The annual MOT can be source of dread for many drivers, as it sometimes means having to fork out to fix the mechanical wear and tear that's taken its toll over the past year.
However, it's illegal to drive a vehicle that doesn't have a valid test certificate, and besides, driving a car that isn't checked for roadworthiness at least once a year is dangerous.
The criterion for passing an MOT has now expanded, thanks to revised European legislation, and will reflect "advances in technology", says the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Though it shouldn't cost you any more for the test itself, the extended scope for failure could make it more expensive for some motorists to stay on the road. Here's a look at what's changed with the MOT test.
A raft of new MOT checks were announced in January last year, but not all of them took immediate effect.
The ones that didn't kick in last January are now, as of March 20, in effect. For most cars the additional checks will include:
Headlamp levelling and cleaning devices when fitted for HID or LED headlamps
Main beam 'tell-tale' warning.
Battery (including those in electric and hybrid vehicles
Electrical wiring and connectors.
Trailer electrical socket security and damage.
Operation of 13-pin trailer electrical sockets
Operation of steering wheel lock (where fitted) including a malfunction warning in respect of an electronic steering lock
Electronic power steering malfunction indicator lamp
Electronic parking brake control and malfunction indicator lamp
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) components, including the switch (if fitted) and malfunction warning
Brake fluid warning lamp
Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
SRS components including airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, seat belt load limiters
and SRS malfunction warning lamp
Indirect vision devices such as cameras (where they replace obligatory mirrors)
Since January last year, if an MOT tester found any of these instruments wasn't up to scratch they were supposed to warn the vehicle owner that it would fail the test (as of March 20, 2013), and register the fault as an 'advisory' only.
Alastair Peoples, VOSA chief executive, said: "We've worked closely with the industry to make sure they are prepared for the changes. And testers have been letting customers know about the new items in the MOT test for more than a year to make sure they are ready for the changes."
Why add these extra checks?
VOSA says many modern vehicles have new components which need to be checked. It also says it has to comply with European directives imposed so that vehicles may move freely around the Continent.
Even if the European directives hadn't come along, the UK would eventually have had to update its MOT to take technologies into account, according to VOSA.
How can I make sure I pass?
If any kind of warning light pops up on your dashboard, you'll need to get it checked as soon as possible. While in the past you might have just gotten away with it, there's a chance you'll now fail your MOT because of it.
Taking your car for regular services can help identify such problems before they're picked up by the tester. Your manual will tell you how often the manufacturer recommends getting the vehicle serviced, but it's usually either every 12 months or every so many miles (whichever comes first).
New vehicles are exempt from requiring an MOT for the first three years.
Diesels engines tend to go for more miles than petrol engines before needing a service, but whatever your engine type, you should carry out regular checks on things like tyre treads, brake fluid and oil levels.
Unfortunately, some things can't be pre-empted and you may end up having to pay out for any failures based on the new MOT criteria. If that's the case, you can at least offset the extra cost by getting a good deal on your car insurance when you next renew it.
Don't accept the renewal quote from your existing insurer, go to our car insurance comparison channel instead - it only takes a few minutes and you can see how much you could save by switching to a new insurer.
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