We all know that an MOT test is a legal requirement, but what does the test actually entail?

All cars over 3 years old in the UK must pass an MOT every year to show they are safe to be on the road. It is illegal to drive a car in the UK without a valid MOT certificate, so it’s important to remember to book a test before your current MOT runs out.

What does MOT mean?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport. MOT test centres must be authorised to carry out these tests. It’s important to bear this in mind as your local friendly garage may not be able to do your MOT test if they are not an authorised test centre.

What does an MOT check?

The MOT tests dozens of different aspects of your car, to check that it is safe to be on the roads. It is important to remember that it is testing predominantly for safety, not smooth running or efficiency.

An MOT will test the brakes, fuel system, lights, mirrors, windscreen wipers and exhaust, but not the condition of the clutch, engine or gearbox.

How long does an MOT take?

The actual test itself shouldn’t take more than an hour to complete – but it is important to bear in mind that if your car fails the test and requires work, you will need to allow time for this.

If your current MOT certificate has expired, and your car fails the test, the testing centre is not allowed to let you drive the car away until work has been done and the test passed.

This means that it is always better to allow a day or so for your MOT test.

Changes to the MOT test in 2019

This year the government introduced changes to the standard MOT test. There are new categories and also new checks to be carried out.

New MOT categories for 2019

These are the new categories and definitions brought into effect this year:

  • Pass: the vehicle meets the current standard for maintenance and condition
  • Advisory: an issue with the vehicle which could become more serious in the future
  • Minor: an issue with no significant effect on safety at present, but which must be repaired as soon as possible
  • Major: an issue which could affect the safety of the vehicle, put other road users at risk or affect the environment. A major issue results in immediate failure of the MOT.
  • Dangerous: This is a vehicle deemed a direct or immediate risk to either road users or the environment and constitutes an immediate fail.

It is illegal to drive away with a dangerous defect on their vehicle, but minor faults are flagged on the MOT.

New MOT checks for 2019

Additional checks are now being made as part of the MOT test. These include:

  • Checking whether tyres are obviously underinflated
  • Checking whether brake fluid is contaminated
  • Checking for fluid leaks which could pose an environmental risk
  • Checking brake pad warning lights, and checking whether brake pads or discs are missing
  • In vehicles first used from September 2009 onwards, reversing lights are checked
  • In vehicles first used from September 2009 onwards, headlight washers (where present) are checked
  • In vehicles first used from March 2018 onwards, daytime running lights are checked

Diesel vehicles are now tested to ensure they are not leaking emissions into the environment. The diesel particulate filter (DPF) in a vehicle will be checked, and if it has been removed or tampered with the vehicle will automatically fail its MOT. A major fault will be incurred if there is visible smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust.
For your car’s MOT in Northampton visit Calmac Tyres Autocentre. They offer a VOSA approved MOT testing service.

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.

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