Right Driver

MOT test

How does the MOT work?

You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT so it’s important you know the updated rules for getting one for your vehicle.

Defect categorisation

Defects found during the MOT are categorised as either:

  • dangerous
  • major
  • minor
  • advisory

The category the MOT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is.

Category What it means about the item MOT result
Dangerous A direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment. You must not drive the vehicle until it has been repaired. 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. Fail
Minor No significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment. Repair as soon as possible. Pass
Advisory It could become more serious in the future. Monitor and repair it if necessary. Pass
Pass It meets the minimum legal standard. Make sure it continues to meet the standard. Pass

Rules for diesel car emissions

Rules for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) have been made stricter. A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. Check your car’s handbook if you don’t know if your car has a DPF.

Your vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:

  • can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
  • finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

Additional items included in the MOT

Daytime running lights must operate if fitted

Checks to see if:

  • tyres are obviously underinflated
  • the brake fluid has been contaminated
  • there are fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
  • brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • there are reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • there are headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
  • there are daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)

There will be other smaller changes to how some items are checked. Your MOT centre will be able to tell you about these.

The MOT certificate

The design of the MOT certificate now lists any defects under the new categories, so they’re clear and easy to understand.

The service to check the MOT history of a vehicle will be updated to reflect the changes.

Some vehicles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT

This 1977 Porsche would be exempt as it was first registered over 40 years ago

Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won’t need to have an MOT if they’re over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed. You can check the date the vehicle was registered online.

If a car was first registered on 31 October 1978, it won’t need an MOT from 31 October 2018. You won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT for your vehicle. However, each time you tax your historic vehicle (even if you don’t pay a fee), you’ll have to declare it meets the rules for not needing an MOT.

More information

The maximum fees MOT centres can charge won’t change.

In January 2018, the government decided to keep the age a vehicle needs its first MOT at 3 years, rather than extend it to 4 years.

You can get a free MOT reminder by text message or email a month before your MOT is due.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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