What you need to know to pass the MOT


The latest on rules – including the MOT changes from 20 May 2018


If your vehicle’s more than three years old, you’ll have to get it tested every year to show that it meets minimum standards for roadworthiness and emissions. The rules are different if it’s a taxi.

  • The MOT basically confirms, without dismantling, that your vehicle meets the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards required by law.
  • An MOT’s no alternative for regular servicing and maintenance, and doesn’t mean that your vehicle’s roadworthy for the life of the ‘certificate’.
  • If you want to know exactly what the test covers, you can read the official testing guides.
  • You can easily check the official MOT history and status of a vehicle you own or are thinking of buying. You only need to know the make and registration number.
  • The status check confirms the date, mileage and expiry date of the last test as well as details of previous MOTs back to 2005.

Changes to the MOT test from 20 May 2018

The way the MOT test works is changing as part of an EU directive (2014/45) which comes into force on 20 May 2018.

Defect categories

New defect categories of ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ and ‘minor’ are coming in. Vehicles with a ‘Dangerous’ defect mustn’t be driven until repaired.

Dangerous (fail) – an immediate risk to road safety or serious environmental impact. Don’t drive until repaired.
Major (fail) – may affect safety, put others at risk or have an environmental impact. Repair immediately.
Minor (pass) – no significant effect on safety or environment. Repair as soon as possible.
Advisory (pass) – could become more serious. Keep an eye on it and repair if necessary.
Pass – meets minimum standard required.

Getting an MOT early

You can take your car for an MOT up to a month early and keep the same renewal date but what if the car fails the test?

  • The expiry date of your old MOT still stands so you’ll still have a current MOT.  If you drive your car away, you’ll not be committing the specific offence of driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

But, you can’t simply ignore the test result and continue using your car until the old MOT expires.

  • It’s an offence to drive a vehicle with a known defect and to drive an un-roadworthy vehicle.
  • You can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Changes to testable items and defects from 20 May

There’s a major overhaul of the MOT testers’ manual coming in at the same time as the new defect categories.

There’s a long list of changes with some new checks being added, some existing checks being updated and a few failure items being removed.  Changes include:

New items

Brake fluid contamination
Daytime running lights
Front fog lights
Reversing lamps
Light source and lamp not compatible – Halogen headlamps converted for HID bulbs will fail
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) obviously falsified
Brake lining or pad wear indicator illuminated
Engine malfunction indicator lamp
Exhaust gas recirculation valve
NOx sensor
Evidence that a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) has been tampered with
Any visible smoke from a vehicle with DPF
Stricter limits for emissions from diesels with a DPF
Fluid leaks other than coolant and Adblue

Items that won’t now cause a fail

A few defects that would have resulted in a failure before, are classified as ‘Minor’ defects from 20 May.  You’ll still need to get them repaired as soon as possible but they won’t result in an MOT failure.  These include:

Brake fluid below minimum level
Brake fluid warning lamp
Direction indicator flash rate
One of two number plate lamps not working

Historic vehicles

From 20 May 2018 cars, vans and motorcycles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT as long as they’ve not been substantially changed in the previous 30 years. You won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT but when you tax your vehicle you’ll have to declare that it meets the rules for no MOT. You must of course ensure that the vehicle remains in a roadworthy condition.

Content courtesy of the AA
Swift Car Care is an AA Certified Garage & part of the AA Garage Guide