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New MOT rule changes: what you need to know

Get up to speed on the all-new MOT regulations to make sure you don’t get caught out

Changes to the MOT test from 20 May 2018 introduce stricter emissions rules for certain diesel cars, a new categorisation system for vehicle faults found, and some vehicles more than 40 years old will become exempt. Make sure you know what to expect so you don’t get ripped off by garages.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, the way the MOT test works for cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles is changing.

Not only are new checks being introduced, but faults found through these checks are also being recorded in a new way. Plus you may not need to put your car through an MOT test at all, provided it’s old enough.

We’ve outlined the main changes to the MOT test below, so keep reading.

See our expert guide on how to pass an MOT check.

New MOT changes video

Watch our video to find out about the main changes to the MOT test.

Can’t see the video? Click new MOT rules.

Stricter diesel car emissions rules

Modern diesel cars are fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is a device that reduces emissions by capturing and storing exhaust soot. DPFs will be subject to tighter new MOT rules.

Your car will now get a major fault (and fail its MOT test) if the MOT tester can see smoke of any colour coming from the vehicle’s exhaust, or if the DPF is found to have been tampered with.

Replacing a DPF can be expensive. In a snapshot investigation, we asked eight garages to quote us for replacing the DPF on a diesel version of the UK’s bestselling car, the previous generation Ford Fiesta.

Prices ranged from £434 to a whopping £1,312. A few of the garages told us the ‘aftermarket price’, which meant using non-Ford parts. If we did this, it cut the cost by hundreds of pounds.

Use Which? Trusted Traders to find a local garage you can trust.

New faults system

Any faults found with your car during its MOT test will now be categorised as ‘minor’, ‘major’ or ‘dangerous’, depending on how serious the fault is. If the MOT tester finds any dangerous or major faults with your vehicle, it will fail its MOT test.

If a dangerous fault is found, you will not even be able to drive your car away from the test centre, even to get it repaired. You need to get it repaired there, or have it towed away.

The MOT tester can still offer ‘advisories’ for things that you should monitor that may become a more serious issue in the future.

New MOT tests

A whole raft of more minor additional checks are also being added to the MOT test.

For example, MOT testers will now check if tyres are obviously underinflated. They will also check for fluid leaks from your car that could pose a risk to the environment, and check to make sure that brake fluid has not been contaminated with other substances that may impact brake performance.

Don’t trust your car to pass its test? See the top new and second-hand cars you can buy in 2018.

MOT certificate changing

The MOT certificate you are issued with after your MOT test is changing. This is due to the new way the MOT tester categorises faults as either minor, major or dangerous – with faults now listed under these headings.

Some cars more than 40 years old become exempt

Previously, only vehicles built before 1960 were exempt from needing to take an annual MOT test to be driven on the road.

Now there will be a rolling time period for which old vehicles no longer need an MOT test. Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won’t need an MOT if they’re more than 40 years old and have not been substantially changed.

From 20 May 2018, historic vehicles won’t need an MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were first registered. So if your car was first registered before May 1978, under the new rules it will no longer need an MOT to be driven on the road.

To check the date when your vehicle was first registered, you can use the government’s MOT history check service.

Is there anything else I need to know?

The maximum fees MOT centres can charge have not changed. The maximum fee they can charge for an MOT is £54.85, but they will often be advertised for around £35-£45 to encourage and keep business.

From the date your vehicle was first registered, it must take an MOT test annually from year three onwards.

To make it easier to remember when you need to take your car in for an MOT, you can sign up for the government’s free MOT reminder service to get a text message or email a month before your MOT is due.

You risk being fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

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