MOT Questions and Answers – 2

MOT Questions and Answers

If the Car Owner’s Guide to the MOT or the questions and answers on these pages don’t cover your problem, try posing your question on the MOT Forum.

Below is a selection of Frequently Asked Questions, more will be added from time to time.

Please note that regulations may change from time to time, and the general advice given here may have been superseded. Whilst we make every attempt to ensure that information provided is correct, for a definitive answer, visitors should refer to the MOT Tester’s Manual.

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I have a 1961 MGA and have just been told by my local garage that it will require to have a means to prevent the driver an passenger seats tipping forward. As this car is a 2 seat vehicle, with the hood/roof being stored behind the seats, fixing the seats in an immovable position will: Change the original nature of the car Cause difficulty in raising the canvas double-duck hood Can you please tell me if this will be a legal requirement for vehicles in the ‘classic’ (over 25 years) age-group? Thanks E H CROSSEN

Provided your vehicle was never fitted with a mechanism to lock the seats down, then it should not fail the MOT on the seats themselves because the MOT regulations contain a clause which, under the heading “Original Design”, says “Original design characteristics and specialised modifications (eg to enable wheel chair access) are to be accepted”. But you’re not ‘in the clear’ yet! There is another requirement that if the seat belts are fitted to the seats, and not to the vehicle itself, then a failure will apply “for seats with seat belts attached to them; any insecure attachment of the seat to the vehicle structure”, and if the seat tilts forward I suspect a Tester could be within his or her rights to decide that is an “insecure attachment”. There’s no proviso at all in this section regarding “Original design”. MOTT


I have a Nissan Micra 1991 G plate. I never use the side light switch setting always the main headlights which are fully functional when required. However when the side light only position is selected when the ignition is on the nearside headlight also comes on. The last 4 Mot’s have not raised this ~ what are the regulations regarding this and is this sufficient to fail the MOT test? Previously I have been advised that as long as the headlights work satisfactorily then this meets the requirements. Can you advise please? Many thanks!

The fault you have described is not listed in The MOT Manual (that’s the MOT Tester’s bible!) as a “reason for rejection” and so your car should not have been failed. However, as I am sure you realise, this is a potentially dangerous fault ­ and it’s not resulting in a failure is, perhaps, an oversight by the authorities. MOTT


Can you please tell me what you think about the following case: My 1987 Mercedes 190E passed it’s MOT 5 days ago. Last night the front driver’s side lower ball joint ‘popped’ out of it’s cup, leaving the car stranded. Fortunately I was only doing 10mph in a car park at the time. I dread to think what would have happened if it had happened on the motorway 5 minutes earlier. I understand that ball joints wear out and do not just suddenly fail. Should the excessive wear that therefore must have been present not have been picked up on during the MOT?

If the ball joint was excessively worn when the MOT was carried out resulting in the failure you describe, and for whatever reason this was not detected on the Test, then that is a cause for concern and you should go back to the garage to discuss this with them ­ after all, everybody makes mistakes from time to time. If you feel that the garage have not provided a satisfactory answer, and/or outcome, then if you telephone the ‘hot-line’ number on the reverse of the pass certificate, this provides you with a mechanism to notify the MOT Testing authorities. On the other hand, whilst unlikely, the joint may have failed due to impact damage. Has the vehicle been, for example, ‘kerbed’ during the intervening five days? I hope this assists you. MOTT.


My bike exhaust silencer is an after market type which has no markings such as OEM No’s, E marks or race only. Admittedly it is slightly louder than the OEM silencer. Is this an MOT failure? John Martin

The regulations here have changed. Now, the only issue regarding the type of exhaust is that it should not contain any notice on it which indicates that it is not for road use. As far as the noise is concerned the regulations are quite wordy but boil down to the Tester being able to fail the exhaust if the noise emitted is “clearly in excess”, of what would normally be expected. MOTT.


Is it correct that the regulations have been relaxed on non standard systems, I read that the Tester now decides if the exhaust is too loud, how would this stand in a police check? thanks

Yes, you are correct. As far as the exhaust is concerned the Tester can now decide whether or not the exhaust is acceptable. As far as a police check is concerned I am not in a position to assist as I do not know the rules the police apply. What I do know is that generally if the police believe a vehicle is not roadworthy they issue their own certificate and ask that the vehicle is checked for whatever items they think are of concern at an MOT Testing station.

It should be noted that this is very much a police issue and actually has nothing to do with the MOT Testing Scheme and Testing Stations are not obliged to carry out the checks ­ and understandably charge if they do indeed check the items. The police have simply decided of their own volition to use MOT Testing Stations as the best way of checking that a vehicle’s ‘roadworthiness’ items are in acceptable condition.


I have a query regarding MOT testing and was hoping you might be able to Help me. Basically, myself and some colleges are planning to buy an MOT Certified car for very cheap and then angle grind the roof off for the summer to make a the car a convertible. I’m working on the assumption that as a result this would then fail its MOT (is this true?), however, for the duration of the existing MOT is it legal to drive the car in that state? Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, Alasdair Cook

You are correct that regarding the MOT you would not be committing an ‘MOT’ offence by cutting the roof off your car as the existing MOT would still be valid. However it would almost certainly fail an MOT in that state and also be illegal to drive on the road (irrespective of its having a valid MOT) unless you have taken the appropriate steps to properly reinforce the structure so that the structural integrity and strength of the body shell is at least as strong as the original structure. MOTT.

Hello I have some questions regarding the MOT test and some pass/fail criteria. If you have the time to answer them I would be very grateful.


My car has developed a very slight knocking noise when turning right on full lock. I understand the cause of this to be the CV joint. Is it likely this will cause the car to fail the test?


My motorcycle has a vibration when using the front brake, it has only done 10k miles and I think the vibration was caused following an incident with a disk lock. The performance of the brakes are not affected however at certain speeds there is a slight vibration whilst using the brakes.


Also with the bike, I sometimes get blue smoke coming from the exhaust on the overrun but not under load. Will this affect the MOT emissions test? (Bike is a 2002 model) Any suggestions on the cause? Regards Chris Wightman

1. Yes, if the CV joint is found to be “worn to excess”, or the CV rubber boot is ruptured your car will fail the MOT.

2. Provided on inspection the Tester finds no fault with the brake, and the vibration is not apparent when the brakes are tested, then the machine should not fail the MOT on its brakes.

3. Motorcycle emissions are not currently tested for the MOT. Without checking the machine and in particular checking the compression in the cylinder(s), I can offer no explanation for the smoke on the over run. I hope this helps. MOTT.


Could you please advise whether the MOT Test requires the Tester to confirm the fitted tyres are the size specified by the manufacturer for that vehicle. Colin Stacey

No, there are no regulations requiring the Tester to confirm that tyres fitted to a vehicle presented for MOT comply with the vehicle manufacturers recommendations. It is necessary, however, to ensure that any tyres fitted do comply with the tyre manufacturer’s recommendation. An example would be a tyre fitted so it rotates in the opposite sense to the direction of rotation noted on the tyre side wall. MOTT.


I have a 2002 clio expression 1.2, 16v. The passengers side airbag in the seat was triggered before I bought the car. I have to MOT the car in January and want to know what the regulations are for airbags which have been set off. The airbag light on the dash is on permanently as a result although the other 3 airbags were not triggered. Will this cause a fail on the MOT test? Hi there. When I turn the ignition on my airbag light comes on but also stays on until I turn the engine off. The airbag light staying on, is this an M.O.T. failure? Thanks Neil

There are no checks at all on airbags as part of the MOT Test. MOTT.


Does a front side window driver side have to open . thanks jon

Apart from the front windscreen, no other windows on a vehicle have to be checked for the MOT. MOTT.


My car has an electrical fault and the LED brake light at the top of the car is constantly on at about 20%. Would this be a fail? Thanks

Yes that would fail the MOT Test. MOTT.


I currently own a 2000 model Yamaha YZ426F Off road bike. I would like to use the bike for Enduro racing and ‘green laning’ but a requirement for both is that the bike be Taxed, Tested and Insured. How do I go about Registering the bike and Is it possible to have a day time only MOT certificate (the bike does not have lights). I have been told I can get an MOT by simply registering the machine and adding a horn to it. How reliable is this information? Many Thanks, Jon, Swindon

I am not in a position to assist you when it comes to having the vehicle taxed. However there is no need for that for the vehicle to be MOT Tested ­ the Tester can use the chassis number to identify it. As far as the lights are concerned, if they are all disconnected, or the machine has no lights, an MOT can still be carried out. Be careful, however, to ensure that all other aspects of the bike comply with road use ­– tyres for instance can be certified for off-road use only and would then fail the MOT.


I was hoping that you may be able to help me with a problem regarding the MOT on my car. The intention was to remove the door handles on my 85′ Fiat X19 and replace them with a solenoid system via remote control. What I need to know is whether the MOT tester will accept it what with having no handles!! If it’s not acceptable then what would I have to do in order to get the car through the MOT? Thanks, Tony

This is a very interesting question. Here’s what the rules say: “Open and close the driver’s door and passengers’ doors. Check that each latches securely in the closed position. Check also that front doors can be opened from both inside and outside the vehicle.” And here’s the reasons that a vehicle could fail the MOT on door latches and handles.

“A) A driver’s or any passenger’s door does not latch securely in the closed position.

B) a driver’s or front passenger’s door cannot be opened from both inside and outside the vehicle from the relevant control in each case.”

It does, however, add a caveat that a failure would not apply to: “front passenger doors if the door aperture has been permanently ‘filled’ as part of a specialised customisation provided that there are no obvious apertures or gaps”.

However this latter would not apply in your case. Your situation turns then on whether or not your remote switch could be classed as a “relevant control”. That would be for the Tester to decide in any specific case. MOTT.


Could you tell me is there a legal requirement for space between the pedals, I’ve fitted some sporty style ones but they just screw on top of the original ones. Would it be OK for my MOT to pass with these?Also, I had my car lowered about 35mm and it has 15″ alloys, would I pass my MOT with these or would I be best putting original wheels back on? Thanks, Jimmy.

There is no legal requirement regarding your pedals. However if they touch one another such that the brake pedal doesn’t operate properly, then that would result in a failure. Regarding your wheels, the only issue is whether or not they foul on anything else when turned lock to lock. MOTT.


I am enquiring, on behalf of a member of the Denbighshire Branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales about the regulation regarding the need of M.O.T for Agricultural Trailers. We would be very grateful for any information that is available. Thank you very much in anticipation of your kind co-operation. Regards Gwennan Williams Administrative Assistant.

I needed to confirm my own view with the Department for Transport. There is currently no requirement at all for Agricultural Trailers to be MOT Tested. They are seen as any other ‘light’ trailer for which there is no periodic safety inspection requirement. MOTT.


I have a digital LCD odometer and the backlit bulb has blown, making it very difficult to read the numbers. Will this be criteria for a fail? Thank you.

No, that is not an MOT failure item. MOTT.


I have a four wheel drive vehicle that can not have its brakes tested in the brake roller tester and needs to be road tested using a decelerometer. Does the Law require that the Tester wears a seat belt for the road test or is the Tester exempt? Chris Knight

Thanks for your e-mail. When an MOT Tester road tests a vehicle for any reason he is just like any other driver on the road and subject to exactly the same regulations as any other driver. MOTT.


I have a question on the MOT – the wipers on my car don’t quite work as they should – the single wipe and intermittent don’t work properly – single wipe only works when I hold the stalk up and intermittent doesn’t do a full sweep each time. However when I switch it to constant it works fine. They clear the screen perfectly well when on. Will that fail the MOT or not? Thanks in advance, Martin Evans

Provided the wipers work on constant there is no problem. MOTT.


I have a vehicle that was first registered in 1994 as a diesel but the previous owner put in a replacement petrol engine without a catalytic converter.The petrol engine is actually a non cat engine and is of 1991 manufacture. The vehicle has been passing the emissions test based on a non cat test. Will the new computerisation affect this vehicle?

With respect to what the Tester checks and the standard required during an MOT Test, computerisation will make no difference at all. MOTT.


I’m just about to send my 1962 Land Rover for it’s MOT having being restored for the past few years. There doesn’t seem to have been windscreen washers fitted at the factory (it’s ex military) but it does have wipers. Given the age of the vehicle and it is classed as having a fold down windscreen will it fail it’s MOT? Cheers, Phil

The regulations allow vehicles with fold down windscreens not to need windscreen washers. MOTT.


Is there any way in which one can change the date of an MOT, not to evade anything but just to make it a more convenient time of year? Gill Whitehead

The only way in which you can change the date for convenience, and still have the use of your car is to have the MOT Test done earlier. This may mean that, say, you lose a few months on the existing certificate, but there is no other alternative except to take your vehicle off the road after the current certificate has expired, and then having it Tested at the new date ­ thus depriving you of the use of the vehicle for a few months. MOTT.


My car is 3 years old on 12/03/05. Can I submit the car for MOT Test before this date? R.T.Fenwick

The answer is yes provided you take the registration documents with you when you go for an MOT. MOTT. UN-NECESSARY REVS Just passed emissions and failed on a wiper, handbrake and light alignment. Going back tomorrow, but do they really have to thrash the nuts out of my car again when it has passed emissions the day before??? I don’t use those sort of revs so why should a Tester have to AGAIN? Andy Humphrey

The MOT garage have no control over the procedures required during an emissions Test. If they depart from the ‘approved’ procedures, then they could have their right to carry out MOT Tests endangered. And yes, if the emissions fail, then they MUST carry out the same procedure again. MOTT.


My 1972 Landrover Series 2A does not have a rear fog light fitted and never has. The MOT Station has failed it because of this – are they right?

According the the Tester’s manual a rear fog lamp is only mandatory for vehicles “first used on or after 1 April 1980.” So it would seem that your Testing station is incorrect in this instance. Quote them the Tester’s Manual, section 1.1 page 4 under the heading “information”. Hope this helps. MOTT.


My 1990 Discovery has failed an MOT because the offside rear body to chassis mount is corroded (The chassis is fine the problem is the mount attached to the body). I called at my local Land Rover parts department to get a price for the mounting. You can’t get just the mounting, you have to buy the complete rear cross member (a nightmare to fit). Coincidently there was a discovery in the workshop having one fitted. I went through to chat to the fitter. I mentioned that my discovery had failed its MOT on the mounting. His reply was that the discovery shouldn’t have been failed on that part, as there are 9 other body to chassis mounts. I called back at my local garage to discuss this comment. They still insisted that it was a fail item. I have been using this garage for some years now, so I don’t want to go down any official route, but if you can give me your opinion or direct me to somewhere I can find out who is right, maybe I can take some information back to them. Paul Lewins

The regulations from the ‘MOT Inspection Manual’ state: a failure as arising if there is: “Any deliberate modification, excessive corrosion… of a load bearing body or chassis member which seriously affects its strength within 30cm of the body mounting”. Arguably this does not necessarily mean the body mounting itself ­ but the strict interpretation of this will be for the Tester to decide. A few years ago there was indeed a piece which clearly stated that corrosion of one body mounting, if there were many more, would not of itself be a failure. That now seems to have been omitted from the Manual. Our website does have a link to VOSA, the Government Agency which is responsible for the MOT. If you talk to somebody at their ‘hot line’, I am sure you may be able to get a more extensive ‘official’ explanation. MOTT.


My car failed its MOT due to the handbrake having “greater effectivity” on one of the rear wheels than on the other. I took my car to another garage where they told me that as long as both sides have an effectivity greater than 16%, it will pass. They also told me that there is no test for “effectivity balance” on the handbrake, only on the front brakes. They tested the handbrake and found that the weaker side had an effectivity of 19%. The original MOT Testing Station is still failing the vehicle and I was wondering which of these two garages is telling the truth. As a matter of interest, the original station also failed the car due to the orange indicator bulbs being different shades, even though neither was showing white nor could they be confused with being white. Cheers, Allen

There is no Test for balance on the handbrake, and provided you have what is called a ‘split system’ on the brakes then 19% would constitute a pass. – MOTT.

My Vehicle is a 94 Toyota Hilux Surf imported from Japan. The car does not have rear fog lights and never has. Do I need to install fog lights for my vehicle to pass an MOT. The car already has a valid MOT but from reading information on other websites I am confused as to wether or not fog lights are required ? John Dagnall.

According to the regulations under the heading of “Rear Fog Lamps”, “The inspection of rear fog lamps is confined to the one rear fog lamp which is required to be fitted to the centre or offide of vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1980.” It must also have a ‘tell-tale’ indicator light that the driver can see. So whatever has happened in the past, your 1994 imported vehicle should have a rear fog lamp fitted to pass the MOT. MOTT.


On reading your Car Owners Guide to the M.O.T., I am interested to know if any details are available regarding cars of the 1935 vintage which may not apply as your specification i.e. does it still require windscreen washers with the facility to open the screen and also are the semaphore arms still acceptable if in working order? Your kind reply would be appreciated whilst restoring, Thanking you, Bernard McCormick

The answer to your specific questions are: 1. If the windscreen opens you do not need to have windscreen washers. 2. Yes, the semaphore indicators are quite acceptable. – MOTT


The SRS warning light on my SAAB is constantly illuminated,which I am sure you are aware indicates a fault has been detected. What I need to know is would this be an automatic MOT failure or is this not part of the test. Many thanks, Ed White

The only warning light ‘fault’ that would result in an MOT failure is that connected with an ABS system. MOTT.


You say that it is an absolute requirement for any repairs to be seam welded (with a few exceptions) could you please let me know what the exceptions are and is it acceptable to make repairs to sills and wheel arches with a tack weld. Regards, Alan

The whole issue of corrosion repairs, when it is essential to seam weld, and the situations in which exceptions are acceptable is very complex and subject to specific rules and regulations laid down by the Vehicle Operater and Services Agency who regulate the MOT. It would not be possible to fully elaborate within the context of our website. A specific area of difficulty is the repair of sills and wheel arches ­ especially where the wheel arch meets the sill. Different vehicles will need to be treated in different ways as the exact situation does depend on the nature of the structure and the proximity of other safety related items – ­ seat belt anchorage points for example. MOTT.

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