Will the new MOT rules cost you?

Drivers already struggling with soaring fuel and insurance prices could face the added sting of unexpected repair bills because of new MOT rules which came into force this month.

As of January 1, 2012, the Department of Transport has added a series of changes to the MOT criteria to reflect the complexity of modern cars’ electronics. From faulty tyre pressure monitoring systems to steering lock checks, the MOT ‘pass’ criteria is now stricter than it was.

The main changes to the MOT include:

Dashboard

The new MOT test will check the warning lights are working properly for the main beam headlights, power steering, brake fluid, tyre-pressure monitor, air bag, seat belt pre-tensioner, electronic parking brake and electronic stability control, where present.

The speedometer must be complete and fully operational. If the dial glass is broken or the speedometer cannot be illuminated, the car will fail the test.

Lighting

If any of the lights have been modified – with coloured lenses for example – to result in their colour or intensity being altered, your vehicle will also fail.

For vehicles with High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, a failure will be issued if the HID system doesn’t include headlamp cleaning and levelling systems, or if they don’t work properly.

Power

A battery which is insecure or leaking electrolyte will result in failure. Also, any visible wiring which is insecure, bared by worn insulation, not properly supported or capable of causing a short will trigger a failure.

A vehicle will fail if it had a catalytic converter which has since been removed, or if it has damaged or chafed fuel pipes.

Steering

Dysfunctional or absent steering locks, where fitted as standard, will now cause the vehicle to fail – as will missing or damaged dust covers and suspension ball joints.

Other extras

The driver’s seat fore and aft adjustments, which move the seat forwards and backwards, must be able to be secured in two or three different positions. If the vehicle has electric seats, the motors must be able to move the seat fore and aft.

Doors must be easily opened and closed from the inside and outside. Tow bars must be free from inappropriate repairs or modifications and the airbag must be present and working if it was fitted as standard.

When do I need to make the changes?

The new rules come into play from January 1 but there is an initial grace period of three months. During this time the rules will be treated only as ‘advisories’, meaning motorists will have until their first MOT after April 1, 2012 to have any of the new listed problems addressed. From that date onward however, breaking one of the rules will result in an immediate MOT fail.

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Keeping costs down

The safety features of modern cars might help lower the cost of your car insurance, but the new MOT rules have widened the scope for failing the test, which means the likelihood of having to fork out for repairs may have also gone up.

If your car insurance is due for renewal, you could offset the potential extra costs by shopping around for a cheaper policy instead of sticking with your current provider.

Automatically renewing car insurance policies costs 2.56million drivers a collective £2.4billion each year, according to MoneySupermarket research. Instead, use our car insurance comparison tool for free to see if you could get a better deal elsewhere.

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