What you need to know about the new MOT rules on May 20th

A shakeup of the way vehicles are tested for roadworthiness means that from May 20th 2018, new MOT rules will change how your car potentially fails its test.

The new MOT rules from May 2018 will affect everything from cars and vans to motorcycles and light passenger vehicles, but diesel cars are particularly hit, at a time when the government is targeting the fuel with extra vehicle excise duty on new diesel cars as well.

MOT test centres will now be required to give every detected fault a classification of either minor, major or dangerous – with the two most severe categories resulting in a test fail.

Minor faults can still be passed, but should be repaired as soon as possible, and test centres can still give optional ‘advisory’ notices for causes of concern that should be monitored regularly and may eventually need repair work.

New MOT test items

As well as the new categories, there’s a long list of new items on the MOT test from May 20th 2018, including:

  • Brake fluid contamination
  • Front fog lamps
  • Daytime running lamps
  • Floors
  • Noise suppression material
  • Emission control equipment and sensors
  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF) tampering
  • Fluid leaks

In all there are 18 new additions, with a further four types of emission control equipment specified, while eight items that have previously caused a fail are now reclassified as only ‘minor’ faults, for example low levels of some fluids.

Diesel disasters

The new MOT test is definitely not diesel-friendly, with an immediate fail if the test centre determines that your DPF has been tampered with.

You’ll also get a major fault – which means an immediate test fail – for ANY visible smoke coming from your exhaust pipe.

And there are new, stricter emission values based on the vehicle’s manufacturer’s plate and lower defaults for diesel vehicles where the plate is not present or the test centre cannot find it.

In principle these items all relate to how polluting the vehicle is, but they also mean that what has historically been classed as ordinary wear and tear could now result in an instant MOT test fail – and it remains to be seen what the cost could be for diesel drivers.

Classic cars

The good news if you’re a classic car owner is that many older vehicles will no longer need an MOT certificate. Up until now this has been the case for vehicles built before 1960, almost 60 years ago.

From May 20th 2018, if your vehicle is 40 years old or more and has not been substantially altered or modified in the past 30 years, it will no longer need an MOT certificate – that’s anything older than May 1978 and will continue to apply to more vehicles as they reach their 40th anniversary in the years to come too.

That does not give you free rein to drive vehicles on public roads that are not roadworthy – you’ll face three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 if you do so – but it means that when you tax your car each year, you can declare it exempt from the usual MOT test.