The way we categorise vehicle defects is changing.

From the 1st February 2021, there are a number of changes to vehicle defect categories in the DVSA’s guide to maintaining roadworthiness.

The Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness is the DVSA (Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency) document for transport manages and fleet owners to understand how to comply with safety legislation and keep commercial and passenger-carrying vehicles safe and roadworthy.

Learn more about what the guide has to say about:

and the last time to guide had a major update.

So, what’s changed in the guide to maintaining roadworthiness?

Tyres aged over 10 years

Tyres over 10 years old on HGVs and PSVs will be banned from 1 February 2021.

HGVs and PSVs with tyres over 10 years old on the front axle (or on any single wheel for minibuses with 9-16 passenger seats) will fail their annual test.

Issues affecting the view of the road

Items such as dash-mounted tables, laptops, tablets and mobile phones have been added to the guidance section on “Glass and view of the road”.

These items can now be classed amongst “any object seriously impairing the driver’s view through the area swept by the windscreen wipers” – and result as a vehicle being marked as having a defect.

This applies to public service, heavy goods and agricultural vehicles.

Brake friction material

There have been several changes to the way brake friction material may be classified as a defect:

  • Brake friction material lining/pad is classed as being ‘worn to excess’ when it is less than 1.5mm thick at any point (this can be visually assessed)
  • The ‘brake lining/pad/friction material missing/excessively worn/insecure’ defect severity may be classed as either:
    • “missing/detached or detachment imminent”
    • “metal to metal contact”
    • “excessively worn” (see. pt. 1)
  • Brake friction material lining or pad defect can also be classified as “not contacting the new drum or disc – braking efficiency impaired”

This applies to Passenger cars, private buses and light goods vehicles

Obligatory lamps

  • Obligatory daytime running lamps (front position lamps, side marker lamps and end outline marker lamps or light sources) are classed as a defect when they are missing, inoperative or defective
  • Defects to obligatory daytime running lamps are also now classed as “advise early rectification”
  • Rear registration plate lamps on the towing vehicle, which is coupled to a trailer, are also classed as a defect if they are inoperative or defective in operation.

This applies to public service, heavy goods and agricultural vehicles.

Steering control and anti-theft devices

Guidance around steering locks (anti-theft devices) has been updated to include “defective and inadvertently affects safe steering operation” as a defect severity.

New guidance notes have also been added:

“It is acceptable for a steering lock (anti-theft device) to be missing or not working as long as the vehicle has an engine immobiliser, or a permanently installed immobilisation device which acts on either the steering, brakes or the transmission” and “Some electronic steering locks, generally on vehicles with keyless ignition systems, will only activate when the driver’s door is opened or closed”.

This applies to public service, heavy goods and agricultural vehicles.

Complete suspension system malfunction

Complete suspension system malfunction now includes the defect severity options:

  • Adversely affecting stability/control or likely to cause danger, with the note: “Suspension system deflated or significantly above normal ride height”
  • Appears unlikely to affect stability/control or unlikely to cause a danger, with the new note: “Suspension system deflated or significantly above normal ride height”

This applies to public service, heavy goods and agricultural vehicles.


You can see the DVSA’s full table of changes here and newest categorisation of vehicle defects here.