New MOT Changes Come into Force

New Ministry of Transport (MOT) rules to be introduced this spring mean passing the annual statutory MOT test is about to get a whole lot harder. The changes implemented on 20 May 2018 will affect all class 3, 4, 5 and 7 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

Today's fault reporting system - an MOT failure or pass with advisories - will now be replaced with a new three-tier system, categorised as dangerousmajor and minor.

Dangerous defects will immediately fail the MOT test and the vehicle cannot be driven until the fault is rectified. A major defect also represents a failure, but the vehicle can be driven to a place of repair. A minor defect is similar to the existing advisory, with the defect recorded and the vehicle allowed to pass.

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is still compiling the new MOT inspection manual, which may be subject to change before the final instalment in this month. Some of the proposed changes that would result in an MOT failure, categorised as having either dangerous or major defects, are as follows:

To begin with, car owners who have replaced the standard halogen headlamp bulbs on their vehicle with high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs will immediately fail, even if the aim is correct. It has always been a grey area to retrofit HID bulbs to halogen headlamps and the MOT has now been aligned to eliminate any uncertainty.

In the past, auxiliary lighting was not included in the MOT regulations, but now they include reverse lamps on vehicles registered on or after 1 September 2009, along with daytime running lamps (DRL) and front fog lamps on vehicles registered on or after 1 March 2018. Wherever these are fitted as original equipment they must be functional to qualify for a pass.

Instrument panel warning lamps that were previously only advisories, such as the engine malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) and low brake pad wear indicator, must now illuminate with the ignition on and extinguish once the engine is running to meet the pass criteria.

Under the new MOT test, excessive fluid leaks, excluding water that constitute a serious risk and are likely to harm the environment or pose a safety risk to other road users will be categorised as a dangerous or major failure - potentially taking the car off the road.

The rules on brakes are also more stringent. Brake discs are considered a major fail if they show significant and obvious signs of wear. The parking brake can also fail with just excessive travel, whereas previously it would only fail if there was no reserve travel left.

A peculiar addition to the draft MOT inspection manual concerns contaminated brake fluid. This is confined to a visual inspection on transparent brake fluid reservoirs and the cap must not be removed to test. With very little guidelines and tools to test it, it is left to the MOT testers’ discretion whether it passes or not.

Perhaps the most important change in the MOT inspection is focused around diesel vehicles. Vehicles over three years old will be put through their paces with tighter emission testing. Any vehicle fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that emits visible smoke will get a major category and fail the MOT. MOT testers are also advised to check whether the DPF has been removed or tampered with. If there is evidence the DPF has been cut open to remove the inside and re-welded, they can refuse to test it, unless the owner can verify this was for legitimate reasons, such as DPF cleaning.

To align with the new strict emission test limit, MOT stations are advised to update the software on their diesel smoke meter (DSM). All diesel vehicles registered on or after 1 January 2014 are required to pass the reduced emission test limit of 0.7m-1. Furthermore, this limit could be even lower if the manufacturer has specified a value on the vehicle identification plate when the car was new - making it even tougher for diesel vehicles to pass.

These are just some of the proposed changes in the draft inspection manual that are likely to affect the average motorist. There are many more, including the way testers record details on the MOT inspection.

Remember, these are not carved in stone and could change before 20th May 2018. If you offer MOTs at your workshop, ensure that all your technicians are up-to-date with all the new regulations. Some of your customers may not be aware of the changes, so it is worth letting them know as soon as they have booked that there are new regulations which may affect whether their vehicle passes. Be prepared to also explain the new regulations to your customers in detail. Answering their questions promptly and effectively will reassure them that your establishment is professional and able to carry out any work required on their vehicle accordingly.

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