How have the New MOT Rules Affected the Motor Trade Business?

New MOT rules were introduced in May 2018 to improve vehicle technology and maintenance across Europe. However, there is still confusion among drivers and garages alike. With potentially higher costs and more rigorous assessments, are you confident your team of mechanics have all the facts?

Back in May 2018, the UK implemented a set of new rules for the MOT. Theoretically, mechanics should be up and running by now with a clear understanding of the changes. But in reality, we’re still seeing confusion from vehicle owners and motor trade businesses alike.

The changes, introduced as a result of EU roadworthiness directives to improve vehicle technology and maintenance across Europe, aim to reduce road-related fatalities by 2050 and improve emission control systems to save the environment from further damage.

While the intention is good, new defect categories and stricter rules for diesel car emissions are presenting higher costs for drivers to keep their vehicles on the road. Simultaneously, some garages are finding it tricky to effectively categorise vehicle faults and overall roadworthiness under this new criteria.

So let’s delve into the updates and look at how the new MOT rules are playing out for motor traders in the UK.

What’s the big deal?

Cars over three-years-old must legally undergo an MOT to check for overall roadworthiness.

MOT stress isn’t a new thing. In the UK, drivers are well acquainted with the yearly assessment required to keep their vehicles roadworthy. With a trip to an approved test centre, (almost) all vehicles over three-years-old must legally undergo this test to check that they are road-safe. Failure to do so will usually invalidate the owner’s car insurance, so it’s an important annual date for car owners to remember.

Recent changes, however, have introduced a new wave of stricter criteria for vehicles that many people are struggling to comprehend and even more are completely unaware of. Data from RAC shows that over 50 per cent of people surveyed didn’t even know about these changes when they were first introduced.

For drivers, the changes mean potentially higher repair and replacement costs to keep their vehicles up to standard. And for test centres, garages and motor traders who deal with large volumes of vehicles, they mean learning and applying a whole new set of rules to keep their businesses on the right side of the law.

Before we go any further, here’s a quick overview of some of the key changes that have been brought into place.

New defect categories

Individual items are categorised according to their safety to evaluate road-worthiness.

The biggest change to the MOT has been with defect categories. The test now requires motor traders to test specific parts of a vehicle and evaluate them more rigorously.

  • Pass – meets the minimum legal standard.
  • Advisory – could become more serious in the future.
  • Minor – no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or the impact on the environment, but repair is recommended as soon as possible.
  • Major – item should be repaired immediately. It may affect the vehicle’s safety or put other road users at risk or impact the environment.
  • Dangerous – it is prohibited to drive the vehicle until this item is repaired due to theimmediate risk to road safety or impact on the environment.

If a car is classed as having a dangerous defect the owner will be unable to drive it away from the garage and repairs will need to be done onsite.

New items tested

Some pretty major changes have arrived in terms of how MOT professionals need to categorise faults. In addition, there are some new elements to look at in the test itself. These include:

  • Checking whether or not the tyres are obviously underinflated.
  • Looking at the reversing lights to ensure they are all functional.
  • Testing the headlight washers on relevant vehicles.
  • Assessing if brake fluid has been contaminated.
  • Judging whether or not any fluid has leaked and if it might pose an environmental risk.

Stricter rules for diesel emissions

We have seen stricter rules applied to diesel cars across the board when it comes to the motor industry, including a rise in taxes for certain models. The new MOT rules are no exception; we’re seeing diesel hit hard here too.

Any car fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that projects visible smoke during testing will receive a major fault resulting in an automatic MOT fail. Unlike the previous MOT, which involved a visible inspection of the DPF filter, the new rules require that the particular vehicle component must be removed and examined for the new assessment to be valid. The test will also fail if the DPF has been tampered with in any way.

To learn more about the new MOT changes or get a quote from ChoiceQuote for your motor trade insurance, get in touch today.

Changes to exempt vehicles

Prior to the new rules, only vehicles manufactured before 1960 were exempt from requiring an MOT. However, the changes in May have meant that the majority of vehicles are exempt from requiring an MOT after their 40th birthday.

There are some exceptions still to this; namely if there have been any major adaptations made to the car within the last 30 years, it might still require its annual MOT.

Impact on motor traders

Motor traders and garages have an obligation to inform their customers about new MOT changes.

The big impact on motor traders and garages has of course been the need for MOT centres to very quickly educate both themselves and their team on the changes. With new exemptions, new categories and new items to be tested, there’s been a lot for mechanics to get their head around.

Not only do motor traders and garages need to understand the changes themselves, they also have an obligation to inform their customers about new MOT changes. The new fault categories for instance should be explained to motorists as well as staff in your motor trade business so that everyone is clear about what is and isn’t roadworthy.

Responses to the changes have been varied, with some welcoming the changes and believing that the updated test requirements will lead to safer roads and better business, while others have questioned whether or not the MOT even does its job. The Adam Smith Institute, a think tank, has argued that the MOT is outdated and doesn’t succeed in targeting the main cause of vehicle accidents.

Head of research at the institute, Sam Dumitriu, commented: “MOTs are meant to prevent crashes and save lives, but they’ve never been put to the test themselves.

“New evidence from the US found that scrapping similar mandatory vehicle safety inspections had no impact on crash rates. Evidence, not gut feeling, should drive policy.”

The institute noted that the MOT generates some £250 million in annual revenue for more than 20,000 garages across Britain making it big business for a lot of people. If you’re among those people offering MOTs, make sure you are up-to-date with the changes to the MOT that came into force in 2018 to avoid any potential penalties or liability from handling vehicles deemed dangerous or high risk.

Motor trade insurance

If you handle vehicle sales and servicing, motor mechanics or breakdown services, you may be impacted by the recent changes to the MOT.

If you handle vehicle sales and servicing, motor mechanics or breakdown services you may be impacted by the recent changes to MOTs.

If you’re looking for effective motor trade insurance, why not take this opportunity to gen up on recent government regulation surrounding vehicle safety? Keeping up to date and making sure your team are aware of their responsibilities will help reduce the risks your business could face when performing MOTs.

Whether you’re operating as a full-time or part-time trader, service centre, MOT garage or repair shop, get in touch with ChoiceQuote for a quote on effective motor trade insurance to keep your business moving forward – even in times of change.

To find out more about MOT requirements or road risk only insurance, contact ChoiceQuote today on 01625 885 046 or get a quote online.