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New MOT rules 2018: what does it mean for your car?

New MOT rules 2018: what does it mean for your car?

From May 20 2018 the UK MOT test rules have changed, so what does this mean for you?

MOT testing in the UK is getting tougher – not just for vehicle safety checks but for emission checks too. There are three main changes to the MOT rules in 2018 that you need to be aware of:

  • New failure categories
  • New safety checks
  • New diesel checks

New MOT rules 2018: additional failure categories

Vehicle faults will now be classified as Dangerous, Major or Minor. Dangerous pretty much speaks for itself – it’s a vehicle in a dangerous condition that should not be driven away from the test centre, and an immediate fail. 

Major faults may not present an immediate danger but they still count as an MOT failure, either because they could soon lead to an unsafe condition or because they breach emissions regulations. 

A vehicle can still pass with Minor faults, and these are equivalent to the ‘advisory’ notes used previously. They will be listed on the MOT certificate and brought to the owner’s attention with the advice that they should be fixed.

The example we’ve seen quoted a number of times is a steering box with a leak (Minor – pass) versus one that’s dripping fluid (Major – fail).  

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New MOT rules 2018: tightened safety checks

These don’t represent any major change to the regulations, just a progressive tightening of the inspections carried out. For example, the new testing process is expected to include checks on reversing lights and brake disk wear.

There is a new document for MOT testers listing the changes which you can access here.

There are two things to note, though. First, it’s 131 pages long and designed for MOT testers not motorists. Second, at the time of writing it’s still only in draft form.

The bottom line is that we can expect to see a few more items being tested, but the suggestions above seem perfectly reasonable from a road safety point of view.

New MOT rules 2018: more stringent diesel checks

This is where things could get more painful for some diesel owners as the checks on DPFs (diesel particulate filters) will become more stringent. 

Previously, cars were only rejected if the DPF was completely missing. However, MOT testers will now check to make sure not only that there is a DPF fitted to cars where they are standard equipment, but that the DPF has not been tampered with – for example cut open to remove the filter and then welded back up again.

Any signs of tampering will now constitute a Major fault and an MOT fail – unless it can be demonstrated that it’s entirely legitimate, for example necessary filter cleaning.

In addition, any vehicle with a DPF fitted (or which ought to have one fitted) that emits visible smoke of any colour will also be failed. 

What if my car fails its MOT?

It’s a horrible moment: the issue of a VT30 'Refusal of an MOT Test Certificate' form.

Currently, there’s no indication that MOT failures will be treated any differently. Under current regulations, there are two possibilities:

1) If your car fails its MOT and the old certificate has expired, then you can only drive it to a garage to have its defects fixed, or to an MOT centre for a retest. 

You can’t drive your car home and keep driving it to work for a few days hoping not to get caught while you decide what to do. Driving a car without an MOT brings a fine of up to £1,000 and may invalidate your insurance, bringing serious liabilities in the event of an accident. 

And you can’t ‘make up’ garage appointments on the spot to get you off the hook if stopped, since the police will expect to see evidence of a prior appointment.

2) If your car fails but its previous MOT is still valid, you can drive it away – but it still has to be in a roadworthy condition. 

This is where the new MOT failure categories could prove useful. A Dangerous fail clearly indicates the car cannot be driven, whereas a Major fail could be related to emissions rather than safety – the MOT test centre should be able to advise on this point. 

Driving a car in a dangerous condition brings a maximum fine of £2,500 and three points on your licence. It will also have serious implications in the event of an accident.

What should you do?

It’s tempting to combine your servicing and MOT test into one annual chore, but you could be painting yourself into a corner and committing to having any repair work done by the garage carrying out the MOT.

It’s better to stay on top of your car’s servicing and any defect and faults throughout the year. This will give you more time to find a repairer and a solution without the time pressure of an expiring MOT.

The new MOT testers guide is still in a draft form right now, and we don’t yet know how they new rules will pan out, but at the moment it looks as if the new MOT regulations will have two main effects:

* Providing more information about vehicle test failures
* Clamping down on DPF dodgers trying to get around emissions regulations and potentially expensive repairs