MOT time

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MOT time. A phrase that strikes terror into many a Capri owner. However, the Capri, particularly in 4 cylinder form, is a fairly simple beast and a little preparation and some basic checks should allow you to leave your car at the test station with a degree of confidence that it will pass.

First off I would say do not use a main dealer. They will possibly go out of their way to find fault purely because the Capri is an old car. Far better to try and find a small local garage with which you can build a rapport.

If you get the chance try and stick around to watch an mot in progress as it will give you an insight into the type of checks that will be carried out. However, to give some guidance this is the sort of process a tester will go through and most of you should be able to do this yourself before the test:

Inside the car the seats will be checked for secure mountings as will the seat belt anchor points. Corrosion in the floor on either will lead to a fail. Seatbelts will be checked for fraying, inertia operation and retraction.

Steering column will be given a good pull and general rock about to ensure that it is secure.

All lights will be checked for operation, including rear fog lights and the dash warning light for fogs. Hazard lights must work. Headlight alignment can be tricky to self check but there are details in manuals if the units have been dismantled since a previous test. Don’t forget image intensity. Old lamps can get a cloudy look – tip a little vinegar inside the light unit, swish it about and this should sort it. Let the glass dry and reassemble.

Front wipers must work, the rubber blades be in good condition and the washers function. The horn must work also.

Tyres – check tread depth, look for side wall damage and if you have rotational tread patterns ensure they are facing the right way.

Suspension. Jack the front of the car, hold the top and bottom of the wheel and try rocking it. There should be minimal movement, anything further suggests that the wheel bearings need tightening or, if really bad, replacing. Get under the car and examine the track control arm for wear in the ball joints and the inner and outer rubber bushes. If you have any lock nuts with split pins make sure they are present. Check for wear in the front arb bushes. It should be obvious from driving if the front coil springs are broken but give them the once over. With the car on the ground push down firmly on the wing and let go. Anything more than the car returning to normal within 1-2 bounces suggests that the front damper inserts need replacing. Do a similar test on the rear to check the shock absorbers. Also check the rear shocks for signs of leaks and corrosion. Back at the front check the strut tops under the bonnet for signs of corrosion. This is a particularly common fail area.

Steering. With the wheels on the ground turn the steering from side to side. If there is excessive turn of the steering wheel before the wheels start to move the rack is worn and probably needs replacing. Make sure that the rack is securely bolted with locking tabs in place. Examine the rubber boots on the rack for splits and missing cable ties. Check the track rod ends for split rubber caps and excessive play in the ball joints.

Brakes. OK, you don’t have rollers at home but if you can find a quiet road, braking sharply from about 25 should lock the wheels up without the car pulling to one side. If it pulls then there is an imbalance in the brakes that needs investigating – probably a seized front calliper. Make sure that there is not too much free travel in the handbrake and also that it works. A steep hill is a good test. Also worth removing the rear drums and checking for leaks in the brake cylinders. Have a good look at brake lines for signs of corrosion or splits in hoses. With the engine off pump the foot brake a couple of times until it is firm. Keeping your foot on the pedal start the engine. The brake pedal should depress a little which confirms that the servo is working.

Exhaust. Check that it is not corroded or blowing from any joints. Black soot is a give away.

Corrosion. Sharp edges on corroded bodywork can be a fail but the main issue is rust close to a structural point so it’s time to get under and check the floor where it joins the sills, the chassis rails where the rear springs attach, the front foot wells and the front bumper mounting points. Check the sills too especially towards the rear.

Emissions. The Capri is not subject to vigorous emission tests so providing it is not running with sooty plugs or smoking badly you should be OK.

The above is not meant to be exhaustive but should provide a few pointers. It might sound a lot on the face of it but an mot should take less than an hour so it really shouldn’t take too long to give your car the once over. Good luck.

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