June 15, 2018

Changes To MOT Ratings Could Cause Confusion

MOT Ratings Change

Changes to MOT ratings could cause confusion and may require increased communication between company car and van owners and drivers to avoid misunderstandings

The new rules, which came into force on May 20, mean that instead of vehicles being given a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ rating at their MOT, any defects will now be categorised as ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’ with the first two of these resulting in a test failure.

How has the MOT rating changed?

The new designations apply to all cars of more than three years old and increase the number of MOT ratings to five: dangerous, major, minor, advisory and pass.

A ‘dangerous’ rating means a direct and immediate risk to road safety or one that has a serious impact on the environment. The regulatory body, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), warns that the vehicle should not be driven in this condition until it is repaired.

vehicle maintenance


‘Major’ is described as a defect that may affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment. The DVSA advises that, in this case, the defect should be repaired immediately.

Both categories are reported as ‘fails’ and any vehicle should not be driven if it is rated as having defects that are either dangerous or major.

They may be penalties involved if a vehicle is driven after receiving a ‘dangerous ‘ or a major’ rating. Fleet operators and drivers need to be aware that, under the Road Traffic Act 1988, vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition. Failing to comply means a maximum £2,500 fine and three penalty points on their driving licence.

Arguably, driving any vehicle with a dangerous or major rating from its MOT test could be construed as driving a vehicle in an un-roadworthy condition and could be liable to prosecution.

What is CLM’s advice?

CLM’s advice in this instance is to always repair the defect for a dangerous or major rating immediately or as soon as practicable.

This may mean that the vehicle cannot be driven any further on, but in the case of one of our drivers, CLM would always ensure that he or she was not left without a vehicle for an onward journey.

This may involve an intervention such as recovering the vehicle to an approved service garage and providing a short term hire car, for example.

What are the other new categories?

The next new category is ‘minor’ and this is classified as having no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment. The DVSA advises that it should be repaired as soon as possible, although a car with a ‘minor’ defect will pass the test.

In this case, CLM would look to monitor the defect and correct it at the next available opportunity.

The fourth category is ‘advisory’ which is described as meaning that the defect may become more serious in the future. The DVSA advice is to monitor it and repair it ‘if necessary’. Again the car will pass.

This might refer to a situation, for example, where tyres are down to 3mm of tread but still well within the legal limit of 1.6m. If the car was about to be returned to, say, the supplying leasing company, it may be the case that the tyres would not be changed.

If, however, the car still had a considerable amount of its contract still to run, then the tyres’ condition would be monitored and they would be changed as the earliest opportunity.

The final category is ‘pass’ and means the vehicle meets the minimum legal requirement, with the DVSA advice to ‘make sure it continues to meet the standard’.

New faults under the MOT

There are a number of MOT rule changes which fleet operators need to be aware of that also come within the new ratings. These include:

  • Stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A vehicle will get a ‘major’ fault and result in an MOT failure if the tester can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust or finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.
  • A dashboard warning light defect will result in a ‘major’ defect being flagged up and thus an MOT failure
  • Some changes to braking definitions regarding classification of brake discs
  • Front and rear vehicle fog lights, daylight running lights and reversing lights are now included within the new MOT and can result in the vehicle failing the test if they are not working.

What to do next?

Communication is critical to comply with both the MOT and Road Traffic Act rules as well as individual fleet policies.

CLM will make fleet operators and drivers immediately aware of any defects that occur as a result of the MOT whether ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’ and will make the decision on authorisation of any such repairs, especially for those in the first two categories.

It  also is worth noting that all ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ and ‘minor’ faults, along with any MOT tester additional advisories will be published immediately following the completion of the MOT test on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website.