MOT Test of Lights and Headlamps | What is checked | Headlights

MOT Test of lights and headlamps

MOT Test of Lights, Headlamps and electrical equipment (4)

(Formerly MOT Test of Lights and Headlamps)

The precise requirements for vehicle lighting are complex and, to an extent, dependent upon the age of the vehicle as to where the lights should be situated on the vehicle, the type of lighting, and how they are checked.

Headlamps aren’t needed on vehicles first used before 1 January 1931.

The Tester will inspect:

  • Headlamps for aim and operation
  • Sidelights (known as position lamps) for location, operation and condition
  • Side marker lamps and end outline marker lamps (as appropriate) for presence, location, operation and condition.
  • Stop lamps for presence, operation and condition.
  • Daytime running lamps (for vehicles made after 1/3/18)
  • Direction indicators and hazard warning lamps for presence, condition and operation and flashing frequency.
  • Front fog lamps (for vehicles made after 1/3/18) for presence, condition and operation.
  • Rear fog lamps
  • Reversing lamps (for vehicles made after 1/9/09)
  • Rear registration plate lamps
  • Rear reflectors

Notes:
The switching systems to all the lamps will be inspected where that is appropriate. Sometimes the switches will be part of an integrated system, e.g. the fog lamps may be part of the overall switching system for both position lamps and headlamps.

The inspection to determine the ‘condition’ of the lamps will include how much light is emitted (is it sufficient?), the colour of the light emitted, if the lamp has been repaired with coloured tape, is it appropriate? And so on.

All required lights are checked for:

  • Presence
  • Condition
  • Operation
  • Security

Headlamps

The Tester will inspect for condition, operation, alignment and security.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A headlamp:
i. with up to ½ light sources* not functioning in the case of LED
Minor
ii. missing, inoperative or more than ½ not functioning in the case of LED
Major
b. Headlamp reflector or lens:
i. slightly defective
Minor
ii. seriously defective or missing
Major
c. Lamp not securely attached
Major

* A ‘light source’ means any bulb, LED or other means of emitting light.


Headlamp alignment

Headlamps alignment is checked with specialised equipment.

All dipped beam headlamps fitted will be checked.

It’s acceptable for masks or converter kits to be fitted to right hand dip headlamps to temporarily alter the lamp for use in the UK by removing the beam ‘kick-up’ to the right.

If driver’s beam aim controls are fitted, the beam aim will be Tested without altering the control setting. If this would result in failure for beam aim being too low, the Tester will re-check the beam aim with the control set at its ‘highest’ position.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. The aim of a headlamp is not within limits laid down in the requirements
Major
b. Headlamp aim unable to be tested
Major

Headlamp switching

Dipped or main beam headlamps must immediately light up when they’re switched on (depending on the position of the dip switch).

Headlamps must switch immediately between main beam and dipped beam when you move the dip switch.

Moving the dip switch must do one of the following:

  • extinguish all main beam headlamps and leave on at least one pair of dipped-beam headlamps
  • deflect the main beams to make them dipped beams

Dipped beam headlamps can remain on or switch off when main beam is selected.

When optional headlamps are fitted:

  • if one is fitted it must dip
  • if 2 are fitted, either both must dip or one must dip and the other switch off

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Headlamp ‘on’ switch does not operate in accordance with the requirements
Minor
b. Headlamp ‘dip’ switch does not operate in accordance with the requirements
Major

Headlamp cleaning devices

The Tester will inspect vehicles first used on or after 1 September 2009 equipped with headlamp washers.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Headlamp cleaning device:
i. inoperative
Minor
ii. inoperative in the case of LED or gas discharge systems (HIDMajor

Front and rear position lamps, side marker lamps and end-outline marker lamps

Presence, condition and operation

This inspection is for:

  • mandatory position lamps
  • mandatory end-outline marker lamps
  • daytime running lamps (DRLs) fitted to vehicles first used on or after 1 March 2018

Vehicles don’t need to be fitted with position lamps, or they can have such lamps permanently disconnected, painted over or masked. In this situation you will receive an advisory notice. These vehicles don’t need end-outline marker lamps.

All lamps

Repairs to lamps will be assessed for security, colour, light output and durability.

Front and rear position lamps

Vehicles must have 2 front and 2 rear position lamps, except for tricycles or quadricycles that are less than 1,300mm wide.

Daytime running lamps (DRLs) or headlamps may function as front position lamps. If the DRLs function as front position lamps, they should dim when rear position lamps are switched on and may turn off when headlamps are switched on.

Front position lamps can switch off when the front fog lamps are switched on.

The front and rear position lamps must light up at the same time with the registration plate lamps and end-outline marker lamps.

Daytime running lamps

Testers will only inspect daytime running lamps (DRLs) if they’re fitted as original equipment to vehicles first used on or after 1 March 2018.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A lamp missing or inoperative
Major
b. Defective lens
Major
c. Lamp:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major

Position lamps (sidelights etc) switching

It must be possible to switch on the position lamps from the driver’s seat with a single operation of the switch. The position lamps must light up at the same time as the registration plate lamps and any end-outline marker lamps where they are fitted.

Some vehicles have position lamps that come on automatically when the engine is running.

Daytime running lamps (DRLs) or headlamps may function as front position lamps. If the DRLs function as front position lamps, they should dim when rear position lamps are switched on and may turn off when headlamps are switched on.

The front position lamps may turn off when the headlamps or front fog lamps are switched on.

If position lamps are combined with direction indicators, position lamps should switch off when the relevant direction indicator is flashing.

The front and rear position lamps must light up at the same time with the end-outline marker lamps where they are fitted.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Switch does not operate in accordance with the requirements or the rear position lamps can be switched off when the headlamps are on
Major
b. Function of the switch impaired
Major

Direction indicators and hazard warning lamps

Presence, condition and operation

The Tester will inspect all direction indicators and hazard warning lamps.

Direction indicators and hazard warning lamps aren’t needed for vehicles that:

  • don’t have front and rear position lamps
  • have front and rear position lamps that are permanently disconnected, painted over or masked
  • were first used before 1 January 1936

Direction indicators must be amber.

Vehicles first used before 1 September 1965 may have white front indicators and red rear indicators, if the direction indicators are combined with stop lamps or combined with front or rear position lamps.

Vehicles first used before 1 April 1986 don’t need to have hazard warning devices.

Vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 must be fitted with an amber side repeater indicator on each side.

The side repeater can be part of the front direction indicator if it has one of the following:

  • a wraparound lens marked either with an ‘E’ mark in a circle or an ‘e’ mark in a rectangle with a number 5 above it
  • an amber light coming through the front lens when viewed from 1m to the side of the rear bumper

Semaphore arms may flash but don’t need to.

A ‘light source’ means any bulb, LED or other means of emitting light.

The Tester will assess repairs to lamps for security, colour, light output and durability.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A direction indicator:
i. lamp with a multiple light source up to 1/2 not functioning
Minor
ii. lamp missing, inoperative or in the case of a multiple light source more than 1/2 not functioning
Major
b. A lens defective:
i. which has no effect on emitted light
Minor
ii. such that the emitted light is adversely affected
Major
c. A lamp:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major

Direction indicators switching

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Indicator or hazard warning switch:
i. does not operate in accordance with the requirements
Minor
ii. inoperativeMajor

Compliance with requirements

(Position, colour, flashing etc)

Vehicles first used before 1 September 1965 may have white front indicators and red rear indicators, if the direction indicators are combined with stop lamps or combined with front or rear position lamps.

On vehicles first used on or after 1 September 1965 with direction indicators combined with position lamps, the position lamp must go out when its direction indicator is flashing. The direction indicator must flash amber only, with no white or red light.

A semaphore arm must light up when switched on, but it doesn’t need to flash.

The precise position of lamps isn’t part of the inspection. The Tester will check visually that they are at about the same height and distance from each side of the vehicle.

The Tester will assess repairs to lamps for security, colour, light output and durability.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Lamp emitted colour, position or intensity not in accordance with the requirements
Major

Flashing frequency

Indicators must flash at between 60 and 120 times per minute. Semaphore type direction indicators don’t need to flash.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Rate of flashing not between 60 and 120 times per minute
Minor

Front and rear fog lamps

Presence, condition and operation

The Tester will inspect:

  • front fog lamps fitted to vehicles first used on or after 1 March 2018
  • the 1 rear fog lamp which must be fitted to the centre or offside of vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1980

A rear fog lamp isn’t needed on:

  • vehicles not fitted with front and rear position lamps
  • vehicles with permanently disconnected, painted over or masked front and rear position lamps
  • tricycles and quadricycles

Front and rear fog lamps are permitted to operate independently of any other lamps or ignition systems.

Fog lamps must produce a steady light which is:

  • white – for front fog lamps
  • red – for rear fog lamps

Rear fog lamps may be combined with the rear position lamps.

A ‘light source’ means any bulb, LED or other means of emitting light.

The Tester will assess repairs to lamps for security, colour, light output and durability.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a.
i. A front or rear fog lamp with a multiple light source up to 1/2 not functioning
Minor
ii. An obligatory rear fog lamp missing, or a front or rear fog lamp inoperative or in the case of a multiple light source more than 1/2 not functioning
Major
b. A lens defective:
i. which has no effect on emitted light
Minor
ii. such that emitted light is adversely affected
Major
c. A front or rear fog lamp:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major

Fog lamp switching

Front and rear fog lamp switches may be combined or independent switches.

The switch or switches must:

  • be secure
  • be able to be operated from the normal driving position
  • operate the fog lamps as intended

Rear fog lamps may be combined with the rear position lamps.

Front and rear fog lamps are permitted to operate independently of any other lamps or ignition systems.

The function of a fog lamp mustn’t be adversely affected by the operation of any other lamp.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Front or rear fog lamp switch:
i. not operating in accordance with the requirements
Minor
ii. inoperativeMajor

Compliance with requirements

The Tester will inspect:

  • all front fog lamps fitted to vehicles first used on or after 1 March 2018
  • the 1 rear fog lamp which must be fitted to the centre or offside of vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1980

Fog lamps must produce a steady light which is:

  • white – for front fog lamps
  • red – for rear fog lamps

Rear fog lamps may be combined with the rear position lamps.

A rear fog lamp isn’t needed on:

  • vehicles not fitted with front and rear position lamps
  • vehicles with permanently disconnected, painted over or masked front and rear position lamps that are
  • tricycles and quadricycles

The Tester will assess repairs to lamps for security, colour, light output and durability.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Front or rear fog lamp emitted colour, position or intensity not in accordance with the requirements
Major

Reversing lamps

Condition and operation

The Tester will inspect all reversing lamps fitted to vehicles first used from 1 September 2009.

Reversing lamps must show a white light to the rear. On some vehicles it may be necessary to have the engine running before the reversing lamps will work.

One or two reversing lamps may be fitted, but they must all work.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A reversing lamp inoperative
Minor
b. A reversing lamp lens defective
Minor
c. A reversing lamp:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major

Reversing lamp switching

Reversing lamps must operate automatically when reverse gear is selected and extinguish when reverse gear is deselected.

The following category applies to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Reversing lamp switch not operating in accordance with the requirements
Major

Rear registration plate lamps

Checked for:

Presence, condition and operation

The Tester will inspect the registration plate lamps on all vehicles fitted with front and rear position lamps.

Registration plate lamps must light up the rear registration plate. Some vehicles may have these lamps fitted behind the number plate.

A ‘light source’ means any bulb, LED or other means of emitting light.

Tricycles and quadricycles classed as mopeds don’t need a rear registration plate lamp.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A rear registration plate lamp throwing direct white light to the rear
Minor
b. A rear registration plate lamp or light source missing or inoperative:
i. in the case of multiple lamps or light sources
Minor
ii. in the case of a single lamp or all lamps
Major
c. A registration plate lamp:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major

Compliance with requirements

The tester will inspect the registration plate lamps on all vehicles fitted with front and rear position lamps.

Registration plate lamps must operate at the same time as the position lamps.

Tricycles and quadricycles classed as mopeds don’t need a rear registration plate lamp.

The following category applies to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Rear registration plate lamp does not illuminate simultaneously with the position lamps
Major

Rear reflectors

Presence, condition and operation

The Tester will inspect the 2 mandatory red rear reflectors that must be fitted.

Rear reflectors aren’t needed on vehicles:

  • not fitted with front and rear position lamps
  • have front and rear position lamps permanently disconnected, painted over or masked

Reflective tape isn’t an acceptable substitute for a rear reflector.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. Reflector defective or damaged:
ii. by up to 50% of the reflecting surface
Minor
ii. by more than 50% of the reflecting surface
Major
b. Reflector:
i. not securely attached
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major
DefectCategory
a. Reflector:
i. colour or position not in accordance with the requirements
Minor
ii. missing or reflecting white to the rear
Major

‘Tell-tales’ mandatory for lighting equipment

(This section is repeated in the Instrument Panel checks page)

Presence, condition and operation

The Tester will inspect the following lighting ‘tell-tales’:

  • headlamp main beam
  • direction indicators
  • hazard warning lamps
  • rear fog lamps

A main beam ‘tell-tale’ is only required on vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986. Class 3 vehicles don’t need to have the main-beam tell-tale inspected.

A direction indicator ‘tell-tale’ can be audible or visual.

A hazard warning ‘tell-tale’ must be a flashing light.

A rear fog ‘tell-tale’ is only required where a rear fog lamp is mandatory.

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A mandatory tell-tale:
i. for direction indicators or hazard warning missing or inoperative
Minor
ii. for main beam headlamp or rear fog lamp missing or inoperative
Major

‘Tell-tales’ – compliance

The Tester will inspect the ‘tell-tale’ for hazard warning lamps, which must be a flashing light.

The following category applies to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A hazard warning lamp tell-tale is not a flashing light
Minor

Trailer electrical socket

The tester will inspect the trailer electrical socket on vehicles fitted with a towing coupling.

If there’s no tow ball or pin, but the attachment brackets are still in place, the Tester will assess the electrical sockets if the tow ball or pin has been:

  • detached
  • unbolted
  • otherwise removed

The Tester will not assess the electrical sockets if the attachment brackets have been deliberately made unfit for further use.

The Tester will not assess the trailer electrical socket if tools or specialist equipment are needed to remove access panels in the bumper or bodywork to gain access to the socket.

A trailer electrical socket with a defective or missing cover flap that incorporates a lug and spring to hold the plug in place isn’t considered to be a defect.

On vehicles fitted with a trailer 13 pin Euro-socket, the Tester will use an approved device to check that the socket is wired to correctly operate the trailer:

  • position lamps
  • stop lamps
  • direction indicators
  • rear fog lamp

The following categories apply to defects in this section:

DefectCategory
a. A trailer electrical socket:
i. insecure
Minor
ii. likely to become detached
Major
b. A trailer electrical socket wiring:
i. insulation damaged or deteriorated
Minor
ii. insulation damaged or deteriorated and likely to cause a short-circuit
Major
c. A 13-pin trailer socket:
i. not functioning correctly
Major
ii. not functioning at all
Dangerous
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