New MOT Test Items From 1st January 2012

MOT testing station logoThe MOT test is changing in 2012, thanks to our old friend EU harmonization.

In this case, the main thrust of the changes appears to be twofold:

  • More thorough testing of the complex electronic safety-related systems fitted to modern cars
  • More emphasis on ensuring that cars remain in original specification as they age – especially regarding emissions

I’ve summarised the changes below, but I think it is fair to say that the net result will that car owners have to make expensive repairs to older cars to fix problems they might simply have lived with before. Looked at a different way, however, older cars may stay safer and pollute less than they do at present…

MOT Test Changes From 1st January 2012

  • The following Dashboard warning lights must work correctly: power steering warning, brake fluid level warning, headlight main beam, air bag warning, seat belt pre-tensioner warning and tyre pressure monitoring system warning
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems will now be tested where fitted
  • Electronic parking brakes are now tested – these are fitted instead of traditional handbrakes on an increasing number of new cars
  • Steering lock is now tested where fitted & power steering fluid level must be above minimum
  • Headlight testing will be updated to test HID lights more thoroughly, including aftermarket fitments, which are often faulty or incorrectly levelled.
  • Caravan/trailer electrical sockets and towbars will be checked and tested
  • If your car was originally fitted with a catalytic converter (cat), then it must still have one and will fail if it is missing – even if it passes the emissions test.
  • Speedometer – must be undamaged, working and illuminated when the headlights are on.
  • Seats – forward and backward adjustment of the driver’s seat will be tested. Electric seat motors must work (driver’s seat only, I think).
  • Rear doors that cannot be opened from the outside will result in failure.
  • Airbags – any airbag fitted as part of the cars original (OEM) specification must be present and working.
  • Battery and wiring – a leaking or insecure battery will fail, as will damaged or loose wiring.
  • Fuel pipes that are damaged or chafed will fail (even without leaks).
  • Tyre pressure monitoring systems fitted to vehicles first registered after 01/01/2012 will be tested.

This is not an exhaustive list of the formal changes to the test – it is intended as an informative guide to give you an idea of what to expect. For definitive information, contact VOSA or your local MOT test centre.

Three Month Grace Period Until 1st April 2012

Although the new rules came into force on 1st January 2012, there is going to be a three-month grace period during which any failure items under the new rules will be treated as advisories – so a MOT certificate will still be issued.

If you think your car will fail under the new rules and might require expensive repairs, it could be worth having it tested before 1st April 2012 so that you have another year before it needs testing under the new rules. Remember: you can test a car at any time – the MOT does not need to be due for renewal.

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