New MOT rules: what are they and how they can affect you

You might have heard about the major changes that have happened to MOT tests this year. The new changes affect MOTs on all cars, vans, motorbikes and light passenger vehicles and were put into practice on the 20th May. The new rules were brought into practice to improve vehicle technology, maintain and help reach the EU’s zero fatalities objective in road transport by 2050 and improve vehicle emission control systems to help the environment.


Introduction of new categories

Before, if you were to get an MOT, you would either pass or fail it, and the tester also had the option to give you an ‘advisory’, which was some advice on something that they suggest to be looked at, but is not severe enough to fail you. Now the new MOT rules have introduced three categories of failure.

Minor - This is the same as ‘advisory’ and can be issued alongside an MOT pass.

Major - If you have a major vehicle defect, you will fail your MOT, and the car can only be driven to a place of repair before a retest.

Dangerous - The most severe rating is classed as a dangerous fault, which will result in an immediate fail and the car is not allowed to be driven until the repair has been made.

Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

There are now going to be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Your vehicle will have a major fault if the MOT tester can see smoke coming from the exhaust or finds evidence that the filter has been tampered with.

Additional checks

  • To see if your tyres are under-inflated
  • To see if the brake fluid is contaminated
  • To check whether there are any fluid leaks that pose an environmental risk
  • To check brake pad warning lights are working and if there are any missing brake pads or discs
  • Testing reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1st September 2009
  • Testing headlight washer on vehicles first used from 1st September 2009
  • Testing daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018

Classic car drivers need not worry

Now vehicles that have been registered for more than 40 years will not need to get an MOT. The only other exceptions to these rules are vehicles that have been ‘substantially changed’ within the last 30 years. A vehicle is considered ‘substantially changed’ if the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the last 30 years. The main components for vehicles are:

Chassis - or Monocoque bodyshell including any sub-frames

Axles and running gear - alteration of the type and/or method of suspension or steering is considered a substantial change

Engine - If the number of cylinders in an engine is different from the original, it is likely to be the case that the current engine is not alternative equipment.

The following changes are considered acceptable:

  • The changes that are made to preserve a vehicle where original type parts are no longer available
  • Changes to the brand of vehicle that were done in production or within 10 years of it
  • Axels and running gear changes made to improve efficiency, safety or environmental reasons
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