MOT changes are coming – is your car ready?

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The MOT test is changing from May 20, with new classifications, tougher emissions controls and new items examined.

Any motorist caught driving a car without a valid MOT can be fined up to £1,000 so it’s worth making sure you’re up to speed with all the changes, outlined below.

Fault classification

Most obviously, the way faults are classified is changing.

Currently a vehicle either passes or fails the roadworthiness test and testers can issue advisory notices for issues which do not constitute a fail but which the tester feels need attention.

Under the new system faults and defects will fall into one of three categories – Dangerous, Major or Minor.

Any car with a dangerous or major fault will automatically fail the MOT while a vehicle with a minor fault will pass the test but with a record of the fault made on the MOT certificate.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says the change makes it clearer for drivers when a car shouldn’t be removed from the test centre without repairs but some, including the RAC, argue it creates more room for confusion.

One example given by the DVSA is of a car with a steering defect.

A leaking steering box would constitute a minor fault, leaking enough to drip would be a major fault and, thus, a failure.

If the steering wheel itself was so loose as to be at risk of coming detached, that would be a dangerous fault.

Emissions testing

Owners of diesel cars will find their cars are even more rigorously checked than before.

Any car fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) – that’s any built after 2009 – will automatically fail if it emits any visible smoke.

Testers will also check if the DPF has been removed or tampered with.

Any sign of this will earn it a fail unless the owner can prove a “legitimate” reason for it, such as cleaning of the DPF.

Exemptions

From May 20, cars more than 40 years old will not require an MOT, as long as they haven’t been “substantially altered”.

At the moment only cars built before 1960 are exempt.

From May, the rolling exemption will apply to any car from the 40th anniversary of its first registration.

The Government says that as most cars that age are of “historical interest” they are owned by enthusiasts who will keep them well maintained.

It also argues that most classic cars aren’t driven regularly and, when they are, it’s usually for shorter journeys.

New checks

The DVSA has added several items that must be checked as part of the test.

These 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)