New changes to the MOT rules came into existence in May 2018. The changes affect MOT’s on all cars, vans, motorbikes and light passenger vehicles. The new rules were brought into improve the quality of vehicles on the road, improve vehicle emission control systems and help reach the EU’s zero fatalities objective in road transport by 2050.

What are the changes?

New categories

Before, if you were to get an MOT, you would either pass or fail it, and the tester also had the option to give you an ‘advisory’ note, which was some advice on something that they suggest to be looked at, but is not severe enough to fail you. Now the new MOT rules have introduced three categories of failure.

Minor – This is the same as ‘advisory’ and can be issued alongside an MOT pass.

Major – If you have a major vehicle defect, you will fail your MOT, and the car can only be driven to a place of repair before a retest.

Dangerous – The most severe rating is classed as a dangerous fault, which will result in an immediate fail and the car is not allowed to be driven until the repair has been made.

Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

There are now going to be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (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 checks

These include:

  • if tyres are obviously underinflated
  • if the brake fluid has been contaminated
  • for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
  • brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
  • 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)


The MOT Certificate has changed

It 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 has been updated to reflect the changes.


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

Vehicles that have been registered for more than 40 years will not need an MOT. The exception to this rule surrounds vehicles that have been ‘substantially changed’ within the last 30 years. A vehicle is considered ‘substantially changed’ if the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the last 30 years. The main components for vehicles are:

  • Chassis – or Monocoque bodyshell including any sub-frames
  • Axles and running gear – alteration of the type and/or method of suspension or steering is considered a substantial change
  • Engine – If the number of cylinders in an engine is different from the original, it is likely to be the case that the current engine is not alternative equipment.

The following changes are considered acceptable:

The changes that are made to preserve a vehicle where original type parts are no longer available
Changes to the brand of vehicle that were done in production or within 10 years of it
Axels and running gear changes made to improve efficiency, safety or environmental reasons

New MOT Rules: what and how they affect us all