The way that the MOT test works in England, Scotland and Wales changed last month.  The changes affect cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles.

First of all, defects are now categorised differently.  The category the MOT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is:

  • Dangerous – direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment, do not drive the vehicle until it’s been repaired (fail).
  • Major – may affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment, repair it immediately (fail).
  • Minor – no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment, repair as soon as possible (pass).
  • Advisory – could become more serious in the future, monitor and repair if necessary (pass).
  • Pass – meets the minimum legal standard (pass).

There are also stricter limits for emissions from diesel vehicles with a diesel particulate filter.  Vehicles will get a major fault if the MOT tester can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust or finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

New items now tested during the MOT include checking if tyres are obviously under-inflated, brake fluid has been contaminated, fluid leaks pose 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), and 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 three years old).

The design of the MOT certificate has changed so that any defects according to the new categories are clear and easy to understand.

“It is important everyone quickly gets to grips with the changes to the MOT, and that test centres and garages do a good job of explaining the new fault categories so motorists understand correctly the severity of faults with their vehicles,” the RAC’s Simon Williams said.  “We also hope that testers everywhere interpret and apply the new rules fairly and consistently.

“Drivers who have a diesel vehicle with a DPF should make sure it is regularly given a good run at motorway or dual carriageway speeds so the filter is automatically cleared of any clogged up soot.  This is very important if the vehicle is predominantly used for short journeys on local roads.”