For those vehicles that are now MOT exempt it is now up to the owners to decide whether their vehicle is roadworthy!

The traditional MOT for cars on UK roads is changing dramatically on the 20th May 2018 and, if drivers and owners are not fully aware of the implications, they can easily run the risk of being caught out, says leading International solicitors Healys LLP

Clive Robertson the leader of the firm's classic car group said: "Motorists whose vehicles require an MOT need to take a long hard look at the regulations otherwise they could not only find themselves falling foul of the law and it could cost them a considerable amount in fines and even collect points on their licences."

Clive added: "There are major changes that motorists need to pay attention to and they fall into five main categories

  • How defects are categorised.
  • Diesel cars face stricter emission testing.
  • The design of the MOT certificate is changing.
  • Some vehicles over 40 years old will become exempt from testing.
  • A whole raft of new checks are introduced.

"All of these categories need to be studied but motorists need to be aware that there are a whole new raft of checks that are being introduced. These include, but are not limited to:-

  • For a diesel - any smoke from the exhaust is now a failure. Any evidence of damage or tampering with the Diesel Particulate Filter, is a failure.
  • For all vehicles new test checks will now include:
  • If tyres are obviously underinflated - failure.
  • If the brake fluid has been contaminated - failure.
  • For fluid leaks posing an environmental risk - failure.
  • Brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing - failure.
  • Reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 - failure
  • Headlight washers on vehicles used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them) - failure.
  • Daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 - failure. (These cars will only face their first MOT in 2021 but the regulations are in force from 20th May)

Failing to comply with these and the rest of the changes could mean fines and points on your driving licence.

Clive added: "That the MOT has evolved to recognise new technology and better manufacturing practices is a good thing. However, some of the changes can be seen as potential pitfalls for the uninitiated. For instance if the vehicle's tyres are "obviously underinflated" - that could be 2 or 3 pounds per square inch under, if that is what the tester decides, and is, in our view, utterly subjective.

"There is also now a rule regarding fluid leaks that pose an environmental risk. This change is potentially open to variance from test station to test station. A car that spends all of its life in a city is no risk with a weeping radiator, but it would pose one in the depths of the Yorkshire Dales."

Clive Robertson said that the clear message is that to keep within the letter of these new regulations, owners will have to take a more involved interest in the maintenance of their vehicles, and accept the potential rise in servicing costs.

There also seems to be much confusion about "old cars" and MOT exemption and Clive gives an example from a Huddersfield MOT tester that perhaps illustrates what many people view is the new status from 20th May 2019: -

"As a garage owner and MOT tester I think this is a ridiculous change in the rules For example. A farmer has a 40 plus year old diesel Land Rover in a barn, which has failed MOT tests over the years. After the 20th May this year thinks he can now fuel it up run it and as long as insured can use it on the roads. Good chance he knows the chassis is rotten and the engine's belching out black smoke, and thus would fail an MOT - BUT he now thinks he does not need to have one so all is fine!"

Clive Robertson said: "THIS IS NOT TRUE! The Land Rover is no more road legal after May 20th than it was before. If a vehicle would not pass an MOT, it is not road legal. That it does not need to have one simply means the owner/driver must ensure it is still up to the legal level required. This is the crux of the changes in the status of historic vehicles under the new MOT Test Rules.

Clive added: "The onus, which was always on the owner/driver, is as firmly with them under the new rules as ever it was before. The concept of complete wrecks on the road is, however, a real fear, because people do not understand what the 40 year exemption really means - where it USED to be the MOT tester who decided if a vehicle met the construction and use regulations and the demands of the road traffic act it is, from May 20th, now entirely the owner's responsibility to decide if their vehicle IS roadworthy. There is no "requirement" to present the vehicle for test. Quite a shift in the burden..."

Clive sums up the "best practice" recommendation from Healys Classic Car Group:-

"The simplest way to keep safe and legal has to be to keep getting your now exempt car MOT tested. Surely that is a small price to pay for peace of mind? Especially when weighed against the potential penalties?" |