MOT services we’re working on: 9 January 2019

First of all, I’d like to thank all MOT testers and garages for taking on some big challenges last year. The changes to the MOT test in May and the updated MOT testing manual were the biggest.

We’ve got a lot planned for this year, so here’s an extra long edition of “MOT services we’re working on” telling you what we’ll be getting up to.

Risk ratings

As you’ll be aware, we recently changed how risk rating works. Chris Price explained this in some detail in his recent blog post. We made some substantial changes, including more focus on the work testers do.

There’s been a lot of good feedback and that’s really welcome. Changes like this take time to bed in and we’ll continue to develop risk ratings as time goes on.

Although the majority of garages are very professional, looking at the risk ratings has helped us target those that aren’t doing things properly. If, as a tester, you’re concerned you’re in the amber or red band, take a look at what might be putting you in this category. This can include things like time taken to carry out tests and the types of vehicles you’re testing.

Ratings can and do change. We recognise that this is a particular concern for temporary testers who need to provide information to employers. It would be a good thing if you could show potential employers what you’ve been doing to reduce risks, like appropriate training.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that making it easier for us to spot garages that aren’t doing things properly is a good thing. We'll continue to monitor the risk rating model and will adapt it following your comments on the blog.

Annual assessment – don’t leave it too late

One of the things we now look at as part of site reviews is a garage’s approach to staff training. This is one of the things that forms part of the overall risk score for a garage - especially their approach to organising testers’ annual training and assessment.

Experience from previous years has shown it’s sensible to do your training and assessment in plenty of time. This will leave you time to get any extra training done and to practice what you’ve learned.

You’ll then also have enough time to make sure you record the details of your training and assessment correctly. At your next site review, you’ll be able to show that you have an organised approach to carrying this out.

Progress so far on completing the MOT training and annual assessment is still low. Don’t leave it to the last minute!

Registering vehicles correctly

In previous blog posts we’ve mentioned that we’re looking to try and reduce the number of vehicles registered incorrectly during MOT. This means the result will be registered against the wrong vehicle, which is a problem.

While it might seem like a small thing, it defeats the object of all the hard work we do when results are entered for the wrong vehicle! It also means we spend a lot of time sorting it out, rather than doing useful things to improve the service.

Changing vehicle registration screens

In the next few months, we’ll be making some changes to the vehicle registration screens so the vehicle make, model and colour will be even clearer to help testers get the right match. We’re also getting nearer to allowing plug-in to the vehicle diagnostic port.  This will mean we’ll be able to get the vehicle VIN directly.

In the meantime, it would be great if you could all be extra vigilant when registering vehicles for test. Our research has also shown you need to take the vehicle registration mark and vehicle identification number from the vehicle. You should not get them from a job card or online look-up service.

This will make sure the MOT result is recorded against the right vehicle. Everyone makes mistakes but recording the information in this way will avoid the vast majority of these problems.

Emissions and MIL

The introduction of the MIL (malfunction indicator lamp) to the MOT test has caused confusion for some MOT testers. In several recent blog posts, we've been asked if it's reasonable to fail a vehicle for the MIL even though the tailpipe emission test was okay.

The answer is yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to fail a vehicle for having a lit MIL even if it passes the tailpipe emissions test. Here's why.

Emissions are controlled/measured by various sensors in the engine management system. If the system detects a fault or abnormal reading, then the engine MIL will illuminate. While the vehicle may pass the tailpipe test with the MIL on, emissions are not likely to be within limits during real world driving.

Coming soon…

We’ll soon be launching a new, improved messaging page into the MOT testing service. This will make it easier for testers to navigate and find the messages they need to read.

We’ll also be introducing a notifications system to tell testers about service outages and remind them about the annual assessment deadline.

We’ve been working with developers over the past few months to design and develop these features using feedback gathered from MOT testers at garage visits.

In the meantime, here’s a preview of how the new message screen is likely to look.

We’ll be in contact with testers soon to let them know when they should expect to see these new features. 


  1. Comment by pc posted on

    an engine mil on is a fail. tailpipe emissions in excess of requirements is a fail. simple.
    scanning for fault codes currently not part of the test.simple.
    some commentators are misunderstanding or ignoring the test procedure here.

    • Replies to pc>

      Comment by 2002 posted on

      We had a petrol cat car in to fix and it had failed on the NOX sensor not working and emissions not tested and the EMT mil was not on and a few other strange mot fail things which passed the emissions test with flying colours with out any thing being done.

    • Replies to pc>

      Comment by Craig Wilson posted on

      Think we all understand mil light on is a fail , but what some testers are saying is when they check the problem it's not emissions related

  2. Comment by brian posted on

    it seems that vosa are running the mot scheme like a business with set targets for pass/fail rates this is silly as you test as presented as per manual

  3. Comment by Tim posted on

    HI I have recently failed a hymer camper van for rear outline markers not fitted it was over the date and over the size . I explained this to owner she was not happy . She took it to some other garage they passed it ! with out question . She did come to see me at my garage with a tapped phone call from dvsa the lady told her the same as I did about date and size great .But then the owner had her say there van has never had them fitted. And new vans ether she had a picture on new van . Then it can from dvsa it can be passed with conformity cert from makers . This info she thinks I could pass advise … I don't think so

    • Replies to Tim>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      End-outline marker lamps are required on vehicles exceeding 2.1m in width (not including mirrors).

      This requirement applies in type approval legislation, Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) requirements and for any vehicle that manages to get registered without either of these approval routes. It is still required under the Road vehicles (Lighting) Regulations 1989.

      We have heard of a number of motorhome conversions where end outline markers have not been fitted or have not been wired up. This doesn’t make it legal so this should be attended to.

  4. Comment by Ed posted on

    Is it ok to have a test station for only testing your own sales cars and not take any public cars just refuse because you can say your testers are bissy with your own sales cars ?

    • Replies to Ed>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Ed

      Test stations cannot only test their own vehicles. They must offer an appointment to test any vehicle of a class within their authorisation at the earliest practicable date and time. The only thing they can consider is their existing MOT workload and customer requirements.

      I hope that answers your query.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Eddie posted on

        So a company cannot stone wall the customer should they want an mot like a company I used to work for that do no public test unless they have bought the car from them but only then will they test the car if it doesn’t have there minimum 6 months test remaining they don’t even test the car the following year for the customer that bought the car ??

        • Replies to Eddie>

          Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

          Hi Eddie

          If they can reasonably perform an MOT they should do the work depending on existing MOT workload and customer requirements. You can report a garage if you feel they are not acting correctly on 0300 123 9000 and an area team will investigate.

          Disciplinary information is in the guide under section D and Appendix 8.4.

  5. Comment by Derek posted on

    Since 20 May 2018, there are stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars summarised here.

    You must test vehicles to the manufacturer’s plate value (when present),
    You must also give a major fault if you:
    can see the smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
    find evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

    It now requires the use of the manufacturer’s plate value (when present) The manufacturer's plate means either the VIN plate or a separate plate or sticker, which is likely to be within the engine compartment. The plate or sticker may be marked 24 R followed by a number to indicate the smoke limit. It's usually displayed in a box and often positioned in the bottom right corner of the VIN plate.

    The above is information I have been instructed to use when testing vehicles and its all excellent information.

    My experience since May 2018 is that this labelling is always fitted by the manufacturer and is only not present if it has been removed post-manufacture or on left-hand drive vehicles.

    I have seen vehicles that have been cheating the emissions standards by various unscrupulous and unsafe methods for many years, and you have reported in the past how testing centres have received sanctions for assisting with this. I am now seeing vehicles that are trying to further cheat emission standards by the removal or damage or defacing of the emissions portion of the manufacturer's plate in an attempt to force the use of the higher pre-May 2018 standards which they are not entitled to use.

    As the labelling forms part of the original manufacturing of the vehicle I do feel by now we should be in a position to insist that vehicles are tested to the maximum manufacturer figures. This information is available, and to have a default that in many instances is many times higher than the manufactures maximum is surprising and obviously allows the necessary motivation to remove the manufactures plate in the hope of the tester reverting to the higher DVSA levels.

    My understanding from what I have read is as follows:-
    If a vehicle is operated with its exhaust emission exceeding the manufactures specifications (if this is lower than the DVSA default), then the vehicle is not operating in a roadworthy or legal condition.

    • Replies to Derek>

      Comment by castrolrob posted on

      unfortunately its not confined to owners trying to cheat the test,i have had many vehicles over the years with all sorts of stickers missing including the vin plate.the majority of these are generally due to accident repairs particularly when the bonnet/landing panel and/or b pillars are involved and in many cases the current owner is completely oblivious to the fact its been repaired at all let alone that theres anything missing.they aint all fraudsters....

  6. Comment by Stephen Ball posted on

    When we do the MOT refresher quiz as you call it, why can't we take a break every 15 to mins, my eyes are sensitive to computer lighting.

  7. Comment by Alan posted on

    Had a car in for test (I think it was a mercedes). There was no data for when the headlamp washers should work. It wasn't until I failed it and then later looked it up on internet that they should work on every 12 presses of the windscreen washers. It would have been nice to be told in the vehicle specific data how and when they are supposed to work.

  8. Comment by Martin posted on

    When you retract the test as presented statement perhaps your advice on emissions retests will carry some weight.
    The advice needs to be in a special notice.

  9. Comment by JAMES RAWLINGS posted on

    I have tested diagnostic fault in management and they have often been in other systems ie Auto gear box .
    this means I have to scan car and then do I fail it ????

  10. Comment by Scott posted on

    I think with the whole RAG system is to not worry or over complicate it. We had our site visit just before Christmas and ended up in the green. I have looked at this morning and we are now in the red. The reason being is just recently we have had an influx of poorly maintained vehicles which has put our fail rate way above the national average. This will however turn back to green eventually when the quality of vehicles average out.

  11. Comment by BR posted on

    Why will VEs not put their foot to the floor on diesel emission tests ? Are they not allowed to do so ? If one goes bang does it come out of their pocket same as it would come out of mine ? The rules say I must put my foot to the floor . Surely the person that set that rule is responsible for the cost of any damage caused by said rule . This does not just apply to DERV . There are a fair few petrol engined vehicles that boil up and go bang too under emissions testing conditions .

  12. Comment by Martin posted on

    With reference to a previous comment, I to found my rag score to be amber. We work in a very rural area and so test many older 4x4s and farm vehicles. Through no fault of my own my fail rate was higher than "average" for that month due to these vehicles. I wont change the way I test to change rag colour, but this could easily be abused by unscrupulous testers passing items that should have failed. How long before AEs can access testers rag scores and put the pressure on to be in green?

  13. Comment by Tony posted on

    Mil light on dose not constitute 100%that there is a fault within the engine management /emissions system most vehicle management systems are linked via can bus systems so a fault with say stearing angle sensor may bring mil light on. Not affecting the real world running /emissions of the vehicle. Needs to be looked into with more detail and soon before a member of the public takes this matter further

  14. Comment by joe digney posted on

    agree with steve should be brake recording little or no effort as it used to and not inop on one side
    also had problems with supermarket fuel failing emmissions only to advise customer to top up with better fuel and car passed

  15. Comment by Craig Wilson posted on

    I dont see how you can log on incorrectly by useing the reg + vin and checking the info on screen

    • Replies to Craig Wilson>

      Comment by richard posted on

      yeah I'm a bit mystified by this, how are testers getting this wrong ?

  16. Comment by Simon C posted on

    Using the OBD to read the VIN is a neat idea HOWEVER I can see problems. On older cars, a commonly accepted way of repairing ECU failure is to swap all the cars electronics (ECU/body computer/etc) and keys from an identical but scrapped vehicle. Being identical vehicles in spec, everything works as intended and is significantly more affordable to do than having a brand new ECU installed. On discontinued models especially, a brand new ECU may no longer be possible to acquire either - forcing a swap from spare parts.

    Thus if a vehicle has had its ECU swapped, come MOT time the vehicle tested will not match the VIN of the ECU. Absolutely nothing wrong with said vehicle, except the electronic VIN doesn't match the actual chassis and vehicles true VIN. No doubt causing a lot of headaches when vehicles tested for an MOT that has had an ECU swap.

    Of course there could be a human step of checking the reported VIN against the actual vehicle, but this will bring you square back to the original problem of human error creeping in. Especially when the majority of times it will match, so complacency steps in due to the busy nature of a modern Garage.

  17. Comment by John posted on

    Can somebody explain the following sentence from the article above? "This can include things like time taken to carry out tests and the types of vehicles you’re testing" I understand that the time taken to carry out a test when compared with the national average may have a effect on the rating but I wasn't aware that I had a choice of which vehicles I could test within my test category.

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi John

      This generally refers to the age of the vehicles but you will be testing whatever comes into your garage.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by jim posted on

        has a space saver at time of test been taken off the manual , as it was a pass and advise , bit miffed

        • Replies to jim>

          Comment by Tony S posted on

          I think you'll find that this covers it, DVSA could confirm

          Tyres on the same axle or on twin wheels are different sizes = Major

  18. Comment by steve posted on

    there is still wording issues on the MTS, any chance of sorting that out please . IE Park brake failure , the wording says inoperative but maybe its just not working enough so little or no effort would be better

    • Replies to steve>

      Comment by richard posted on

      yes definitely need this adding ,also a binding brake is only applicable to the service brake in the drop down box, it may well be the parking brake binding but there is no option to list that ?

      • Replies to richard>

        Comment by Martin posted on

        There is in most cases no way of telling if it is service or park brake binding.
        The RFR used to be "Brake binding" which was perfect as it did not differentiate between service or parking brake.
        Now it assumes it is the service brake binding which is another example of the wording in the manual being incorrect and forcing us to use an unsuitable RFR.
        The manual needs rewriting by someone with a good understanding of how a motor vehicle works and has good knowledge of the English language.

  19. Comment by elliot posted on

    mil light debate, on a vw polo the mil light was on due to insufficient gas in the a/c system

  20. Comment by Tom Edwards posted on

    It's illegal to drive without an mot but why is it not illegal to drive on roads not fit for purpose. Pot holes speed bumps. They wreck your car so get it right put the roads back together. The law says MOT is a must it should also be the same for roads.

  21. Comment by Gee han posted on

    Pre may 2018 mot test were better and fairer.

  22. Comment by Concerned Citizen posted on

    What if no MIL is lit but fail tail pipe test. As you said Emissions are controlled/measured by various sensors in the engine management system. If the system detects a fault or abnormal reading, then the engine MIL will illuminate. So in that case if there is no MIL lit, it should be considered passed according to the logic you have applied.

    • Replies to Concerned Citizen>

      Comment by Tony posted on

    • Replies to Concerned Citizen>

      Comment by Jon posted on

      The mil is a separate test item to the emissions result. The mil could be on for numerous reasons.

  23. Comment by Test pirate posted on

    Good to see changes and Clarification on certain things. But the system still needs major rethink !!!!!! More clarification about Alloy wheels and the repairs ??? Badly welded ??? Should any "cracked alloy" Be repaired ????

  24. Comment by Pete posted on

    Hi can you answer a question for me.
    When the system is down as it is at the moment 19:30 pm Jan 9th and seeming the manual and guide is exclusively on line how do we view them if we need to check something? Although it says from the system down/contingency screen that the manual and guide is still available it take you to the content screen but, when you click into a section it brings you back to the system down screen.

    Maybe you should think about adding a new refusal to test option or abort test option until this problem is solved. Luckly enough I'm just trying to do my annual training and not a test, as I can see this being a very big headache if I was and need to check something.
    Just another of the many oversights of the new system I guess?

  25. Comment by James posted on

    With regards to the MIL illumating a customer of mine filled his car from a national supermarkets local fuel station and and later that day his MIL came on and stayed on, after reading the ecu it gave a code of bank 1 lean mixture. To prove a point to the owner we drained the fuel tank and fuel system and refilled it with quality fuel from a high quality fuel retailers turned of the mil and sent him out to do his days work. That was a week ago and his mil has stayed off just proving that poor quality of fuel can effect car emissions.

  26. Comment by Stephen newman posted on

    Very good idea to have a local average

  27. Comment by Lee Heywood. posted on

    My Rag rating has been green red and amber. Average age of the car hasn’t changed and I test as presented and have not changed my applied standards.

    What is likely to be causing the discrepancy ?

  28. Comment by Bill posted on

    It would be helpful if the system could identify the areas of concern that have moved the tester into the red or amber risk rating sector so that the tester would have a chance rectify it.

  29. Comment by JIM ANDERSON posted on

    What's going on? I have just noticed that I have jumped from green to red overnight with no explanation. I can only assume that it is because my failure rate is slightly higher than the national average, even though it always has been. We test vehicles first, and service them last, which will always give us a higher fail rate than garages who do it the other way round. We are also in a rural area, with a lot of rough roads. This system will have the effect of making testers hope that a vehicle is going to pass or fail before the test even starts, which just isn't right.

    • Replies to JIM ANDERSON>

      Comment by dave bs posted on

      this has also happened to me with no explanation

  30. Comment by Mike posted on

    Chris i have read that the dvsa will take into consideration the location of rural mot stations, we have an above average fail rate on springs

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Mark Pendlebury posted on

      Not many insanely ridiculous speed bumps in rural areas

  31. Comment by Philip Hook posted on

    I find I am rated as amber in my personal file as a tester, not to happy about this, quite a few of my averages do not match national averages, I can only test what comes into workshop, I will not adjust to fall in line with Mr Average. Also your comment about looking at time taken to do test can affect your RAG score, since when did time come into a test ?, it takes as long as it takes & to the best of my knowledge there never has been a set time.

  32. Comment by Steve Neill posted on

    From what we have learned in the news, very few vehicles would pass emissions limits in real world driving conditions, especially those that are regularly used for school runs.

    Many vehicles fail the basic emissions test, but go on to pass the vehicle specific test, some by the skin of their teeth, yet the warning light is not lit, and many fail the emissions test outright also with the warning light not lit, as has always been the case.

  33. Comment by raza datoo posted on

    nice to see improvements taking place

    • Replies to raza datoo>

      Comment by 999gb posted on

      how do some people get their comments on straight away I thought they all have to be looked at for 3 days before they got on(if at all)Lets see when and if this gets on!

      • Replies to 999gb>

        Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

        Comments are posted and replied to on a regular basis. Some replies may take longer where specific questions are asked and need a more technical answer.

        • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

          Comment by James Robertson posted on

          I saw that someone had already asked for an explanation of the comment that a tester's rating can be affected by the type of vehicle - and the answer was that this related to the age of the vehicle. This question and answer now seem to have disappeared, but, withe respect, it didn't make sense to me anyway. A tester has no control over the type r age of the vehicles which are presented to testing - so how can a tester's rating possibly be affected by these factors?

  34. Comment by Chris posted on

    The roads where test are terrible. They are either full of speed bumps or potholes and sometimes both. A good majority of these cars fail on either a broken coil spring, shock absorber, ball joint or suspension arm bushes. How can I get my average up when at least 50-60% are defective? Could you add in a local average to the system too?


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