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MORE MOT NOTES

If, like me, you are not technically minded, quite a few aspects of the forthcoming changes in the MOT on 20th May are, at first sight, rather bewildering. So, firstly, let us consider what happens if your car was constructed over 40 years ago. To quote the Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI): Substantial Change Guidance:  

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.

Wording from the government guidelines


Furthermore, if you self-declare your vehicle as exempt from the test, you are therefore confirming that it is both a) aged at least 40 years and b) that it has not been changed within the past 30 years. It is perhaps the latter half of this exemption process that has recently been causing great confusion – but after input from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, the government has issued the document linked to above and it makes for both interest and vital reading.

For example, 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 include the chassis or monocoque bodyshell; however, the government states that ‘replacements of the same pattern as the original’ are not considered a substantial change’ in both cases. An ‘alteration of the type and or method of suspension or steering’ is also a ‘substantial change’ but with engines, matters become a tad more confusing:

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.”

Wording from the government guidelines

 

By contrast, ‘Acceptable Changes’ include:

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. 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.

Wording from the government guidelines

  

All the above is but one extract from the guidance notes from H M Government, so the logical point is to study the DfT guidelines carefully and never be too proud to seek expert advice whenever you are in doubt. The FBHVC’s website has some further extremely useful advice - http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/legislation-and-fuels/vhi-declarations-and-advisors/ and http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/about-us/news/_article/125/government-publishes-definition-of-vehicle-of-historic-interest/

One final point. You will still be able to have your classic tested, should you wish, and many will consider that this is essential for peace of mind and for road safety per se.

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