
self. You can visually check the level by looking to see where
the fluid level is in comparison to the markings. This can be
done more accurately when the engine is cold. This is because
water expands when it hearts up and will give a slightly higher
reading due to this. If the level is below the Min then you will
need to top the level up.
Do not open the coolant water
cap when the engine is hot, this can result in serious personal
Only open the coolant cap when the engine has had
time to cool down or when the engine is cold. Because the
coolant system is pressurized the fluid will not boil. When you
remove the cap the pressure is released, the coolant can then
boil and pour out of the tank at high pressure. This is
extremely dangerous. Always let the coolant system cool down
before opening the expansion tank.
Once open pour a mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze into
the expansion tank until it reached midway between Max and Min.
Always mix your water and antifreeze in accordance with the
manufacturers instructions. The mixture not only prevents the
coolant from freezing in the winter, it assists the cooling
action in the summer.
Once you have topped up your coolant level it makes sense to
check it the following day, sometimes the level will drop a
little because of air-locks in the system ect. Top up once again
if required. You should check your cooling system fluid at least
once a week.
If you find you are having to top up your coolant very regularly
it is possible you may have a leak or engine problem. Leaks can
occur at any pipe in the cooling system and also at the
radiator. Certain engine problems can also cause you to loose
coolant such as blown cylinder head gasket. In this case I would
expect to see traces of oil mixed with the coolant, although
this is not always so. If you believe you are using excessive
coolant have the problem looking into by a garage of competent
The screen wash is the water bottle that contains the water that
is sprayed onto the windscreen to clear away debris or dirt.
This should be topped up with a mixture of water and screen
wash. Refer to your products mixing instructions to get
correct mixture. Check this level at least once a week.
Brake fluid level
Low brake fluid can be very dangerous. Car braking systems are
hydraulic, they use fluid under pressure to operate the brake
wheel units. Fluid cannot be compressed so the brake fluid under
pressure will actuate the braking system. If the fluid level
drops far enough to draw air in then the system will not
function correctly. Air can be compressed, air in the braking
system will lead to a spongy brake pedal and lower braking
The brake fluid reservoir will be located under the bonnet,
usually on top of the brake master cylinder. The master cylinder
is the first hydraulic component of the braking system. The
master cylinder applies the pressure to the fluid within the
The fluid reservoir it's self will have a Max and Min marker on
it. Use the correct type of brake fluid according to your
manufacturers hand book to top the level up to between the Max
and Min level. If you find you are having to top the brake fluid
up often you may have a braking system leak. If in doubt have it
look over at your garage.
Checking engine oil level
In order to check your engine oil ensure that the engine is cold
and the car is parked on a level surface. Nearly all car engines
are fitted with a dip stick. The dip stick is used to take a
measurement from within in the engine and record the level of
engine oil within.
To check the oil level first locate and remove the dip stick
from the engine. Clean the end of the dip stick where the
reading will be taken. This is usually marked with a Max and Min
level. Once the dip stick is clean and free of oil insert it
fully back into it's position in the engine assembly. After a
couple of seconds pull it back out and hold the reading area
level. The oil should have left a mark on the dip stick to tell
you how much oil is contained. If the engine oil is low top it
up with an oil that is suitable for your car. You should be able
to locate information about suitable types of oil in your
If you are unsure have it checked by a garage. To little or to
much oil can be harmful for your engine.
Power steering fluid
Power steering fluid is a hydraulic oil that us used to
hydraulically assist your steering system. The power steering
fluid reservoir is usually located under the bonnet, please
consult your owners manual for a more detailed location. In most
cases the cap on the reservoirs will have a picture of a
The power steering fluid level can be checked on two ways,
depending on the type of system your vehicle uses. Some will
have a visible Max/Min on the side of the tank allowing you to
visually see the level, others will have a small dip stick
attached to the cap that will allow you to clean , re-insert and
check the level. If our level is down then top it up to the
correct level using the correct power steering fluid for your
vehicle. More information about suitable power steering fluid
will be available in your car handbook.
If you are having to top up your fluid regularly there may be a
leak in your power steering system. This could be a pipe or in
some cases the power steering rack it's self. In either case you
should have it checked out by a garage or competent mechanic.