Similarly, vehicles manufactured over 40 years ago are classed as ‘historic’ and are not officially required to be tested, but can still be deemed unsafe by the police and taken off the road.
To claim historic exemption, a vehicle must be largely in original condition, with no substantial modifications made to the bodywork, suspension or powertrain. Many classic car owners choose to have their car tested anyway, just for peace of mind, which is generally accepted to be the best course of action.
Often overlooked, your car’s number plate is one of the easiest things you can check to avoid a failure or advisory. To pass, it must be the right colour (usually black/yellow at the rear, black/white at the front), be fully legible (no significant cracks, scrapes or fading) and display the correct registration format for your car’s year.
The DVSA also advises that the characters on your number plate must be in the correct font, and that the plate itself must be sized appropriately.
Lights and indicators
Every test will include a test of your car’s headlights, which should be aimed properly, switch correctly between dipped and full beam and have clear, unmarked lenses.
The indicators will also be tested at this stage, with a failure issued for any non-flashing bulbs. The number plate light, reversing lights and any fog lamps will also be checked.
Any vehicle with improperly functioning brake lights is dangerous, so they should illuminate clearly when pressure is applied to the brake pedal during the test.
The ‘presence, operation, condition’ rule comes into play here, as well; if your car has a centrally mounted third brake light (which it doesn’t legally need), it has to work. The basic rule is: if it’s there, it needs to function.
Tyre tread depth is integral to a vehicle’s safety, and can be one of the most costly failures to fix. It doesn’t take much to check beforehand, though – the minimum average tread depth allowed on UK roads is 1.6mm – or roughly the same as the border of a 20p coin – so if you’ve got one in your pocket, run it down every groove and you’ll see how much life’s left in your rubber.