There are several changes coming to the MOT test, starting on 20 May (apart from in Northern Ireland, where they have a separate MOT system). The most obvious will be a new, more elaborate way of classifying defects. Currently, each item is simply marked as Fail or Pass. In future, defects leading to the car failing the test will be categorised as Dangerous or Major. Most cars are taken for a test before the current certificate runs out, meaning the car can still be driven provided it’s not unroadworthy. However, the definition of 'unroadworthy' is not absolutely clear, so the new categories at least give owners some guidance about whether or not it is safe to drive the car until it’s repaired. However, a major fault can still mean the car is unroadworthy, so it’s important to check with the garage before you drive it away.
Minor faults are noted on the MOT certificate, but will not mean the car fails the test. Advisory comments will also be recorded as items to keep an eye on. As an example, a loose brake disc will be a dangerous defect, a brake disc worn to below the minimum thickness will generally be a major defect and both of these will mean the car fails the MOT test. The car must not be driven at all with a dangerous defect meaning that it must be repaired on the spot or recovered to another garage. The cap missing from the brake fluid reservoir will be a minor fault (but remember to replace this as soon as possible as the fluid may absorb water), and will not result in a fail (although it would under the current test rules), while a brake disc worn close to the minimum thickness will be an advisory defect. Both will be noted on the test certificate and on the online MOT record.
Some of the items checked on the test will change as well, to reflect changes in what must be fitted to cars from various dates. So, headlamp washers must be working if they are fitted (for cars first used from 1/9/2009) reversing lights (1/9/2009) and daytime running lights (1/3/2018). A brake pad warning light on will be a fail for any vehicle.
In order to stop people removing a troublesome diesel particulate filter (DPF), the car will fail if the tester sees any sign that the filter has been tampered with or if there is smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust. Any fluid leak posing an environmental risk, such as an oil leak will also be a major fault and the tester will check the brake fluid for contamination (it should be changed according to the manufacturer’s service schedule, usually every two years). If any of the tyres look underinflated, the car will fail the test, so check the pressures.
The MOT certificate itself will look different and for those of us west of the border, there will be a Welsh only option instead of the current bilingual version.
Finally, cars over 40 years old will no longer require an MOT, although it’s still the cheapest overall safety check you’ll get, so it’s not a bad idea to get one anyway, especially if you’re a less than expert classic car owner.
The maximum price for the test won’t alter and there are still two very useful, and free, services available from DVSA: an MOT reminder by text or email here: www.gov.uk/mot-reminder
And an MOT history check, very useful for a car you’re thinking of buying www.gov.uk/check-mot-history
Click here to read our fact sheet which includes more information.
By Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy and advice