MOT inspection manual: cars and passenger vehicles

3. Visibility

Field of vision, bonnet catches, condition of the glass, the view to the rear, windscreen wipers and windscreen washer rules and inspection for car and passenger vehicle MOT tests.

3.1. Field of vision

You must inspect all windscreens, including windscreens that open.

How to inspect:

  1. Sit in the driver’s seat.

  2. Check the driver’s field of vision through the windscreen.

  3. Check the driver’s field of vision through the front side windows.

You should only fail the windscreen if the view is significantly affected. If only the driver’s view of the sky or the bonnet is affected, it should not be rejected.

You do not need to consider how the field of vision would be affected by tall or short drivers

The following are only considered a defect if they seriously restrict the driver’s view:

  • taxi signs to indicate when the vehicle is ‘for hire’
  • ‘official’ stickers, such as parking and disabled permits
  • sun visor on the driver’s side that cannot be stowed in the ‘off screen’ position
  • windscreen wipers that automatically stop in a position obscuring the view

You can remove items such as a sat nav or air fresheners that obstruct the driver’s view of the road. However, make sure you tell the driver.

You must inspect bonnet catches on vehicles with a bonnet, which would obscure the driver’s view of the road if opened. The inspection is only for primary catches - those that hold the bonnet fully closed. Secondary safety catches are not part of the inspection.

You must accept manufacturer’s original design characteristics, such as:

  • opaque edging
  • split windscreens
  • modifications to security type vehicles, for example additional windscreen protection and strengthening supports

Additional interior mirrors and externally mounted items such as mascots and spare wheels are not part of the test.

Defect Category
(a) An obstruction:

(i) within the driver’s field of view that materially affects his view in front or to the sides outside the swept area of windscreen
(ii) materially affecting the driver’s view of the road through the swept area of the windscreen or an obligatory external mirror not visible


Minor

Major
(b) A bonnet:

(i) which cannot be safely secured in the closed position
(ii) seriously at risk of opening inadvertently


Major
Dangerous
(c) A bonnet primary retaining device excessively deteriorated, ineffective or insecure Major

3.2. Condition of glass

You must check the condition of:

  • the windscreen
  • windows on either side of the driver’s seat

To inspect the condition of glass:

  1. Sit in the driver’s seat.

  2. Check the view of the road.

  3. Check the view of mandatory external mirrors.

Check for:

  • damage in windscreen zone A more than 10mm in diameter
  • damage in the remainder of the windscreen’s swept area more than 40mm in diameter
  • damage to windows on either side of the driver’s seat
  • excessive tinting or discolouration of the windscreen or windows on either side of the driver’s seat

Failure for damage is only justified if the damage significantly affects the driver’s view of the road. You do not need to consider the effects on tall or short drivers.

Failure for tinting or discolouration is only justified if the driver’s view is significantly affected.

Zone A is:

  • in the swept area of the windscreen
  • 290mm wide
  • centred on the steering wheel


Windscreen zone A


Repaired windscreens must be judged solely on whether the repair interferes with vision. An ‘invisible’ or barely detectable repair, finished flush with the surrounding glass, does not count as damage.

Class 5 glazing

Vehicles first used from 1 June 1978 must have:

  • windscreens and windows on either side of the driver’s seat made from safety glass
  • all other windows made from safety glass or safety glazing

Safety glass can be identified by one of the following markings:

  • BS 857
  • BS 5282 – but not acceptable on vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1985
  • TP GS or TP GSE – but not acceptable on vehicles first used on or after 1 October 1986
  • BS AU 178
  • an ‘E’ mark (including the number 43R)
  • an ‘e’ mark followed by a number, such as e11, inside a square

Safety glazing means material other than glass constructed or treated not fly into fragments that would cause severe cuts if it’s fractured. There is no marking requirement for safety glazing.

Defect Category
(a) Windscreen or window damaged or seriously discoloured:

(i) but not adversely affecting driver’s view
(ii) and affecting the driver’s view of the road or of an obligatory external mirror


Minor
Major
(b) Windscreen or window excessively tinted:

(i) but not adversely affecting driver’s view
(ii) and visibility through swept area of windscreen or of an obligatory external mirror seriously affected


Minor
Major
(c) Windscreen or window:

(i) in an unacceptable condition e.g. due to excessive scratching
(ii) in such a condition that visibility through swept area is seriously affected


Major
Dangerous
(d) The windscreen or a window wholly or partly on either side of the driver’s seat is not made from safety glass Major
(e) A window not wholly or partly on either side of the driver’s seat is not made from safety glass or safety glazing Major

3.3. View to rear

You must check that all mandatory rear-view mirrors or indirect vision devices provide an adequate view to the rear from the driver’s seat.

You do not need to adjust mirrors or devices for this check.

Indirect vision cameras may replace mirrors on some vehicles. If such devices are fitted, you must inspect the camera(s) and the screen.

Rear view mirrors and indirect vision devices can be any of the following positions:

  1. a. an exterior mirror or device that provides a view along the offside of the vehicle
  2. b. an exterior mirror or device that provides a view along the nearside of the vehicle
  3. c. an interior mirror or device which provides a view to the rear of the vehicle

Obligatory mirror or device fitment positions

Vehicle type Date of first use Requirements
Passenger vehicles with fewer than 8 passenger seats First used before 1 August 1978 At least one mirror/device in any of the above positions
Any passenger vehicle (excluding buses and minibuses) First used on or after 1 August 1978x Two mirrors/devices, one of which must be in position ‘a’
Passenger vehicles with 8 or more passenger seats (excluding buses and minibuses) Any age Two mirrors/devices, one of which must be in position ‘a’
Goods vehicles Any age Two mirrors/devices, one of which must be in position ‘a’
Buses and minibuses First used before 1 August 1983 Two mirrors/devices, one of which must be in position ‘a’
Buses and minibuses First used on or after 1 August 1983 An exterior mirror/device fitted on both the offside and the nearside (‘a’ and ‘b’)
Bodied tricycles and quadricycles Any age Two mirrors or devices, one of which must be in position ‘a’
Unbodied tricycles and quadricycles other than mopeds Any age Two mirrors or devices, one in position ‘a’ and one in position ‘b’
Unbodied tricycles and quadricycles classed as mopeds On or after 1 August 1978 At least one mirror or device in position ‘a’


Defect Category
(a) Obligatory mirror or device missing Major
(b) Obligatory mirror or device:

(i) slightly damaged or loose
(ii) inoperative, excessively damaged or insecure


Minor
Major
(c) Obligatory mirror or device not providing an adequate view to the rear Major

3.4. Windscreen wipers

You do not need to inspect windscreen wipers on vehicles with:

  • an opening windscreen
  • some other means of giving the driver an adequate view through the windscreen to the front, left and right

You only need to reject a windscreen wiper if it’s clearly damaged or worn.

Defect Category
(a) Wiper not operating or missing Major
(b) Wiper blade:

(i) defective
(ii) missing or obviously not clearing the windscreen


Minor
Major

3.5. Windscreen washers

You do not need to inspect windscreen washers on vehicles with:

  • an opening windscreen
  • some other means of providing the driver with an adequate view through the windscreen to the front, left and right

Washers must provide enough fluid for the wipers to clear the windscreen effectively.

Defect Category
(a) Windscreen washers not working or not providing sufficient fluid to clear the windscreen Major