The MOT test has got tougher than ever – especially for diesel cars – as the UK comes in line with a European Union directive called the EU Roadworthiness package.

If you drive a diesel car, pay close attention - the biggest changes to the MOT test since it was first introduced in 1960 sees stringent new checks on cars fitted with diesel particulate filters (DPF).

As of 20 May 2018, as a result of stricter emissions controls, any diesel car fitted with a DPF – which means every new diesel from 2009 – that is seen to be emitting “visible smoke of any colour” will fail the test. Testers will also be checking if the DPF on your car has been removed or tampered with. Unless there is a “legitimate” explanation for this, testers are required to refuse to test the car.

Faults, steering and classic motors

Other changes include the introduction of a new classification for faults as either Minor, Major or Dangerous. A Minor fault will be something that isn’t serious enough to make the car fail the test, but which will need to be repaired. A Major fault will need to be repaired before the car can be retested. It will be illegal to drive any car with a Dangerous fault on public roads.

Steering systems will also be checked as part of the new test, and any with a large-scale leak will fail.

However, the new test is good news for drivers of classic cars - any car over 40 years old will no longer need an MOT test.

Gareth Llewellyn, chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), explained: "The MOT test checks that important parts of your vehicle meet the legal roadworthiness standards. These changes to the MOT test will help make sure vehicles are safer and cleaner.”

Andy Watson, chief executive of Ageas Insurance UK, said: “We recommend that drivers take the steps they need to get their cars MOT-ready before they take the new test.”

Why might your car fail the new MOT?

  • If your diesel car is emitting smoke
  • If your DPF is missing or has been tampered with
  • If your tyres are obviously underinflated
  • If your brake fluid is contaminated
  • If leaking fluid poses an environmental risk
  • If your brake pad warning lights are on, or if any brake pads or discs are missing
  • If your reversing lights do not work (for vehicles first used from 1 September 2009)
  • If your headlight washers do not work (for vehicles first used from 1 September 2009)

If you don’t know when your next MOT test is due, you can find out here

See our tips on how to prepare your car for MOT success, or go to our Your Car hub on Solved to read more guidance on some of the issues that matter to drivers.