How the new MOT defect categories will work

The new MOT changes on defect categories will come into effect on 20 May 2018. The following information has been taken from the DVSA blog to clarify how the new defect categories will work, particularly what will be classed as a dangerous defect, and explaining what is and is not changing.

The legal requirements
For a vehicle to be driven on Great Britain’s roads there are 2 main legal safety requirements for the vehicle. It must be roadworthy and for most vehicles of a certain age, it must have a valid MOT. Whilst these two reqirements are connected, they are not the same thing, and they both have to be met independently.

Even if a vehicle is roadworthy, it may not necessarily have an MOT (it isn’t automatic – it needs to go to a garage to be tested). Similarly, just because a vehicle has an MOT, it doesn’t automatically mean it is roadworthy. It may have a defect that has come about after the MOT certificate was issued.

These requirements will not be changing on 20 May 2018, and vehicles will still need to meet both.

‘Major’ and ‘dangerous’ defects
Currently, a vehicle will either pass or fail its MOT. Testers can then mark defects they believe are dangerous, and make the vehicle owner aware.

From 20 May, the implementation of the new directive will pre-define what is considered as ‘dangerous’. Defects that are failure items but aren’t deemed as ‘dangerous’ will be called ‘major’ defects.

After 20 May, defects that are dangerous will be set out for the vehicle owner, and the new ‘major’ term introduced for all other failures.

What ‘dangerous’ defects will mean for motorists
Moving to pre-defined dangerous defects will bring consistency to what is recorded as dangerous. DVSA has taken the opportunity to make the wording on the MOT failure documents clear in reminding motorists that driving a dangerous vehicle is illegal.

While the majority of owners would never drive a dangerous vehicle until it is made safe, DVSA knows not everyone will behave responsibly. And, while it it is not the responsibility of the MOT testing station to try and physically stop the vehicle from being driven away, it is important that the owner be provided with clear advice that the vehicle does have dangerous defects.

This all applies whether the vehicle has a current MOT or not. A dangerous vehicle should never be driven on the road.

An early MOT will still be sensible
Some people have interpreted the changes to mean that a vehicle should not be brought in for an MOT early. This is not true.

DVSA will still encourage motorists to not leave their MOT until expiry, as leaving it late increases the risk of the vehicle being used without an MOT or being unroadworthy.

‘Minor’ defects and advisories
The other new category from 20 May is ‘minor’. This is where there is a defect on the vehicle – but it is not sufficiently serious for the vehicle to fail. Like the major and dangerous defects, they are also pre-defined.

As with the current MOT test, DVSA will still have advisories. These are very similar to minor defects but rather than a component already being defective, they indicate a component will become defective soon.

Recording defects
DVSA has also made changes to the online MOT testing service to try and make it simple for garages to record the new defect types after 20 May.

For most defect areas (for example tyre tread depth) the defect is considered as only one level of severity (major or dangerous). The tester will select that defect as present, and the MOT testing service will automatically include the level (major or dangerous) in the result.

However, for some defect areas (for example, hydraulic brake fluid leaks) there might be defects at more than one level, based on the severity of the defect. Where that is the case, the wording of the defect describes the difference between major or dangerous.

A garage should assess which set of words the defect on the vehicle best matches. Then, the MOT testing service will automatically include the level (major or dangerous) in the result.

Launching a training environment
DVSA will be launching a training environment (or prototype area) into the MOT testing service with the post 20 May changes in place and they will advise once it is available.

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