MOT test changes: New headlight rules could see classic car owners issued an instant fail

13th March 2021 | John

13th March 2021 –

Classic car owners may face difficulty passing their MOT test after a new rule change by the Driver Vehicle Standard Agency (DVSA).

An update to the MOT inspection manual now means classic car owners who have had LED bulbs fitted to their vehicles will fail their test. The new clarification will apply to modern classic vehicles and those who still opt to get their car checked despite already being exempt as a historic vehicle.

LED lights cannot be fitted anywhere else on your historic vehicle unless the bulbs meet ECE standard 128 and ECE standard 148.

However, few bulbs available on the market meet this standard making them illegal on UK vehicles.

The manual said: “Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with high-intensity discharge (HID) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

“If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.”

However, converting bulbs on classic cars is a popular upgrade as older parts will need replacing over time.

In a statement to, specialists at Cheltenham based firm Classic Car LEDs said the rules regarding LED lights were still a confused one despite the updates.

They said: “The changes made in May 2018 to UK MOT law banned HID conversion for halogen headlamp reflectors and this was extended to include LED conversions in January 2021.

“Many customers are still reporting passes since the change was made though.

“We will not guarantee a pass though as the pass is at the discretion of the examiner.

“Other fittings such as sidelights, brake lights and indicators may be OK for MOT purposes but again this is at the discretion of the examiner and this does not make them road legal.

“A number of clubs we work with on regular basis have contacted their local MOT stations and have been advised that LED upgrades are fine in their view as long as the tests results are satisfactory.

“A small proportion have advised they would not pass a vehicle fitted with LED conversions.”

According to Classic Car Weekly, historic car clubs are now pushing to see conformity for LED bulbs.

Many say the rules are unclear with many members having already installed LED bulbs alongside their indicators.

Clubs also warn many owners are still unaware they are breaking the law putting many road users at risk of being penalised.

Nick Rawlinson, owner of Barnack Test Centre has urged reverse to secure halogen headlamps instead of doing LED conversions.

Speaking to Classic Car Weekly, he said halogen bulbs were available for “most classics” and was better than adding an “unregulated” light to their cars.

Previous data from the RAC has revealed lighting and signalling issues were the most common reasons drivers failed their MOT tests. has contacted the DVSA for further comment.

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