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The MOT is an annual test that checks for a vehicle’s road safety, emissions and general roadworthiness. It’s compulsory for most vehicles over three years old, although some are exempted from the test if they fulfil certain criteria.
The rules regarding how MOT tests are conducted were changed on 20 June.
MOT: the new rules
The latest upheaval is one of the biggest in recent history, and the two main talking points concern:
New defect categories
There are now five results an item can receive after having been checked. These are:
If an item is graded as dangerous, this means that it is either a direct risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment. As a result, the vehicle is not allowed to be driven until it is repaired, and therefore is awarded a FAIL.
If an item receives a major result then this is because it may have an effect on the safety of the vehicle as well as possibly putting other drivers at risk and impacting the environment. You’ll be given instructions to have these repaired immediately if you want to drive the vehicle again, and the MOT will be classed as a FAIL.
If something is described as minor then it won’t have a significant bearing on vehicle safety or the environment, however it should still be repaired as soon as possible. This is the lowest PASS grade achievable.
If something is given as advisory then it isn’t an immediate threat, but it could become more significant in the future. You’ll be told to monitor the item and if necessary begin repairs, but it will still be given a PASS.
If an item passes then it has reached the minimum legally required standard for road safety, and you’ll have to make sure this continues in the future. This is the highest PASS grade possible.
With the new MOT rules there are also stricter measures in place for diesel cars that have DPFs (diesel particulate filters). If there is visible smoke of any colour emitted from the exhaust pipe, or if there is evidence that the DPF has been tampered in any way, then the vehicle will be given a FAIL.
If your vehicle was manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago and hasn’t been ‘substantially’ changed in the last 30 years, it will likely be exempt from requiring an MOT. This only applies to cars, vans, motorcycles, and other light vehicles.
A substantial change is something that has altered the technical characteristics of the main components of the vehicle – unless this alteration is deemed ‘acceptable’. Examples of substantial changes include if:
- The vehicle has been made from parts of different vehicle makes and models, for example if it’s a kit car
- It’s a DVLA-defined reconstructed classic vehicle
- The car is a kit conversion
- The type of suspension or steering is changed through the axles or running gear
- The vehicle has been assigned a ‘Q’ number plate.
However, the changes are not defined as substantial if:
- They were made to keep the vehicle running and the original parts aren’t available – to a reasonable extent
- They were changes that can be proven to have been made when the car was in production, or within 10 years of the end of production
- The vehicle was previously used commercially, and the changes were made during this time
- The axles or running gear were changed for improved road safety, efficiency, or reduced environmental impact
- If replacement chassis or monocoque bodyshell was of the same design as the original
The new MOT rules also include new checks for several parts of the car, including:
- Tyres that are clearly underinflated
- Contaminated brake fluid
- Environmentally hazardous fluid leakages
- Missing brake discs or brake pads, or if there are warning lights for the brake pads
- Reversing lights if they were first used after September 1 2009
- Headlight washers if they were first used after September 1 2009
- Daytime running lights if they were first used after March 1 2018 – though these cars will probably have their first MOT when they’re three years old, in 2021.
In addition to these new rules, the new MOTs will have a different certificate design in order to make the new changes easier to understand. This has also been reflected in the way the MOT history of a vehicle is checked.
Here’s a bit more you should know about getting your MOT:
- The cap on MOT charges hasn’t been changed
- The government decided against increasing the age a vehicle must get its first MOT test to four years
- You can sign up for free MOT reminders via email and text a month before it’s due
- Driving a vehicle without a valid MOT can bring you a fine of up to £1,000