In Depth

MOT test 2018: new rules come into effect - what’s changed?

Tighter limits for diesel emissions but classic cars no longer need to have annual check

Car owners may be facing bigger bills to keep their vehicles on the road following the launch of the new MOT test yesterday. 

The new test targets diesel cars, with stricter emissions tests and inspections of vehicle exhaust systems, in a bid to reduce pollution. 

All faults will be classified into three categories under the new rules, which are also aimed at improving road safety. 

Here are the big changes introduced in the MOT revamp:

Stricter tests for diesels

MOT test centres will now be required to closely inspect the diesel particulate filter (DPF) on cars using the fuel.

Unlike the old test, in which engineers passed or failed the DPF through a visual inspection, the filters will need to be removed and examined in the new test. 

Cars that have had their DPFs removed or tampered with will immediately fail the test, The Sun reports. This could affect a significant amount of diesel owners as “a large number” have the DPF modified because it can frequently become clogged.

The visible smoke test will also be more strict, the paper adds, which could lead to more diesels failing if any sign of smog can be seen.

Minor, major and dangerous

Vehicle faults are now divided into three different categories: minor, major and dangerous. 

Cars with a minor fault can still be driven on the road after the test, but drivers are advised to get their vehicle repaired “as soon as possible”, says the Daily Express. These issues are similar to advisories on the old MOT test. 

Issues are categorised as major if they “may affect the vehicle’s safety” or “put other road users at risk”, the newspaper says. 

The owner will still be permitted to leave the test facility in the vehicle, but must carry out the necessary repairs immediately. A retest must be arranged once the repairs have been completed.

The most serious car faults are categorised as dangerous, meaning the car cannot be safely driven on public roads, says Auto Express

For instance, a loose steering wheel that could potentially become detached would be classed as a dangerous defect.

Examiners will automatically fail a car if any warning light is illuminated on the dashboard, the Daily Mirror adds.

All faults will be recorded on the vehicle’s MOT certificate and online record, the newspaper says.

More older cars are exempt from an MOT

Drivers with a car aged 40 years or older will no longer be required to have an MOT test to legally drive on UK roads.

The move will affect around 500,000 vehicles, the Daily Express says, which equates to around 1.5% of the 31.7 million cars registered in the UK.

Previously, only cars registered in or prior to 1960 were exempt from a mandatory MOT test, the newspaper says.

What else has changed?

Testers will now check steering systems and will fail a car if a steering box has a “heavy leak”, according to What Car?, while brake discs will be checked for signs of ware.  

Lastly, cars will fail the MOT test if their reversing lights are significantly worn or the bulbs have blown, the website says.  

How does the new test affect car owners and buyers?

If a driver is caught behind the wheel of a car that has failed its MOT and has not undergone the required repairs, they will be fined up to £1,000, says Metro

These penalties also apply to drivers who continue to use their car after the vehicle’s MOT certificate has expired. Drivers can sign up on the Government’s driving and transport site to receive free text messages to remind them when their car is due a test. 

Anyone looking to buy a new diesel car should check with the seller that the vehicle is fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), WhatCar? says. Cars without a DPF score an instant fail under the new MOT test. It is already illegal to drive a car if its filter has been tampered with or removed. 

All post-2010 diesel cars come equipped with DPFs, which can cost “several hundred pounds” to repair or replace, the website says. Buyers are advised to check the dashboard lights before buying a second-hand car, as an engine warning light may indicate a problem with the vehicle’s DPF.  


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