Change to MOT rules could cost you £1,000

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The experts have issued a warning about changes to the MOT rules which came in last month. They say that as a result of the changes, thousands of motorists will find themselves with a bill of at least £1,000 when they take their car for a test.

But what is the change, and who is affected?

Rule change

The warning has been issued by Halfords Autocentres, which says that the rule in question relates to emissions tests on diesel cars.

In the past your car would have just been tested to ensure it meets minimum standards for emissions. However, it will now include a check on whether there is a diesel particulate filter in place. These have been fitted into all diesel cars manufactured in the past five years - and reduce emissions by about 80%.

If your car should have one of these fitted and there isn't one present, the vehicle will automatically fail.

Missing?

The reason why they are missing on some cars is that over time these filters tend to become clogged. This is particularly the case when the cars are used for short journeys – because the filter doesn't get hot enough to burn off the particulates that build up over time.

It's not a major issue if the filter becomes blocked, because there are products that can be used to clean them - for about £30. Cars can also be fitted with a preventative exhaust system cleaner costing as little as £20 .

Rory Carlin from Halfords Autocentres says that the problem is that instead of cleaning the filters, some garages have simply removed them - despite the fact that it's illegal.

The government got wise to this practice, so the Department of Transport introduced this check. Announcing the change, Roads Minister Robert Goodwill, said: "I am very concerned that vehicles are being modified in a way that is clearly detrimental to people's health and undoes the hard work car manufacturers have taken to improve emissions standards. It has become apparent the government had to intervene to clarify the position on particulate filter removal given the unacceptable negative impact on air quality. This change to the MOT tests makes it clear – if you have this filter removed from your car it will fail the test."

Unfortunately, if your car has already had the filter removed there is nothing you can do: you'll need to pay for it to be refitted.

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