New MOT Testable Items Cause Confusion

As domestic vehicles become more complex, and with safety items such as ABS, multiple airbags, high-performance headlamp light sources, power steering and electronic stability control becoming increasingly commonplace, the MOT Test regulations must constantly change in order to ensure that these components are included in the items to be checked.

That is sometimes not so easy; the authors of the Testing Manual must find a form of words which fits all of the sometimes considerable manufacturers’ variations in the new technology, as fitted to the various makes of vehicle, so that a single concise instruction will give the MOT Tester a clear guide as to what constitutes a pass or a fail.

On top of that, some of the new technology falls outside of the scope of the original legislation under which MOT Testing is carried out, so that as well as keeping track of the previously un-dreamt-of technology and determining at what point of deterioration in its performance the component may be considered to have failed, it is also becoming necessary to pass new legislation which enables the MOT Testing garage to legally ‘Fail’ the component.

This has resulted in a recent batch of changes to the MOT Test being introduced, whereby certain new items became Testable and failable, to being Testable but only ‘advisable’ (ie the Tester may only advise the vehicle presenter that the item is not functioning correctly, but may not ‘Fail’ the vehicle on that particular item), and then, as it became clear that legislation was required on some items but not others, for some items to be included in the current MOT, and others pending the required legislation.

This has left some Testers in a state of confusion; do they ‘Fail’, ‘Pass and Advise’ or not even check at all? If they make a mistake they are in trouble, not least with the vehicle presenter, who may not understand why something which their vehicle wasn’t even checked for last year is now a cause for failure. They could also be in trouble with VOSA, the government’s Executive Agency which administers the MOT, and that could impact on the Tester’s livelihood. It is to be hoped that VOSA would at least take a lenient view when dealing with these cases.

List of new Testable items and their status (as at 10 August 2012)

Items marked with * will come into force when the required legislation has been passed.


Where a steering lock mechanism is fitted as standard, Testers will check for • presence* • operation*
Other checks: • steering joint dust covers • steering box oil leakage • drive shaft support bearings and coupling gaiters • inappropriate steering repairs or modification

Under bonnet
Power steering fluid level check i.e. if visible through reservoir • damaged and/or corroded power steering pipes will be reason for failure.


Inappropriate suspension repairs or modifications*.

Shock absorber (damper) ‘bounce’ Test to be discontinued*.

Vehicle Structure

Car battery and wiring to be inspected* • Engine mountings to be assessed*.
Rear passenger door opening from outside • All door hinges, catches and pillars to be assessed.


For vehicles with HID or LED headlamps:

• Headlamp cleaning and self-levelling to be assessed* • Products on lens that reduce light output*.


• Inappropriate brake system repairs or modifications i.e. checks to brake cables, rods and joints • Load sensing valves checked for impaired function/incorrect adjustment • air brake actuator dust cover intact.

Brake performance
During a decelerometer test, if vehicle deviates from a straight line when parking brake applied then this becomes a fail • ABS and ESC components and associated wiring/switch checked for presence and condition.

Inside car

• Front and rear lights single operation • main beam warning light* • illumination of malfunction indicator light (MIL) for electric power steering* • electronic stability control, electronic park brake control, brake fluid warning lamp, tyre pressure monitoring system* • seat belt pre-tensioner • driver’s seat adjustment • speedometer*.


• A removed catalytic convertor will be a fail (petrol vehicles only).
• Gas leak detection spray for LPG vehicles.

With thanks to Stephen Coles of ReMIT for technical advice on this article.


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