2018 MOT test changes: what you need to know

A revised MOT test was rolled out on 20 May, and introduces tougher emission standards for diesels and a new defect classification system for faulty vehicles.

MOT test changes May 2018

The Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency (DVSA) says the changes will result in “cleaner and safer” vehicles on the UK’s roads, and will encourage motorists to have necessary repairs carried out.

Here’s what you need to know…

Tougher tests for diesels

Under the revised test, diesel cars will automatically fail if there’s visible smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust. Aiming to improve air quality and tighten up emission regulations, this revision to the test comes in the midst of a seemingly unstoppable slump in diesel registrations.

As well as the tighter smoke limits, cars that have had their diesel particulate filter (DPF) removed or tampered with will also instantly fail the test, too. In the case of the latter, a tester will need to see proof that work has been carried out on the DPF legitimately in order to issue a pass.

New emission limits for diesels are part of the revised MOT test

DPFs became compulsory with the introduction of Euro 5 emissions standard in 2009, although some larger-engined Euro 4 engines were also fitted with them, too.

While they help reduce particulate exhaust matter, some people had them removed to enhance performance or avoid expensive repair bills. In the past, some independent garages even offered DPF removal as a service – an illegal practice that the MOT changes should completely eradicate.

New MOT fault categories

Three new fault categories will be introduced, instead of the simple Pass, Fail and Advisory. Defects found during the test will now be categorised as either dangerous, major, or minor. You can find out what each one means and how if affects your MOT result in the table below.

Category: What it means: MOT result:
DangerousA direct and immediate risk to road safety and/or has a serious impact on the environment. Vehicle shouldn’t be driven until repaired.Fail
Major It may affect vehicle safety, put others road users at risk or impact the environment. Immediate repair needed.Fail
MinorNo significant effect on safety/environment. Repair as soon as possible.Pass
Advisory It could become a defect in the future. Monitor and repair if necessary.Pass
PassMinimum legal standard met, and car should be maintained at that standard.Pass

The new categories and faults will be displayed on a redesigned MOT certificate, so they’re clear and easy to understand. Some new items will also be tested under the rejigged MOT test. They include:

  • checking that tyres of obviously underinflated;
  • if the brake fluid is contaminated;
  • for fluid leaks causing environmental risks;
  • the brake pad warning lights;
  • operation of reversing lights, headlight washers and daytime running lights if fitted.

DVSA's chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “I’d urge all motorists to familiarise themselves with the new items that will be included in the test so that they can avoid their vehicle failing its MOT. To be safe and responsible motorists should also carry out simple vehicle checks all year round.”

    How often is the MOT test?

    A car must be MOTd once a year if it’s over three years old or more. You must obtain a new one by the anniversary of its last MOT, and you can have your vehicle tested up to 28 days before its expiration date if you want to retain its anniversary.

    Does my lease car need an MOT

    There were plans to change to up the age before a car is due an MOT from three years to four years, but ministers ended up scrapping the proposals on safety grounds, with a Department for Transport (DfT) public survey finding fewer than 50% of people were in favour of the change.

    Does my lease car need an MOT?

    The majority of lease contracts last between two and four years. Those with agreements of two years or less don’t need to worry about an MOT at all. Generally, those with three-year contracts shouldn’t have to either, unless their car was a pre-registered, in-stock vehicle.

    In that case, it will have been registered before you took delivery. This means it will be over three years old by the time your agreement comes to an end. As such, you’ll have to MOT the vehicle before handing it back to the leasing company.

    Which lease cars need an MOT?

    Those with contracts of four years or more are responsible for ensuring it is road-worthy and has a valid MOT certificate, unless your lease agreement says otherwise.

    However, if a maintenance package is included in your contract, then the leasing company is usually responsible for the MOT. If you’re unsure, check your agreement.

    Lease cars are among the newest and greenest on the road.

    Happily, even if your lease vehicle requires an MOT, it won’t be affected by the changes to diesel emission limits: all lease vehicles registered after 2014 comply with the latest Euro 6 emissions standards and have proven to be among the newest, cleanest and safest cars on the road.

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