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MOT changes: everything you need to know

First published: 4th May 2018
From 20 May, the way MOT tests are carried out changes. The test – which confirms your car is legally roadworthy – has to be carried out each year on all cars over three-years-old.

The major change is that defects found are now given one of three categories: Dangerous, Major and Minor.

• Dangerous means – as the name suggests – a very serious problem to safety or the environment. It will result in an instant MOT fail, and indicates that the car should not be driven until the problem has been fixed.

• Major is also a fail, and means the defect may affect safety or the environment and should be repaired immediately.

• Minor means the car will still pass the MOT, as it doesn’t have a significant impact on safety or the environment, but indicates the defect should be repaired as soon as possible.

• Advisory means an issue that could become more serious, and needs keeping an eye on.

• Pass means everything is fine.

There are also changes to the limits on emissions from diesel vehicles fitted with a diesel particulate filter (better known as a DPF). In addition, new checks are being added to the test, including the examination of daytime running lights, front fog lights and visible smoke from cars fitted with a DPF.

You can see the full list of changes on the government website.
What does all this mean for you? Well, in practical terms, not much. You’ll still need to have your car MOT’d once a year, and you’ll still have to act on the results where necessary, to avoid driving an unroadworthy vehicle or one with a major defect. To do so is a criminal offence, and can result in a fine of up to £2,500, a driving ban and three penalty points. However, it’s worth knowing that some issues that previously might have scraped a pass are now unlikely to. If in doubt, get your car checked over beforehand, and get any issues repaired.

The changes are in response to an EU directive called the European Union Roadworthiness Package. Although the UK is leaving the EU in response to the Brexit vote, it remains a member when the directive comes into force. It’s also likely that UK cars will need to meet the same standards in order to be allowed into EU countries after Brexit.

Exceptions to these changes include historic vehicles over 40-years-old, counting from the date when they were first registered. These won’t need an MOT as long as they haven’t been substantially changed in the past 30 years. When you tax your vehicle, you’ll have to declare that it meets the conditions for not having an MOT and – obviously – ensure that it remains in a roadworthy condition.