Changes to UK MOT Regulations

Unless you work in, or frequent the regulation sector of the DVLA, the chances are you might not have heard of the new, stricter, rules on MOT tests in the UK. It’s not been widely publicised, but the regulations came into effect on the 20th May, so are already in force. So, if you’re taking your car into the garage for a service and MOT soon, what do you need to know?

There are now 5 categories of car ‘health’, rather than a simple pass or fail. These new sections range from ‘Pass’, ‘Advisory’ and ‘Minor’ to the more serious ‘Major’ or even ‘Dangerous’. Only ‘dangerous’ counts as an outright fail, and this is if the vehicle is deemed to pose “a direct and dangerous risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment.” A ‘major’ fault would have to be addressed on the spot, and according to the DVLA this would count as something that “may affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment.” Cars that only have minor faults that “pose no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment” will be recommended to carry out the repairs, but it is not deemed essential. However, remember that a minor fault today could turn into a major one in a few weeks, so it is better to address them now!

Some of the new checks that vehicle technicians will be undertaking are:

  • Your tyres are clearly under-inflated

  • Your brake fluid has been contaminated

  • Any fluid leaks pose a risk to the environment

  • Your brake pad warning lights work and if any brake pads or discs are missing or damaged

  • Your reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 still work

  • Your headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 still work (if they have them)

  • Your daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 still work (most of these vehicles will not be due for a MOT until 2021)

In the wake of the emissions scandal, stricter tests for Diesel cars will now be undertaken as well, and failed if:

  • Coloured smoke is found coming from the exhaust

  • Evidence that the diesel particulate filter (DPF) which stories exhaust soot has been tampered with.

Having said all of this, not a lot will change in reality. Most of the above constitute good general vehicle maintenance practices and should in theory be looked out for by all drivers. There are numerous guides online that can help you keep track of what’s going on in your car, and although parts will wear you can learn what to look for. This guide from the AA is an excellent place to start, giving you basic information on what to look for. Some more detailed, but still simply explained guides can be found in the infographic from Autodoc on brake-pad malfunctions, and this infographic from OnAllCylinders about tyre wear.

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