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Prepare to pass the MOT

Here's our rundown of everything that's checked in the annual test

On 1 January 2012, the Department for Transport added several new mandatory test items to the annual MOT to comply with a revised European testing directive.*

The aim of the revised directive (2009/40/EC) was to harmonise minimum test requirements across Europe, and make sure the test reflects the electrical and electronic complexity of modern car safety features.

The legislation to enable the changes required under Directive 2010/48/EU to the MOT test for Classes 4, 5 and 7, came into force on 20 March 2013. Before then the new testable components were subject to a 'bedding in' period, during which any defects found in these components were advisory only.

The latest version of the MOT inspection manual shows the reasons for failure highlighted.

Main changes to the MOT test

Electronic parking brake

Electronic parking brake controls are now included and must be present and not inappropriately repaired or modified - repair obviously likely to adversely affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle or modification that has seriously weakened the component.

(The 'inappropriately repaired or modified' check is to be applied to a wide range of systems and components throughout the vehicle.)

The car will fail if an Electronic Parking Brake warning lamp is illuminated to indicate a malfunction.

Electronic Stability Control

Checks of antilock brakes will be extended to include Electronic Stability Control if fitted.  The tester will check for the presence and correct operation of the ESC malfunction warning light together with looking for obviously missing, excessively damaged or inappropriately repaired or modified components and electrical wiring, as well as an ESC switch missing, insecure or faulty.

Warning lights

As well as electronic parking brake and electronic stability control warning lights (where fitted) the MOT test will also include checks for the correct function of the following, where fitted;

  • Headlight main beam warning light
  • Electronic power steering warning light
  • Brake fluid level warning light
  • Seat belt pre-tensioner warning light
Steering and suspension

The new test includes a check on the presence and correct function of the steering lock where fitted as standard.

Missing, or split or damaged dust covers on steering and suspension ball-joints will result in failure if they will allow dirt to enter the joint.

Power steering fluid level must be above the minimum level indicated on the reservoir.


Products on the lens or light source that obviously reduce the light's intensity or change its colour will become a reason for failure – applies to front/rear position lamps, registration plate lamps, stop lamps, rear fog and direction indicators,

Headlight requirements are updated to take account of the particular characteristics of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps.

HID headlights can cause dazzle if they are dirty or aimed too high, so they are generally (if light output exceeds 2000 lumens) fitted in conjunction with headlamp cleaning and levelling systems.  Where HID or LED dipped beam headlamps are fitted the tester will switch on the headlamps and check the operation of any headlamp levelling and cleaning devices fitted.

The car will fail if a headlamp levelling or cleaning device is inoperative or otherwise obviously defective.

If a headlamp bulb is not seated correctly the resulting beam pattern will be indistinct and this will result in a test fail.

Electrical wiring and battery

An insecure battery will be a reason for failure as will a battery that is leaking electrolyte.

Visible wiring that is insecure, inadequately supported or likely to cause a short will also result in a failure as will wires bared by damaged insulation.

Trailer or caravan electrical socket

There will be a basic security/damage check of 7-pin sockets,

13-pin sockets will be subject to a full electrical connectivity check and incorrectly connected or inoperative circuits will result in failure.


Tyre pressure monitoring systems fitted to vehicles first registered after 1 January 2012 must be working correctly and not indicating a malfunction.

Supplementary restraints

The vehicle will fail the test if any airbag fitted as original equipment is obviously missing or defective.

A seatbelt pre-tensioner fitted as original equipment but missing or that has obviously deployed will be a reason for failure.

Seatbelt load limiters that are missing where fitted as standard or folding webbing type limiters that have obviously deployed are also reasons for failure.

The vehicle will also fail if a Supplementary Restraint System (SRS) malfunction indicator lamp indicates a system malfunction.


The car will fail if a speedometer is not fitted, is incomplete, inoperative, has a dial glass broken/missing or cannot be illuminated.


It must be possible to secure the driver's seat fore and aft adjustment mechanism in two or three different positions. On electric seats the motors must move the seat fore and aft.


A rear door that cannot be opened from the outside using the relevant control is a new reason for failure.

Doors must be easy to open and close – hinges, catches and pillars will be inspected.


Inappropriate repair or modification to the towbar assembly will be a reason for failure if judged likely to affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle or trailer.


A catalytic convertor fitted as original equipment but missing will be a reason for failure.

From February 2014 the inspection of the exhaust system carried out during the MOT test will include a check for the presence of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). A missing DPF, where one was fitted when the vehicle was built, will result in an MOT failure.

Fuel system

Damaged or chafed fuel pipes will result in failure.

(Page updated 6 November 2015)

* The new testable components are:

  • headlamp levelling and cleaning devices when fitted for HID or LED headlamps
  • main beam 'tell-tale'
  • battery - including batteries for electric or hybrid vehicles
  • electrical wiring connectors
  • trailer electrical socket security and damage
  • operation of 13-pin trailer electrical sockets
  • operation of the steering lock (where fitted)
  • electronic power steering malfunction warning indicating a fault
  • electronic parking brake control and malfunction indicator lamp
  • electronic stability control components including switch and malfunction warning
  • brake fluid warning lamp illuminated or inoperative
  • tyre pressure monitoring systems
  • secondary restraint system component including airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and seat belt load limiters.
  • speedometer
  • indirect vision devices – where they replace obligatory mirrors