Talking MOT Standards

In this article: MOT tester and DVSA authority, Paul Charlwood explains how to approach an MOT when something as small as a wheel nut can’t be seen or tested

Recently I was talking to a new tester who was struggling with MOTs, what was making his blood boil? If he fails a vehicle for a missing wheel nut, and it returns half an hour later with a wheel trim covering it, he can’t take the trim off to see if the wheel nut has been replaced.

Would I take the trim off?

Not me. When I test, I test to the standards laid down by the DVSA, a higher authority than I, and it’s their standard I am applying, not mine. The official Government MOT Inspection Manual for private passenger and light goods vehicles states what testers have to do quite clearly:

“The MOT test must be carried out without dismantling, so it isn’t always possible to inspect some testable items. Bonnets, engine covers, luggage compartments, access flaps and passenger compartment doors must be opened when it's necessary to inspect testable items. If for example a bonnet, door or access panel designed to be easily opened can’t be opened, so preventing access to a testable item, you must either abandon or refuse to carry out the test.”

So, a tester can’t dismantle a vehicle. I will pass the car after jacking it up to check for security, but I won’t be removing the trim.

So what should you do if you can’t access an item of the car to test?

First I would take a picture of the car as presented. That’s my second bit of evidence – the first being my original failure. In this case, one shot will do, where I include the VRN too. I have gathered my evidence and store it in case something happens to the car.

Why not issue an advisory?

What would the advisory say? Maybe the owner went to the breakers yard, bought the wheel nut and wheel trim then fitted them – after all, that’s what I would do. I don’t think I should leave a stain on the vehicle’s test history for a defect that might not even exist. I would make an observation on the inspection sheet in my records: “tested with wheel trims fitted”.


I would issue an invoice, keeping a copy for my own records, stating that I “recommend wheel nuts checked for torque and workmanship, we can offer to do so for our usual hourly rate.”

The Government requires the driver to have an MOT on his car, the DVSA lay down how testers should conduct that MOT and that’s what customers get when cars are tested.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

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