More confusion for owners of both Classic & Modern Cars…
There is little doubt that the main talking point in Classic Car circles over the last six months or so has been the changes to the legislation surrounding MOT’s for our vehicles. Whether we agree with the changes or not, the one certainty is that things will indeed change for us!
Last month saw the Government decide to backtrack on the proposed changes to how long a new car needed to wait for it’s first MOT, the DoT initially suggesting that four years was it’s preferred option but then reverting to three years again on the basis safety would be compromised.
Strangely, the argument about safety being compromised was the one made by a large majority of Classic Car owners when the proposal to remove the statutory annual MOT test for vehicles older than 40 years old was first mooted !
Here at ACCC we have Classics of varying ages and not all our members fall into the ‘older than 40’ bracket (in terms of cars at least!) but changes to the ‘standard’ MOT Test will affect those newer vehicles too. In late May, the types of faults reported on an MOT certificate will be changed and will fall under three headings :
These will be MOT Failures in all cases and will include faults deemed to cause the car to be ‘an immediate danger’ such as substantial fuel leaks or brake fluid leaks etc.
These will also be MOT Failures and will include items that would make the vehicle unsafe to use in the longer term such as lights that don’t work or windscreen wiper blades in poor condition / split.
These will not result in a fail but are worth mentioning in much the same way as an ‘advisory’ is currently treated. Items such a slight corrosion (not structural), corrosion on brake pipes or slight movement in joints are the types of things to expect here.
But of course cars over 40 years old won’t be obliged to endure this level of scrutiny or indeed any other level according to the statute. There is a movement in the Classic Car world to oppose this but the likelihood is that things will progress as planned, so where does that leave us?
Well, as announced late last year, any vehicle over 40 years old can apply to become a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) which automatically exempts them from the requirement to have an annual MOT. Owners don’t have to register as a VHI and can keep the ‘status quo’ if they wish, so why are we concerned?
The vast majority of classic car owners are honest, diligent sorts who keep their chosen vehicles in a very good state of repair but are by definition, amateurs who might miss something or not have the equipment to fully check or inspect to the standard a specialist should. There is the question of the small minority who would abuse the loophole and bodge cars up to sell without them having being checked for safety & standard of work. Whilst all of this is opinion & supposition until reality strikes on the 20th May this year, the fears are real and the discussion is one we hear between enthusiasts quite regularly.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) has taken a very proactive role in this and has been in constant communication with the Department for Transport as these rules have evolved. It may clear up some of the confusion the changes have inevitably caused if we reproduce some of the FBHVC’s guidance below :
You can also join in with the conversation on our Forum on this topic by clicking ‘HERE‘
Important points from the FBHVC
- The process is one of self-declaration.
- Owners will only be required to declare their vehicle to be a VHI if they wish to be exempted from an annual MoT Test.
- All vehicles will still be able to be tested if their owners wish.
- The criteria are generic and permit changes made, less than 30 years prior to the declaration, which improve efficiency, safety, preservation or environmental performance.
- Those vehicles registered on a Q plate, as kits or built up classics are not entitled to be declared as VHIs until 40 years after they were registered.
- For motorcycles only the criteria of Q plates, kits and built-up classics prevent declaration as a VHI.
- The Guidance refers to ‘a marque or historic vehicle experts’. A list will be published on the website of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs by 30 April 2018. Vehicle owners wishing to confirm if they may declare their vehicle as a VHI, may choose to contact the appropriate nominee from this list.
The new legislation will come into effect from 20 May 2018.
If you decide to skip MOTs, then here’s how to check your own car.
Department for Transport’s guidance on Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI)
These are the notes, in full, released by the Department for Transport:
- Most vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago will, as of 20 May
2018, be exempt from periodic testing unless they have been substantially changed.
- Large goods vehicles (ie goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight of more than
3.5 tonnes) and buses (ie vehicles with eight or more seats) that are used commercially
will not be exempted from periodic testing at 40 years.
- A vehicle that has been substantially changed within the previous 30 years will have
to be submitted for annual MoT testing. Whether a substantially changed vehicle
requires re-registration is a separate process.
- Keepers of VHIs exempt from periodic testing continue to be responsible for their
vehicle’s roadworthiness. Keepers of vehicles over 40 years old can voluntarily
submit vehicles for testing.
- Keepers of VHIs claiming an exemption from the MoT test should make a declaration
when renewing their vehicle tax. The responsibility to ensure the declared vehicle is
a VHI and meets the criteria, rests with the vehicle keeper as part of their due
diligence. If a vehicle keeper is not sure of the status of a vehicle, they can consult
a marque or historic vehicles expert, a list of whom will be available on the website of
the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.
- If a vehicle keeper cannot determine that the vehicle has not been substantially
changed, they should not claim an exemption from the MOT test.
The criteria for substantial change
A vehicle will be considered substantially changed if the technical characteristics of
the main components have changed in the previous 30 years, unless the changes
fall into specific categories. These main components for vehicles, other than
- Chassis (replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a
substantial change) or Monocoque bodyshell including any sub-frames
(replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a substantial
- Axles and running gear – alteration of the type and or method of suspension or
steering constitutes a substantial change;
- Engine – alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative
original equipment engines are not considered a substantial change. If the number
of cylinders in an engine is different from the original, it is likely to be, but not
necessarily, the case that the current engine is not alternative original equipment.
- The following are considered acceptable (not substantial) changes if they fall into
these specific categories:
Changes that are made to preserve a vehicle, which in all cases must be when
original type parts are no longer reasonably available;
Changes of a type, that can be demonstrated to have been made when
vehicles of the type were in production or in general use (within ten years of
the end of production);
In respect of axles and running gear changes made to improve efficiency,
safety or environmental performance;
In respect of vehicles that have been commercial vehicles, changes which can
be demonstrated were being made when they were used commercially.
In addition if a vehicle (including a motorcycle):
Has been issued with a registration number with a ‘Q’ prefix; or
Is a kit car assembled from components from different makes and model of
Is a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by DVLA guidance; or
Is a kit conversion, where a kit of new parts is added to an existing vehicle, or
old parts are added to a kit of a manufactured body, chassis or monocoque
bodyshell changing the general appearance of the vehicle;
it will be considered to have been substantially changed and will not be exempt
from MOT testing.
However if any of the four above types of vehicle is taxed as an ‘historic vehicle’ and
has not been modified during the previous 30 years, it can be considered as a VHI.
This guidance is only intended to determine the testing position of a
substantially changed vehicle, not its registration.
How to declare a vehicle for the 40 year MOT exemption
- Vehicle keepers are required to ensure that their vehicles are taxed when used on a
public road. From 20 May 2018, at the point of taxing a vehicle, the vehicle keeper
can declare their vehicle exempt from MOT if it was constructed more than 40 years
- When declaring an exemption, you will be required to confirm that it has not been
substantially changed (as defined in this guidance). This process will be applied to
pre-1960 registered vehicles, as well as newer vehicles in the historic vehicle tax
- If the vehicle does not have an MOT and you wish to continue using it on the public
roads, you will have either to undergo an MOT or, if you wish exemption from the
MOT, to declare that the vehicle is a VHI.
- If the vehicle has a current MOT certificate but you anticipate that on expiry of that
certificate you will wish exemption from future MOTs you will at the time of
relicensing be required to declare that the vehicle is a VHI.
How to tax your vehicle in the historic vehicle tax class
Where vehicle keepers first apply for the historic vehicle tax class, it must be done at
a Post Office. If you are declaring that your vehicle is exempt from MOT, you will
need to complete a V112 declaration form, taking into consideration the substantially
changed guidelines, (as defined above). Further re-licensing applications, including
making subsequent declarations that the vehicle does not require an MOT, can be
Further advice on taxing in the historic vehicle tax class can be found here.
What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle aged more than 40 years old and first registered in or after 1960?
- From 20 May 2018 most of these vehicles will not need a valid MOT certificate to be
used on public roads. You still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition
and can voluntarily have a test. We recommend continued regular maintenance and
checks of the vehicle.
- You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered in the last 30
years, checking against the criteria (in the guidance above). If it has been altered
substantially a valid MOT certificate will continue to be required. If you are unsure
check, for example from an expert on historic vehicles (list referenced in the
guidance). If you buy a vehicle, we also recommend checking with the previous
owner if you can.
- The registration number of a vehicle should not be used to determine if the vehicle is
a VHI as it may not reflect the vehicle’s age (cherished transfers, reconstructed
classic vehicles etc.) The registration certificate (V5C) is more authoritative, but
there are specific cases for example related to imported vehicles where in some
cases the age of the vehicle would not have been captured at point of registration.
- If your vehicle does not have a current MOT certificate and is exempt from needing
an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for Vehicle
- For large vehicles, see also the later sections.
What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle first registered before 1960?
- These vehicles are currently exempt from the requirement for a valid MOT certificate
to be used on public roads. Most, but not all, will continue to be exempt. You still
need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test.
- We recommend continued regular maintenance and checks of the vehicle.
- You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered within the last
30 years checking against the criteria (in the guidance notes). If it has been
substantially changed, an MOT certificate will be required for its use on public roads
from 20th May 2018, even if the vehicle has previously not required an MOT.
- If your vehicle does not have a current MOT test certificate and is exempt from
needing an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for
Vehicle Excise Duty.
- If you are responsible for a large goods vehicle (more than 3.5 tonnes) or a public
service vehicle (with 8 or more passenger seats) used commercially, you will require
a valid test certificate if the vehicle has been substantially changed in the last 30
years or if, in the case of a goods vehicle, it is used when laden or towing a trailer.
Which old, large vehicles do not require testing from 20 May 2018?
- Buses and other public service vehicles with 8 or more seats that are used
commercially are exempt if they are pre-1960 vehicles. This is still the case from 20
May 2018 unless they have been substantially changed.
- Buses that are not public service vehicles over 40 years old are exempt from 20th
May 2018 if they meet the new definition of “vehicle of historical interest”.
- Large goods vehicles (of more than 3.5 tonnes) are exempt from testing, if first used
before 1960 and used unladen, but provided (with effect from 20th May 2018) they
have not have been substantially changed.
- A small number of pre-1960 large goods vehicles will require goods vehicle tests. If
they have never been tested, owners will need to apply for a first test using a VTG1
application form. This includes contact details for DVSA, which can be used in the
event of practical problems, for example concerns about testability and finding a test
- Some separate exemptions from testing in full or parts of the test are relevant to
some old, large goods vehicles. For example steam powered vehicles are exempt
from testing. Another example is in respect of the petrol driven historic lorries, all
spark ignition (petrol) vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are exempt from a metered check in