What you need to know about the new roadworthiness directive

You may have heard us mention this a few times over the last few years but we’re now getting near to implementing the roadworthiness directive. This follows recent Department for Transport (DfT) consultations.

Most of the changes from this directive will need to happen in May next year, but for now, we’ll provide you with an overview of what we expect to change. We’ll focus on the detail over the next few months

What this means

The directive is a very broad set of rules that covers everything to do with the on road condition of vehicles. It won’t mean huge changes for us, but there’ll still be changes in the world of MOT, including some positive steps to tighten-up the rules on emissions.

One of the changes related to the directive is how ‘historic vehicles’ are dealt with, which is something DfT consulted on.

As a result of this consultation, the government has decided that there’ll now be a ‘rolling 40 year old’ exemption from MOT, instead of the current fixed pre-1960 rule. However, this will only apply for those vehicles that haven’t been modified.

Changes to the MOT test

The directive will change how we categorise defects. From 20 May 2018, they’ll be categorised as either ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’, to help focus drivers on what’s more important.

Whilst this will help us explain to them how to look after their vehicles better, we’ll need to be careful not to make things complex for us all.

Dangerous and major defects

‘Dangerous’ and ‘major’ defects will cause the MOT to be failed. We’re still working on how we’ll make this look for drivers, but we want to make sure that the dangerous defects stand out on the documentation. This is to make it clear to them that they shouldn’t drive the vehicle away in that condition.

Minor defects

Where ‘minor’ defects are identified, these can be considered along the same lines as advisories are today.

We’re still doing some research on how these sit alongside some of things we currently issue advisories for, and how best to display this information to drivers.

When things are clearer, we’ll blog about this again. Some of you will see us as we’re out and about doing our research, so please feel free to ask us about it!


We’re considering ways of allowing observations to be noted that aren’t aimed at the car driver.

An example of this might be if there was something like an undertray fitted that was stopping a tester from getting to parts that they would otherwise inspect.

This could be useful information to have noted for an MOT appeal, but it wouldn’t appear on the notes given to the car drivers, because it’s not information aimed at them.

It would be good to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave your comments at the end of this blog post.

The other area on advisories that we’re considering changing, is whether we move away from manual advisories - if all the ‘test related’ and other standard ones are available and easy to find. This may be a contentious change for some, so we’ll set out our thoughts in more detail in a follow-up blog post to make sure we get your feedback.

Emissions Testing

There will also be some changes to the emissions test that will lower the limits for diesel cars. This will mean some changes to diesel smoke meter settings or software. We’re currently working with the garage equipment manufacturers to enable them to get ready to do this work.

We’ll update you on what needs changing later this month, to give you at least 6 months to schedule this work in.

The inspection manual

All of these changes will mean that the manual will change. We’ve already been getting feedback on an early version from our VTS Council members, and we’ll make sure this is captured in the revised version, ready to be published shortly.

Vehicle categories

The directive will require us to move to the standard EU vehicle categories, which will help to bring consistency, from vehicle approval through to on road use. However, we’ll keep to the MOT classes for garage authorisations, for now - so this shouldn’t change the way how we do testing too much.

Research with garages and customers

We’re determined that the directive, and the changes it will bring, should make it easier for us to accurately record MOT results and provide information that will help drivers to look after their vehicles.

This means that we’ll need to do a lot of research with garages and their customers, so expect to see us out and about.

In the meantime, we’d appreciate your feedback, below in the comments section, so we can plan the way ahead.


  1. Comment by Hooters posted on

    Regarding the thinking of DVSA and their potentially doing away with ‘manual advisories’ I get the impression that there is something that is prompting this that they are not telling us. If they were to tell us their ‘brief’ then maybe we (as the ‘testing trade’) could respond in a more helpful way.
    Change should only happen if it is going to improve the scheme. Any defect that is vehicle-related should be brought to the attention of the owner and placed on-record, whether it is a testable item or not. To try and make things sound better than they truly are is at best, un-wise. Further, to expect the MoT tester/AE to expose himself to risk because he can’t specifically tailor his comments is grossly unfair and the implications of such short comings will reach beyond the MoT scheme. I do however think that any one that uses the test to try and sell work should be suspended from testing, but the material facts should always be allowed to speak for themselves.
    PLEASE do not remove the manual advisory facility. If you are not happy with the way it is being used (?) then educate us!

  2. Comment by paul bufton posted on

    we are going to have to take in account the published manufactures defect recalls may be subject to a fail if not repaired is the system going to flag this up so if dangerous bring to are attention

  3. Comment by Jason 23 years testing motor vehicles. posted on

    Ok, so what I understand from this is that, dangerous, major and minor items have NOTHING to do with the advisory issues, they are the tested items on an MOT.
    i.e. a car comes in for a test, everything is ok except for a sidelight, in the current test that will FAIL THE MOT, under their new proposal that would be listed as a minor defect so the car would then be issued with a PASS CERTIFICATE with a minor item.
    How many cars do you see with lights, even headlights not working, the driver knows about it but can’t be bothered to get it done due to the cost, most dealerships charge from £50 for a stupid side light.
    2 quick examples, I tested a car, sat inside and operated the wipers, I had to switch off the ignition as soon as the wiper arm popped up as there was no wire blade fitted. I asked the customer what had happened to it , he replied he took it off 5 weeks earlier to change it but never got round to fitting the new one. I asked what he does if it rains to which he replied “ I stop at the roadside until it stops raining “
    2, customer came in to book an MOT, told him if he got time I’d do it next, he replied not today as he had an advisory last year that he wanted to do first.
    Came back the following day with 2 new rear tyres fitted, previous MOT on the seat, advisory both rear tyres worn close to the limit 2.0 and 2.3mm. The car had since done 10000 miles ( mainly motorway driving. Lives in Leicester works on London) and both tyres where down to the cords when he changed them the day before.
    So how do you fix the vehicle owners attitude to car maintenance and road safety.
    Thank you for reading.

  4. Comment by basharat hussain posted on

    i'm all for manual advisories leave theme as they are.

  5. Comment by Mark posted on

    I’m in agreement with leaving the current system as it is, it works well, if it’s not broken don’t fix it, I think the MOT has become over complex with changes being made for no good reason most of the time. I realise that as cars become more complex, things in the mot test need to be changed, but the fundamental way a car is mot’d hasn’t changed over the years, ie brakes, suspension, tyres, lights etc, all the extras being mafadded don’t make a car unroadworthy, the mot should concentrate on key elements of the car as in the past.

  6. Comment by Robert Harrison posted on

    leave the manual advisories as there are lots of items not listed and everybody has different opinions . i also think historical vehicles should still have a test as there are still some unroad worthy cars on the road

  7. Comment by MATT posted on


    • Replies to MATT>

      Comment by DARREN posted on

      totally agree on this issue an advisory is an advisory that's it,if it becomes a major then surely then it becomes a fail ,just leave things the way they are

  8. Comment by K posted on

    (I'm not a tester, just a member of the public)

    If DVSA accepted smoky car/van reports, this information could be fed into the MOT database so that testers could identify vehicle had a history of emitting smoke & can perhaps fail or even refer to DVSA/Police if they strongly suspect tampering of DPF or other emissions system.

    This, of course, assumes that the tester isn't dodgy, which is unfortunately common. A few of my petrolhead work colleagues know testers who just holds the smoke test tool away from the exhaust. Obviously they won't tell me which garage, as I'd report them 🙁

    • Replies to K>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi there

      Thanks for the feedback. We'll be doing some work looking at how we can capture better intelligence on fraud within the MOT system. So this could feed into that. We are also doing the work on looking at dealing further with DPF and similar tampering – so your ideas are useful, although, of course, some tampering techniques don't result in substantial visible smoke (but still results in harmful emissions).

  9. Comment by m biddle posted on

    keep the manual advisorie as it is a way to explane none major faults that are not listed.

  10. Comment by Steph Savill posted on

    I am anxious that we all work harder to get three key messages out to motorists here. 1/ That the MOT is but a safety snapshot on the day, not a bill of health for the year. 2/ That the MOT is no substitute for regular car servicing 3/ That the motorist is responsible for the state of their car. Number 3 is particularly relevant to many women who drive a car they expect their husband/partner to maintain for them when he doesn't necessarily know any better than she. I run a motoring club for women and am keen to improve awareness levels here.

    • Replies to Steph Savill>

      Comment by Hooters posted on

      Steph Savill........

      You are without doubt absolutely correct on those three points!
      As an experienced MoT tester and MIMI, I wholeheartedly agree.

  11. Comment by Steve posted on

    I think we will be doing a disservice to buyers of vehicle's if you do away with manual advisories for example if we couldn't record corrosion in non prescribed area's or previous repairs covered with underseal condition unknown

  12. Comment by Howard Sanderson posted on

    I own a car in Spain and they have been using the proposed new category of defect system there for years. It's interesting to compare the UK scheme to the Spanish one. For example, a blown rear light would be classed as a minor defect, but you are still given a 'pass' certificate for the car! Front fog lights are a testable item in Spain, but again if one is defective, it's noted as a minor defect, but you still pass the test. However, the testing of tyres is much stricter with a car failing for cracks, significantly uneven wear, etc. irrespective of whether its down to the cord.

  13. Comment by Dave posted on

    Advised items give anyone buying a vehicle at least some indication of how it has been maintained, if advisory items have been rectified it could be an indication that the previous owner was conscientious, it could also give a clue to under body condition for example corrosion to brake pipes and bodywork etc

  14. Comment by Mark posted on

    Think major minor is a waste of time and money fail and advise is straight forward and easy for people to understand be better making the pin cards more robust

  15. Comment by Steve posted on

    I can imagine a vehicle owner with a 40 year old car that isn't used very often and doesn't have parts easily available for the brakes going out on a nice Sunday to an old car rally with pads down to the metal and seized brake pistons,tyres worn down to below legal limits and wheel bearings grinding,he isn't a mechanic so has no idea about it's condition but it's ok to put his wife and kids in because it's road legal in his mind because it's mot exempt. No road vehicle should be exempt from a safety check. Does this mean at 40 years old the car stopped rotting out underneath?

    • Replies to Steve>

      Comment by Richard Strong posted on

      I would agree , Although a lot of people with older cars may look after them a lot do not. Yes all vehicle should be MOT'D once a year and maintain our road safety. One road death due a defective vehicle is one to many.

  16. Comment by Ken Mcintosh posted on

    I would most definitely leave on the advisory part as I see it as our insurance policy in any unfortunate event where we are called to task.
    When you have a situation where you can advise slight play in a track rod end or ball joint if we analyse this, over the next year will the joint stay the same or possibly get worse
    As for exemptions on vehicles older than 40 years that just makes a mockery of the mot scheme,do these older cars not go wrong?

  17. Comment by roy cameron posted on

    great idea to have advisories for internal mot scheme use , for many years i have made comments on the inspection sheet,that do not need to be passed on to the vehicle presenter, but might prove to be useful information, if there was an appeal

  18. Comment by Paul Collier posted on

    Most drivers would not drive the car having had a dangerous/major fault identified, you will not stop the minority of law breakers however, whether it's highlighted or not. With regards to trays underneath cars, you had better consult with the manufacturers, who have tend to install them to make it difficult for the DIY enthusiast, to carry out basic procedures like changing engine oil.

  19. Comment by neil terry posted on

    why change a system that already has the facility to do such things...
    you can mark failures as dangerous if deemed so on the present system..yes I agree to keep the manual advisory system as certain items that are not testable can be noted...but it's all about communicating with the customer and a quick explanation to them about the current state of their vehicle seems to be much more appreciated than just saying "your car has failed" and handing them the paperwork and saying nothing...

  20. Comment by Mod posted on

    A car being driven after a failure (to home or another garage) should be subject to automatic blame in the case of an accident as a consequence of the failure, this would make the driver think much more carefully about driving it away and 'getting it done at some point' in the next 10 days whist also not shutting the option off completely.

    Also, MOT test schedules should be based in mileage aswell as time, ie, 10,000miles or 12months which ever is sooner, as most of a car is a case of wear and tear rather than ageing which is pretty much just corrosion and perishing on the things that do get tested that age.

  21. Comment by BOAB B posted on

    Roadworthiness Directive sounds like change for the sake of change.We can already fail for being DANGEROUS a MAJOR fail is only a FAIL and a MINOR is an advise why CHANGE.Waste of time and Money.

    • Replies to BOAB B>

      Comment by Richard Strong posted on

      I agree in principle but unfortunately we ha have got to bring the MOT in line with EU regulations. I do not however see it change back when we leave the EU.

  22. Comment by stoker posted on

    Manual advisories are a good way of further explanation when the fail critera is vague.

  23. Comment by Guy Day posted on

    My concern is that many garages see an MOT fail as a way to 'rip off' the owner for the repair. I have come across many who are overcharged for repairs and have learned that MOT stations without an attached garage are the only fair testing stations. I am happy with a strict test and differing levels of advisories. I also feel that the age exemption should be 50, not 40 years.

    • Replies to Guy Day>

      Comment by Andrew Yates posted on

      A very broad statement Mr Day, i am sure that not all of us 19000 or so testing stations are all there to "rip off" customers. Maybe you have had a bad experience or two but to make such a sweeping statement i feel is a tad misinformed.

    • Replies to Guy Day>

      Comment by Lloyd posted on

      "MOT stations without an attached garage are the only fair testing stations"

      Just because you've had bad experiences in the past doesn't you can tar everyone with the same brush. The majority of MOT stations carry out a fair test

      • Replies to Lloyd>

        Comment by Messmaker posted on

        We were a Testing station only garage up until two years ago. what we found was people like convenience. They don't want to run around between different garages just to get a car to pass. We're are a by the book garage and don't rip anyone off. its a small town word soon travels if you do. The idea that all repair garages rip people off is just offensive.

  24. Comment by Jason Bowers posted on

    I would honestly keep the manual advisories box as stated by most. I do get the dangerous, major & minor layout but I think that’s probably being changed just for the sake of it. Sounds like the current system with the ‘mark if dangerous’ box & minor defects are basically advisories.
    I too would like to voice concern over a 40 year exemption, a lot of classic car enthusiats haven’t got a clue how to work on their cars & relying on them to keep them roadworthy is asking for trouble.
    I also think a refresher course was great every 5 years, maybe have that alongside the current training. Im sure one day would be sufficient.

  25. Comment by Andy posted on

    It doesn't matter what we say about any of this. If dvsa and the government decide it is going to happeneed it will. I personally think it is all wrong. People in the UK are to tight to spend money on there cars (if it doesn't fail and it still moves it won't get repaired). We need to keep manual advisories to inform customers of things that are not listed on the system. The rolling mot exemption is just dangerous. The government keeps banging on about getting the older cars of the road and this will encourage more people to drag old unroadworthy cars out of barns and hedges and just drive them. They say that we need to educate drivers on looking after there cars and keeping them roadworthy. If this is the case then surely carrying out an mot once a year to make sure these vehicles meet the MINIMUM standards is acceptable. I for one would not want one of these vehicles causing an accident and injuring (or worse) one of my family

  26. Comment by James Finlay posted on

    The exclusion of 40 plus year old vehicles from MOT is laughable. Granted most of the owners of these cars are assiduous in their care of them...but often at an 'enthusiastic amateur' level. Surely a test based around the standard test procedure of the vehicle's era should be feasible. The other aspect of such vehicles is that many are modified - some I know had uprated brake systems (to 4 pot calipers in many cases), which whilst bringing about a noticeable improvement to the user (but questions about brake balance etc. still remain) would still contravene the law if the car was not MOT'd.....and many such vehicles are not MOT'd.

    Before retiring from a VM about 5 years ago, I had frequent internal discussions about their diagnostics not being able to identify 'Chip' changes, particularly on Diesels, but petrol as well. Maybe VM's have the technology for the diagnostics now but again how many cars are running these re-mapped power trains. Is this not an Emission issue as well?

    Also we have the DPF removal 'industry', which our leaders have just (apparently?) been made aware of (have the authorities never looked on online at this stuff, which has been around for ages?) and are now coming out in righteous indignation about (for their 'caring' images you understand) - until they can latch onto some other headline grabbing issue. This was the subject of a Radio 5 Live programme recently with (naturally) MP's featured displaying shock horror and the 'we must do something' syndrome - so that one is no doubt featuring in MOT revision proposals

  27. Comment by Jamie posted on

    The dangerous defects reporting is a good idea very similar to prohibitions on HGVs. If a car has a wheel held on by only one wheel nut or the brake pads are metal to metal then the vehicle should be taken off the road. I for one would not like to have a vehicle I have just inspected kill someone because the owner is driving it away to have the failures repaired.

    I also believe that the manual reporting system needs to stay. I inspect a lot of vehicles with ladder holders etc on the roof and I always check they are secure. It is not part of the test but I do not want a vehicle I have just inspected driving away from the workshop, going round a corner and killing someone when the ladder swings out. At least with the manual advisory system it can be recorded at the time of test as well as being verbally passed onto the driver.

    • Replies to Jamie>

      Comment by peter owen posted on

      Manual advisories are a must,they do serve a pupose.If its on the system it cannot be denied.There are lots of items that can be a risk that are not on the mot.If we ignore them without comment then why bother to MOT a vehicle? This thou would seem to be the gov/dept stand as seen by the intended 40 year exemption.If you do more older bike tests dvsa concider your mot site at greater risk on their scale.This is contary to their planned exemptions.

  28. Comment by Shaun posted on

    Keep the manual advisories PLEASE !!!

    • Replies to Shaun>

      Comment by jason harper posted on

      i only use manual advisories as there is in my opinion for example a huge gap between slight play and the fail excessive ..

  29. Comment by Ed posted on

    Will pre 1960 vehicles that are currently exempt from testing need to be tested if they are modified?

    • Replies to Ed>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Ed
      The new exemption will apply to a vehicle that:
      (a) was manufactured or registered for the first time at least 40 years previously
      (b) is of a type no longer in production and
      (c) has been historically preserved or maintained in its original state and has not undergone substantial changes in the technical characteristics of its main components.
      These vehicles will be known as Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI) and guidance for owners of substantially altered vehicles of this age is currently being developed by DfT.

  30. Comment by D mays posted on

    Here we go again interfering with something that's working ok why put major in?.it serves no purpose to complicate things. The customer will think test station is trying to con them even more.And it's not garage s fault.Listen to people on ground floor D.V.S.A. for once.

  31. Comment by Mike posted on

    Why not just have MOT stations run by DVSA for doing tests only and give the customer just one chance to get the car fixed if it fails then DVSA can change what they like without us having to relearn the MOT test ever five minutes ....

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Mike

      Thanks for the suggestion. However, at the moment, there are no plans to move MOT testing away from the garage trade.

  32. Comment by PhilAvery posted on

    I like the idea of having non visible advisories, they are things that would not affect the safety of the vehicle so the customer need not know about them. However the fact that they had been noted would, in the case of an amateur mechanic telling the owner "This should have failed the MOT report them to DVSA", show that the fault had been noticed & commented upon. As commented on above, the undertray issue is an item in question. Also in my experience some conscientious owners would worry unduly if they knew of these items.
    Please keep the manual advisory system there are many items that the customer needs to be aware of that don't actually fail the test & there are no advisory notes we can enter. The prime example, again as someone else has commented on, heavily worn tyre shoulders but not exposing cords. I see these on a regular basis & at the moment can note as a manual advisory !!!
    I don't see why the failure system needs to be changed, the dangerous marker could perhaps be enhanced somewhat to indicate the seriousness of the failure. Personally I always ensure, wherever possible, that I see the customer when they pick up the vehicle & explain to them that it would be dangerous to drive it on public roads.

    • Replies to PhilAvery>

      Comment by matt clarke posted on

      I agree I think a hidden page is great, as we try to inform the customer of what they need to know but as the list increases with minor defects or covers etc customers all want a clean sheet.

  33. Comment by Roger Parnell posted on

    Rog 06 nov

    please leave the system as it is PASS or FAIL and customers must see all advisories, and i think if it is on the road it should have a MOT at any age.

  34. Comment by Carl Barber posted on

    Marking it down as dangerous and don't drive just makes the tester looking for a job to make a quick buck a defect on any car is a defect end of if the customer is unaware of the defect they should be automatically notified and advised on what the best action to do to keep the car on the road safely as possible manual advisory should be kept as that allows testers to put down some notes that are not on the list of defects or advisorys

  35. Comment by Pete posted on

    As a Tester that served his time on these soon to be 40 year old 'wonder cars' I have to laugh in disbelief.... do they really get better? Its not wine we are talking about, it's a motor vehicle that has the potential to kill if not kept roadworthy. Surely the MOT helps in this regard. As for your new tiered fail idea, I see little point, if the car doesn't meet the minimum standard to drive on a public road it fails the MOT. If it is dangerous we can mark it as such, then the owner is knowingly driving with a dangerous fault should they wish too. Please keep manual advisories there are too many items that are quite rightly a pass but we don't have an option to advise the fault we need ie: a tyre almost worn thro to the cords on inner edge is a pass if all other criteria are met, but in a few hundred miles or less that tyre could be in a dangerous condition.

    • Replies to Pete>

      Comment by Nick posted on

      As a transport manager, I have tested cars and vans and was always astounded by the fact I could never take a dangerous car or van off the road as is possible with, an HGV, giving the tester this ability could be considered
      A step in the right direction towards greater road safety

    • Replies to Pete>

      Comment by James posted on

      With you all the way on the 40 plus situation. Granted many owners are pretty fastidious but not all are really that knowlwdgeable so a 3rd party professional regular check is essential. Emissions even to basic excessive exhaust smoke should be checked against the standards of the day.

  36. Comment by Russ posted on

    On a separate note though, not sure why people still keep going on about the training. I think it's a lot better not having to go to a classroom/training centre. But if that works better for you there's still companies out there where you can do it that way.
    Keep it like this I say. Everyone then has the choice to do the training how they see fit.

  37. Comment by Mark posted on

    After 30 plus years in testing You should put my time in to the bits that matter real world mot like adding ( under body covers fitted as before, tyres perished, mot test carried out in wet conditions etc around us most live in a world where a mot is just something they need to tax the car ! Safety is not on there mind they do not even service them no water no oil if the car could run on fresh air they would do

  38. Comment by Robert posted on

    The manual advise is in my opinion a really important tool for the tester and I think it would limit our ability to inform the driver of items found during the test that do not always fall into a specific group or category .

  39. Comment by G. Campbell posted on

    The only problems with the MOT system is the constant meddling and gradual privatisation of the system. Leave it alone whilst testers still know what they are doing and before the amount of testers dries up due to the costs of training - Not many employers will risk paying the £500 upwards being charged to train new testers who may then move on to other garages.

  40. Comment by Stephen posted on

    Hi, If you fail a vehicle and mark as DANGEROUS some customers ill think your trying to rob of there monies to either repair the vehicle or force them into purchasing a newer vehicle.
    At the moment if I mark a specific item as DANGEROUS some customers seem to be gob smacked and argue the vehicle drives fine.
    The word DANGEROUS can be confusing also to the older folks..

  41. Comment by Charles Bolton posted on

    I've read the comments with interest.
    My feeling is that if you categorise the reportable defects as you think you may - it may work? But why remove the use of "pass and advise"?
    As for 40 year old vehicles being exempt testing, I'm sure insurance companies may have a say. My insurance company told me the car must be tested if I wanted the rate they quoted.

  42. Comment by dave posted on

    I have just returned from an Australian holiday, no MOT there at all, and funny but there are not cars in bits on the side of the road,no wheels falling of and or cars not stopping not that for one minute do i agree in not having an MOT system in place I do think we are starting to get really silly now , why can it not just be left alone

  43. Comment by Dave posted on

    Definitely keep manual advises good way to protect the tester. As for going to three categories no point if it is a fail, it fails doesn't matter if it is a dangerous fail or a bulb out. That what the dangerous marker was for. All customers ignore advisories once they get their ticket.


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person