MOT Changes in May 2018—Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re a learner or an experienced driver with several years under your belt, you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the MOT test. An annual test of vehicle safety, the MOT test was first introduced in 1960. The test has been updated and expanded upon since its inception, all in the name of keeping road users safe and ensuring all vehicles are roadworthy. It has stayed more or less the same in recent years. This is set to change, however. The MOT test will change in May 2018, affecting road users across England, Scotland and Wales.

The MOT changes will take place on May 20th, changing the way in which faults are categorised, bringing in stricter rules for diesel car emissions, and much more. Find out exactly what these changes will entail below…

MOT Changes

① Changes to Defect Categories

The MOT changes are bringing about a change in the way defects are categorised. Currently, the MOT test is structured with a pass or fail approach. With these changes, defects will now be categorised as dangerous, major or minor. The categorisation used by the MOT test will, of course, depend on what type of problem is found and how serious it is. After your vehicle has been looked at, the MOT tester will give you some advice, telling you which items you need to keep an eye out for. These are otherwise known as “advisories”.

Item Result What it Means MOT Result
Dangerous An immediate risk to road safety and road users—or, will have a serious impact on the environment.

Do not drive the vehicle until it has been properly repaired. 

Major It could affect the vehicle’s safety, put road users at risk or have an impact on the environment.

Repair the vehicle immediately. 

Minor No significant effect on the vehicle’s safety, put road users at risk or have an impact on the environment.

Repair as soon as possible.

Advisory It may become more serious in the future.

Monitor and repair if necessary. 

Pass It meets the minimum legal standards.

Ensure it continues to meet the standard. 


Drivers should be aware that if their car does receive a fail due to a dangerous fault, they run the risk of being fined £2,500—as well as receiving six penalty points—if they drive away from the testing centre. This rule applies even if your car’s MOT has a few days to run. So, what do you need to do if you receive a fail? Failures will have to be repaired at the MOT test centre, or your vehicle will need to be towed to another garage.

② Stricter Rules for Diesel Cars

Image of a car's exhaust fumes

MOT changes will also bring about stricter rules for the emissions from diesel cars—more specifically,  those with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). Not sure what a DPF is? It captures and stores the exhaust soot to reduce the emissions from diesel cars. If you’re not sure whether your car has a DPF or not, you should check your car’s handbook.

The MOT tester will give your vehicle a major fault if they:

  • Can see smoke—of any colour—coming from your exhaust
  • Finds any evidence of tampering with the DPF

This could prove very costly for diesel drivers. The repair of DPFs—or the cost of replacing them entirely—could be worth more than the vehicle’s overall value. If you’re found guilty of removing your DPF to improve your vehicle’s performance, you could be fined £1,000 or more. Interestingly, older vehicles that were built before the introduction of DPFs—often more polluting to the environment—won’t see any changes. In fact, their emissions will be tested as they are now.

It’s predicted that this particular change will force thousands of diesel cars off the road for not meeting the correct standards.

③ Inclusion of New Items in the MOT

Image of a car's engine

The MOT test is already a detailed affair, including tyre checks, emission tests and checks of battery and wiring, ESC, speedometers and much more. The MOT changes in May, however, will include even more items.

MOT testers will now also check:

  • Whether tyres are underinflated
  • If brake fluid is contaminated
  • For fluid leaks that pose an environmental risk
  • Brake pad warning lights
  • Whether brake pads or discs are missing
  • The reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • The daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021, when they’re 3 years old)

These are the main new items. If you’d like to know what else your vehicle will be tested on, ask your local MOT centre.

④ Changes in the MOT Certificate

The current MOT test certificate will also undergo changes this May. This new style of certificate will list the new types of defect categorisations. This list—under the new categories brought about by the MOT changes—will make it clear to vehicle owners whether their vehicle has passed or failed. It will also record any faults received by the vehicle.

The online service you can use to check the MOT history of your vehicle will also be updated to reflect these changes to the MOT certificate.

The Old MOT certificate and the new MOT certificate
Image source: gov.uk

 Some Vehicles over 40 Won’t Need an MOT

Clock hands zoomed in

If you have a car, van, motorcycle or another light passenger vehicle that’s over 40 years old, it might not need to have an MOT—at least, if it hasn’t been substantially changed.

Right now, vehicles first built before 1960 are exempt from MOT tests. With the MOT changes on 20 May 2018, however, vehicles won’t need an MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were first registered. For example, if you first registered your vehicle on 31 May 1978, it won’t need an MOT from 31 May 2018.

Despite what you might think, you don’t even need to apply to stop getting an MOT test for your vehicle. You will, however, be expected to declare that your vehicle meets the rules for not needing an MOT each time you tax your historic vehicle. Before you start getting lax with looking after your vehicle, though, you should be aware that you’re still expected to keep it roadworthy. In fact, you could face a £2,500 fine and three penalty points for using a vehicle in dangerous condition.

Not sure when your vehicle was registered? Check the date your vehicle was registered online.

Final Thoughts…

The new MOT changes could potentially be very confusing for many drivers. With so many factors to keep track of, this isn’t too surprising. The best thing, then, is to get to grips with the MOT changes and what the test now entails. The last thing you want is to be fined £1,000 or more because you didn’t realise it was against the law to drive your car after receiving a dangerous fault.

These changes might also be confusing for MOT testing centres. Current MOTs are black and white with their pass or fail structure; the new categories, however, allow test centres to decide whether a vehicle is fit to pass or not depending on the defects.  One centre might view one item as “minor” another might view it as “major”. This could then lead to inconsistencies between garages. Only time will tell what’s in store for road users with this new MOT test.

Ready to get out there and experience the road for yourself? Have a look at our favourite driving test pass photos from May and be inspired!

Want to stay updated on everything driving related? Keep an eye on the PassMeFast blog for the latest driving news, driving tips and more!

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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