What changes have been made to the MOT test?

From 20th May 2018, changes to the MOT test by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) came into effect, affecting vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.


What's changed?

In line with the introduction of the EU roadworthiness directive on 20th May 2018, which was a broad collection of rules around the road condition of vehicles, several changes were made to the MOT test, to make vehicles safer on the road, and cut back on emissions that harm the environment.

Drivers of cars and other types of vehicles found that one of the main changes was the introduction of tougher new defect categories:

  • Dangerous: A dangerous defect would signify an express, immediate risk to the vehicle and other road users or the environment, for example a loose steering wheel. Should your vehicle have any faults that fall under the dangerous category, it will automatically fail its MOT test and be illegal to drive on public roads
  • Major: A major fault could compromise the road safety of the vehicle, such as a windscreen with obstructed visibility, or have an impact on the environment. Again, any major defects will mean the vehicle automatically fails its MOT test
  • Minor: A minor error wouldn't be considered to have a significant effect on the vehicle's safety or the environment, for example an oil leak (unless it was dripping, in which case it would be moved up to a major). While any minor issues would need to be fixed in due course, an MOT certificate would still be given

Plus, if MOT testers find any of the following issues with your vehicle, the test will also result in an automatic failure:

  • Brake discs that are significantly worn or contaminated by oil
  • Broken/blown reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1st September 2009
  • A heavily leaking steering box




What if I have a diesel vehicle?

In a bid to clean up our roads and help the environment, diesel vehicles started to face more rigorous testing from 20th May.

Previously, MOT testers had to check for the presence of a diesel particulate filter (DPF) – removal or tampering of this, for cost or performance reasons, wasn't tolerated. However, testers didn't have to check that a DPF was working correctly.

Once the new rules came into force, not only must a diesel vehicle have a DPF, it must also be functioning as it should, and not be emitting any visible smoke. If smoke of any kind can be seen, a major fault will be issued, and the vehicle will automatically fail its MOT.


What if I have an older vehicle?

If your vehicle is over 40 years old, from May 20th 2018 it became exempt from having an MOT test.

The Department for Transport (PDF 188KB) have said that the following considerations factored into this decision:

  • Vehicles of this nature are used infrequently and are well-maintained
  • The current-day MOT test is no longer fit for purpose for cars over 40 years old

This affects just under 500,000 vehicles in the UK.


What are some common MOT test fails?

According to gov.uk, almost 50% of all faults found during MOT tests could be avoided by carrying out some simple vehicle maintenance at home.

At Swinton, we always encourage that you keep your car in good shape, to give you confidence while out on the road and help you avoid any issues when it comes to MOT time.

Here are some simple tasks you can do yourself: 

  • Check your lights are working, and replace any broken ones
  • Check your tyre pressure and your tyre treads – our quick video will show you how to do this
  • Test your brakes, and contact a professional immediately if anything seems off
  • Check your windscreen for any cracks, and test that your wipers are working correctly

Find out more car maintenance tips in our Tips From the Trades guides.


What’s changed since the new rules came into play?

According to the DVSA, over a million vehicles have failed their MOT test since the changes were made in 2018. It’s worth brushing up on the new rules so you don’t fall foul of them, especially if your vehicle hasn’t been tested since they came in.

Plus, watch out for another change that could be on the way in 2019: Due to concern about the number of vehicles on the road with outstanding manufacturer recall notices, the DVSA is suggesting that it’ll be easier and simpler if these safety recalls are covered in the MOT test.


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