MOT – Updated Rules and Simple Checks

Almost 40% of vehicles fail their test first time, however often this can be easily avoided. New MOT rules introduced last year include new defect types and affect how we maintain our vehicles.

Read this guide to ensure you understand these new rules before you visit the MOT test centre. Doing some simple checks can help your vehicle to pass first time.

New Categories

The Government website reports the new changes. This includes defects found during the MOT being categorised as one of 3 options:

  • Dangerous – FAIL – Do not drive the vehicle until it’s been repaired
  • Major – FAIL – Repair immediately
  • Minor – PASS – Repair as soon as possible

MOT testers will still give advice about items you need to monitor, these are known as ‘advisories’. Although you will be told to monitor these, the vehicle will still pass the test.

New Items Tested

New items to be tested during the MOT include:

  • 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 1 September 2009
  • headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
  • daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)

Diesel cars

There are stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Check your vehicle handbook to see if this applies to your diesel car.

Your vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:

  • can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
  • finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

The way Diesel car tax is calculated has also been updated, instead of being fixed at £140 per year, VED rates will now be calculated based on the car’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Some vehicles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT

Under the new rules, vehicles won’t need to have an MOT if they’re over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed.

Until now, only vehicles first built before 1960 were exempt from needing an MOT.

If you are unsure of the exact age of your car, it is simple to check the date the vehicle was registered online.

Simple Checks

The SMMT suggest using the ‘Minute Or Two’ MOT check.

It reports that around 1.5 million vehicles fail their MOT due to simple things such as faulty bulbs, too little tyre tread, or even empty windscreen washer fluid bottles. It’s possible to avoid most of these issues with a quick check of your car. It only takes a ‘Minute OTwo’!

This is the SMMT official guide:

  1. Headlights and indicators

Check that all of your car’s lights function properly – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.

  1. Brake lights

Press the brake pedal and ask a friend to check that the rear brake lights come on – including any supplementary brake strip light. Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a reflective surface and look behind to see for yourself.

  1. Number plate

Make sure that the number plate is clean and legible – even a quick wipe with a cloth can make a difference. Moreover, the font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements to be passed.

  1. Wheels and tyres

Check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm – any tyres with less than this will be marked as an MOT ‘fail’.

  1. Seats and seatbelts

The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards and all seatbelts should be in good, working order. Test movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt’s full length for damage. Tug sharply on all seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to brake severely. They can save your life in a crash, but only if they work properly.

  1. Windscreen

Check the view out of the front of the car for damage – any damage larger than 40mm will cause a ‘fail’, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen in front of the driver.

  1. Windscreen wipers

Make sure your wipers are able to keep your windscreen clean – any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can be an MOT fail.

  1. Screenwash

Top up the washer bottle before taking the car in for a test – something as simple as an empty container can cause an MOT fail.

  1. Horn

Give a short blast of the horn – if it doesn’t work, your dealer will need to repair or replace it.

  1. Fuel and engine oil

Make sure your car is filled with enough fuel and engine oil – you can be turned away from the MOT without suitable levels of either.

Remember: You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

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