New MOT: the strict rules that could make the test more difficult

New MOT: the strict rules that could make the test more difficult
New MOT: the strict rules that could make the test more difficult

New and tougher MOT rules have been introduced which could make it much harder for cars to pass.

From today, the first changes to regulations in five years will see new ‘minor’, ‘major’ and ‘dangerous’ categories brought into play, potentially affecting thousands of drivers in England, Scotland and Wales.

The new categories have been introduced in order to make sure all cars meet the standards set by the European Union Roadworthiness Package. Dangerous and major issues will cause the car to fail automatically.

New rules from 20 May

The MOT test changed on 20 May, bringing in 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 are also 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 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.

Read more 

MOT changes are coming next month – is your car ready?

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:


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


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


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

Result: Pass


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

Result: Pass


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

Result: Pass

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