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MOT test changes: the strict new rules being introduced in May that could affect your car

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The MOT test is to get a major overhaul and introduce new rules that could make it harder for cars to pass.

Changes to the regulations – the first in five years – will see new ‘minor’, ‘major’ and ‘dangerous’ categories being applied that could affect thousands of motorists in England, Scotland and Wales.

These defect categories will be applied to all cars in order to meet the European Union Roadworthiness Package, with major and dangerous issues resulting in automatic failure.

READ: MOT changes are coming – is your car ready?
When does the new MOT test come into effect?

The MOT test will change on May 20, stricter rules for diesel car emissions with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars.

There will also be new tests in the updated MOT including under-inflated tyres, contaminated brake fluid, brake pads missing or defective warning lights, dashboard monitoring and fluid leaks posing an environmental risk.

A car will fail if smoke of any colour can be seen coming from the exhaust or there is evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

The new rules will also mean that some vehicles over 40 years old will become exempt.

For example, if a car was first registered on 31 May 1978, it won’t need an MOT from 31 May 2018.

Over the years, as long as a car was deemed roadworthy, motorist could keep driving it even if it failed as long as the old MOT was still valid.

Older vehicles exempt But the new rules mean it will be much harder for some vehicles to pass the test and some changes could even slap drivers with a £2,500 fine if they make a simple mistake.

Neil Barlow, head of MOT policy for the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency said the new rules will “help motorists do the right thing”.

But RAC spokesman Simon Williams added: “The new system creates the potential for confusion as testers will have to make a judgement as to whether faults are ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’.

“This will surely be open to interpretation which may lead to greater inconsistency from one test centre to another.

“Motorists may also struggle to understand the difference between ‘dangerous’ and ‘major’ failures.

“The current system ensures that any vehicle with a fault that doesn’t meet the MOT requirements is repaired appropriately before being allowed back on the road.”

What the new categories mean:

Dangerous

A 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. Result: Immediate fail

Major

It may affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment. Repair it immediately. Result: Immediate fail

Minor

No significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment. Repair as soon as possible. Result: Pass

Advisory

It could become more serious in the future. Monitor and repair it if necessary. Result: Pass

Pass

It meets the minimum legal standard. Make sure it continues to meet the standard. Result: Pass.