13 April 2018

MoT changes: New defect types, additional items to be checked and stricter rules for diesel car emissions

The MoT test will change on May 20, with new defect types, stricter rules for diesel car emissions, additional items being included and some vehicles over 40 years old becoming exempt.

The changes affect cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles and, while the 40-year exemption may not apply to company cars and vans the other changes most definitely do.

It should also be remembered that the changes apply to the way that the MoT test works in England, Scotland and Wales. The MoT works differently in Northern Ireland.

The main MoT changes are:

Defects will be categorised differently

Defects found during the MoT will be categorised as either: 'Dangerous', 'major' or 'minor' with the first two resulting in a test failure. The category of defect the MoT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is.

MoT testers will still give advice about items vehicle owners/operators/drivers need to monitor. They are known as 'advisories'.

An example provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) of a 'dangerous' vehicle item is one with 'a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment' which would result in an MoT failure and the vehicle not able to be driven until a repair was carried out.

A 'major' vehicle item, which would also result in an MoT failure and a reminder to repair as soon as possible is deemed as one that 'may affect the vehicle's safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment'.

A 'minor' vehicle item, which would result in a vehicle passing its MoT along with a reminder to repair as soon as possible is described as one having 'no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment'.

How a vehicle defect should be interpreted can be seen by reading the DVSA's manual. Using a faulty steering box to illustrate the categories it says that should a leak develop, a 'minor' fault would be recorded. However, if the oil was leaking sufficiently to be dripping, it would be a 'major' fault, and an MoT failure. A 'dangerous' fault is described as a steering wheel mounted so loose as to be "likely to become detached" and so the vehicle would also fail its MoT.

The MoT Inspection Manual says: "The tester must select the appropriate category, being guided by the defect wording and using their knowledge, experience and judgement."

An 'advisory' again would not stop a vehicle passing its MoT, but is deemed as potentially 'becoming more serious in the future' and should be monitored and repaired if necessary.

However, there has been criticism of the new MoT regime. RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "Rather than MoT failures simply being black and white, the new system creates the potential for confusion as testers will have to make a judgement as to whether faults are 'dangerous', 'major' or 'minor'. This will surely be open to interpretation which may lead to greater inconsistency from one test centre to another. The current system ensures that any vehicle with a fault that doesn't meet the MoT requirements is repaired appropriately before being allowed back on the road. "

Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

There will be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars.

The vehicle will get a 'major' fault and thus result in an MoT failure if the tester:

  • Can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
  • Finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

New items included in the MoT

Some new items previously not included in the MoT will now be checked. They include checking:

  • If tyres are obviously underinflated
  • If the brake fluid has been contaminated
  • For fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
  • Brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • Reversing lights on vehicles first used from September 1, 2009

· Headlight washers on vehicles first used from September 1, 2009 (if they have them)

· Daytime running lights on vehicles first used from March 1, 2018 (most of those vehicles will have their first MoT in 2021 when they're three years old)

There are also other smaller changes to how some items are checked.

The MoT certificate will change

The design of the MoT certificate will change. It will list any defects under the new categories, so they're clear and easy to understand.

Some vehicles over 40 years old won't need an MoT

Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won't need to have an MoT if they're over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed. Currently, only vehicles first built before 1960 are exempt from needing an MoT. When the rules change on May 20, vehicles won't need an MoT from the 40th anniversary of when they were registered.