MOT Test Changes 2018 – What you need to know

The most significant change in the MOT test for nearly 60-years.

The MOT test changed on the 20th May 2018.  New defect types, new test items, a 40-year-old exemption and stricter rules for diesel car emissions have come into force, this is the most significant change for nearly 60 years.

Changes in Defect Categories

Defects found during the MOT of cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles are now categorised. These categories are Dangerous, Major and Minor.

Major and Dangerous defects will cause the vehicle to automatically fail the test with Minor faults being shown on the MOT certificates as passed “with defects” this category being created to urge owners to affect a “repair as soon as possible”.

Category Table

Item Result What it meansHow it will affect your MOT
DangerousA 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.

MajorIt may affect vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment.

Repair it immediately

MinorNo significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment.

Repair as soon as possible.

AdvisoryIt could become more serious in the future.

Monitor and repair if necessary

PassIt meets the minimum legal standard

Make sure it continues to meet the standard.


Diesel Emissions

Diesel vehicles will face stricter limits on emissions with vehicles with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A diesel particulate filter (or DPF) is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine. Vehicles will receive a “major” fault and fail there MOT if the MOT tester can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust or finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with, under the new rules, MOT testers must refuse to test any car where the “DPF canister has clearly been cut open and re-welded” unless the owner “can show evidence that there was a valid reason to cut it open, such as for filter cleaning.

New Test Items

There have been a number of extra items added to the MOT test including;

  • Checking tyres to see if they are obviously underinflated
  • Checking the brake fluid for any contamination
  • Looking for any leaks that might pose an environmental risk
  • The brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • the reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • Checking headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
  • Checking Daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they are 3 years old)

There is also a range of smaller changes to how some items are checked- your MOT centre will be able to tell you about these.

40 Year Old Exemption

Vehicles now reaching the 40th anniversary of when they were either registered or manufactured will now be exempt from needing an MOT if they have not been substantially changed. Until now only vehicles first built before 1960 were exempt from needing an MOT.

The government has justified these changes on the basis that older cars “are usually maintained in good condition” and are driven rarely and on shorter trips with the new legalisation set to affect around 300,000 vehicles.

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