Getting an MOT is a relatively untouched part of owning a car for the motorist, with most just sending it to the garage and then hoping it passes! So, it comes as no surprise that people are uncertain about the new MOT and what it means for their vehicle. A new survey released by the RAC shows a shocking 49% of people don’t know what the new categories mean.

Simply put, the new MOT creates a new categorisation system for defects, with dangerous, major and minor determining the defect, and advisory and pass not affecting any defects. The new MOT also tests a few more car issues such as underinflated tyres, reversing lights and daytime running lights on new cars. The government has provided a full breakdown here.

RAC survey

The RAC took a survey of 1,866 motorists and found that almost half of them were confused by the new ‘minor’ fault category and thought it still leads to a fail, which isn’t the case. In fact, this new category is a ‘pass with defects’ which should be made clearer as soon as possible.

Further confusion was shown in the ‘dangerous’ and ‘major’ fault categories. 5% of the survey thought a car would pass with a ‘dangerous’ fault and 6% thought their car would pass with a ‘major’ fault listed. In both cases, the cars would fail under the new defect grading system. A ‘dangerous’ fail stipulates that it cannot be driven until the fault is fixed.

Minor problems

Three-quarters of the survey thought that the new ‘minor’ category, which has been created in addition to the existing advisory notice system, would mean people ignore these problems. 13% believed that the minor fault would lead to an advisory notice – resulting in a fail. But advisory warnings do not mean the vehicle will fail.

Opinions about the changes were divided. 44% said the changes were reasonable while 56% were against them. The advertising for the new test system seems to have had mixed results as only half of those surveyed said they knew when the new changes would start although further exploration showed that nearly two-thirds were not aware of the date.

More likely to fail

The RAC asked if drivers thought there was a danger that the new categories could be open to interpretation between different test centres and three-quarters believed that it would. 59% of those spoken to think the new test system would lead to more fails with only ten percent thinking there would be more passes – 15% thought the rate would remain unchanged.

It highlights something the RAC have also said they are concerned about – interpretation differences. While the motoring organisation is behind the new test system, they are worried that there could be differences between one garage and another as to how a fault is categorised, and therefore whether a car would pass or not.

The diesel problem

Another big issue with the new test, once again, highlights the emphasis on diesel and the emissions from these cars. The diesel particulate filter (DPF) is the device that captures and stores particulates from the exhaust system. Under the new test, if there is any coloured smoke coming from the exhaust or any sign the DPF has been tampered with, the car will receive a major fail. However, taking the diesel for a good run down a motorway or dual carriageway will help to clean out the DPF.

Half of the RAC survey group either own or run a diesel car and 53% of them knew there was a DPF on the vehicle. But another third weren’t sure if theirs had one or not. And if there is a problem with the DPF, it can be a nasty one – new ones can cost around £1,000, which would be a surprise for the half of drivers who estimated the cost between £250 – £500.

Classic car worries

Another interesting development with the new test system is that vehicles over 40 years old will no longer require an MOT. While this might be a relief for drivers of certain classic cars, some experts are concerned that this could lead to a rise in accidents involving them.

The new rules would mean there would be some 300,000 vehicles on the UK roads that no longer need to be checked. These include classic ‘old bangers’ such as the Ford Cortina and Austin Allegro from the 1970’s.
The government said the change was due to these vehicles being ‘maintained in good condition’ and used on short trips only occasionally. But a survey of classic car owners found more than 55% were against the new rules. Older vehicles, they say, are made to lower design standards and are more prone to corrosion. Plus, not all owners keep their cars in excellent condition.

Understanding the changes

The RAC has recommended that everyone gets to know the new changes as quickly as possible. RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said that test centres and garages need to do a perfect job of explaining the differences, so motorists understand what they need to do with the different results from their MOT. They believe the tests are a positive thing but want to be sure that garages are consistently interpreting the new rules in the same way.

Did you know about the new rules? Do you understand what the new categories mean? Let us know in the comments below.

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