A leading motoring body has warned that changes to the MOT later this year could create confusion and potentially put the safety of road users at risk.
From May 20 the way faults are classified is changing. Currently a vehicle either passes or fails the roadworthiness test and testers can issue advisory notices for issues which do not constitute a fail but which the tester feels need attention.
Under the new system faults and defects will fall into one of three categories – Dangerous, Major or Minor.
Any car with a dangerous or major fault will automatically fail the MOT while a vehicle with a minor fault will pass the test but with a record of the fault made on the MOT certificate.
The changes are being introduced as part of the EU Roadworthiness Package with the aim of standardising testing and improving safety.
However, the RAC has warned that the new classifications could create grey areas and leave cars with potential safety issues on the road.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: â€œWhile on the surface this change seems like a sensible move we fear many motorists could end up being confused by the new categories which give an indication as to the seriousness of vehicle defects identified in an MOT test.
â€œRather than MOT failures simply being black and white, the new system creates the potential for confusion as testers will have to make a judgement as to whether faults are â€˜dangerousâ€™, â€˜majorâ€™ or â€˜minorâ€™. This will surely be open to interpretation which may lead to greater inconsistency from one test centre to another.
â€œMotorists may also struggle to understand the difference between â€˜dangerousâ€™ and â€˜majorâ€™ failures. The current system ensures that any vehicle with a fault that doesnâ€™t meet the MOT requirements is repaired appropriately before being allowed back on the road.
â€œWe should be doing all we can to make the vehicles on our roads as safe as possible rather introducing a new system which has the potential to do the opposite. We do not want to see a lowering of MOT standards.â€
â€œWe understand the Government has little choice in the matter, but gut instinct says if the system isnâ€™t broken, why mess with it. But if a car is broken, fix it.â€
Emissions and exemptions
Other changes to the test include tougher emissions testing for diesel vehicles, which will see lower limits and any car with a diesel particulate filter issued with a major fault if it emits any visible smoke.
Cars more than 40 years old will also no longer have to be presented for an MOT, which has prompted some to raise concerns over potentially dangerous vehicles allowed on the roads unchecked.