As from May 2018 MOT tests will no longer be a black and white case of pass or fail.

Instead every fault found during the test will be categorised as dangerous, major or minor.
The design of the MOT certificate has also changed; it lists any defects under the new categories so they are clear and easy to understand.

Dangerous: cars that fall into this category are deemed an immediate risk to road safety or have a serious impact on the environment. They will be subject to an automatic fail and should not be driven until the vehicle has been repaired.
(Examples – a tyre with the ply/cords exposed or a tyre tread depth below the legal requirements of 1.6mm).

Major: cars with major defects will automatically fail the MOT and should be repaired immediately.
(Examples – headlamp not working on dipped beam or a coil spring broken on the suspension).

Minor: cars with minor defects will be allowed to pass and the faults will be recorded so you can get them repaired at a later date.
(Examples – brake fluid level is below the minimum mark or a registration plate lamp is inoperative).

Advisories: MOT testers will continue to give advice about items you need to monitor.
(Examples – wiper blade split or an oil leak but not excessive).

In addition to the current checks, some new items are tested during the MOT.
They include checking:
If tyres are obviously under inflated, if the brake fluid has been contaminated, for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk, brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing, reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they are fitted), headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they are fitted), daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old).

Also there are stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. If you don’t know if your car has a DPF you can check your car’s handbook. Your car will get a major fault if the MOT tester:
can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

If you car does fails its MOT, then once the repairs have been completed it will need to be retested.
Re-tests are free at Barnstaple Autocare providing the retest is carried out within 10 working days and we were the original MOT testing centre.
In all other circumstances the retest fee is the same rate as the full MOT test.

There are two ways to get a replacement MOT test certificate.

1. You can get a replacement MOT certificate online if you have lost or damaged the original. Just go to the www.gov.uk website here where you can view, print and save any MOT certificate issued after 20 May 2018. The service is free but you will need the vehicle’s registration number and the 11-digit reference number from the vehicle’s V5C (also known as the logbook).

2. You can go to any MOT approved testing station and give them your vehicle’s registration number and the V5C reference number. The fee for this is £10.


We all know how important it is to go to the doctors for a check-up to make sure everything is running smoothly. Well, the same goes for your car! When a car is designed, manufacturers set out a service schedule for the car, which they believe will keep it running reliably and safely. The manufacturer’s service handbook will set what is best for your car but most modern cars will only need a service once a year.

The European Commission rules on car block exemption came into full effect in October 2003. This new ruling allows independent garages the same access to technical information on your car from the manufacturer, and more importantly, it means that you do not need to go back to a main dealer to retain the warranty cover.

We offer a choice of two types of services – Interim and Full Standard, and we will explain which one your car needs according to the mileage you have done.

But typically an Interim Service includes oil and filter change, checking all the key fluids in the engine (washer fluid, brake fluid, anti-freeze and power steering fluid) and a 28 point check of key components to ensure your car is in the best condition possible. We will also check your brakes, tyres and recommend any additional work your car may need.

A typical Full Standard Service is a 50 point check and will include everything covered in an interim service but will also include a change of spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter, pollen filter, and other service/wear items that are recommended by the manufacturer’s schedule. This does not include any additional repair or maintenance work.

When the service work is complete, we will provide you with a checklist report detailing what has been carried out on an Interim Service or a Full Standard Service. If you are unsure of any item on the checklist, please speak with our friendly, expert technicians who will be able to explain it further. To see a sample copy of the checklist you will receive from us, please click here.

Remember, an MOT is not a service and passing the MOT test will not ensure that your engine is running as efficiently as it should. Regular servicing will help minimise costly and unexpected repairs.


If you experience any of the symptoms below, you may need a clutch replacement.

– If you have difficulty in changing gear
– If your clutch pedal vibrates underneath your foot
– If your clutch pedal feels ‘spongy’
– If you hear a grinding noise or squeaking when the clutch pedal is pressed down.
– A ‘slipping’ clutch (slipping means that under heavy load the gear will simply disengage and cause a temporary loss of acceleration)
– The ability to rev the engine but the acceleration is poor

Brakes & Shock Absorbers

If you hear a grinding noise or squeaking when applying the brakes
If your brake pedal vibrates underneath your foot
If your car pulls to the left or right when braking
If your brake pedal feels ‘spongy’
If your brake pedal is limp and goes all the way to the floor
If your brake warning light is on.
If your handbrake is pulling up higher than it normally does (it may need adjusting)

Brake fluid should be changed approximately every 2 years (take advantage of our reduced ‘brake fluid replacement’ offer when servicing your car)
It is obviously very dangerous if your brakes are not working properly.
Your vehicle could fail its MOT.

One of our friendly and experienced technicians will greet you on arrival and describe the brake check procedure. All visible parts of your vehicle’s braking system will be inspected fully for signs of wear and tear while you wait.
Once completed, our technician will detail the outcome of the check. If any repairs are recommended, these will be explained to you. A no-obligation quote will be provided for any work needed.

It is not necessary, but it is usually recommended to replace them in pairs, for example, both front shock absorbers or both rear shock absorbers. This is because a new shock absorber will absorb road bumps better than the old one. If you replace only one shock absorber, it may create ‘unevenness’ or an imbalance in the suspension.

– leaking fluid
– knocking noise when driving over bumps
– excess vibrations in your steering wheel while driving
– swerving or nose diving when braking
– brakes take more time to stop the car
– uneven tyre wear
– car unstable in windy conditions

Air Conditioning

The first sign that your air conditioning needs re-gassing and servicing is that the air being blown from the vents is not as cool as it used to be or it doesn’t feel any different when the air-con is switched off.
The refrigerant gas in the air conditioning system is constantly leaking out through microscopic holes in the pipes and seals. It is estimated that on average a car loses between 10 and 15 per cent of this gas every year through natural wastage. It is a process that happens whether you are using the air-con or not.

Quite simply, it is going to prevent the air-conditioning from cooling the air. It might also cause the system to stop working. With little or no gas refrigerant in the system, the air-con compressor can overheat; to prevent this, sensors in the air-con system detect low gas pressure and will shut down the air-con system to prevent serious damage to the compressor.

Most car manufacturers recommend you service your car’s air conditioning system every two years, although a lot of people wait until it’s not blowing cold air any more.

When your car’s air-con is given a re-gas and service, our friendly and expert technician will check the system’s lubricant levels and replace the old refrigerant gas with new gas up to the manufacturers recommended level. They will also perform a vacuum test and use ultra violet dye to check for any leaks.

If your car does have a leak in the air-conditioning system, we will provide you with a no-obligation quote for the repair work. As we are not legally allowed to leave the gas refrigerant in the air-con system, the gas will be removed and you will be charged for the test fee only and not the full air-con re-gas and service charge.

Although you can buy re-gas kits, we wouldn’t advise attempting the job yourself. Aside from the physical dangers, such as severe frostbite, the refrigerant gas is harmful to the atmosphere which is why a DIY enthusiast should never attempt to discharge an air conditioning system at home.

If the air coming out of the vents smells stale or musty, then it’s probably caused by a build-up of bacteria in the system. The air-con systems in modern cars have lots of areas where bacteria can accumulate in. We have a specialist Air Conditioning Steriliser and Deodoriser treatment that we can use to eliminate the bacteria and with it the smell.
To prevent this from happening again in the future, you will need to change the cabin filter regularly and make sure you are using your air-conditioning regularly, even in the winter! Many people don’t realise that they can use warm air from the air conditioning system to demist the windows. The air coming out of the vents is dry, so the air-con system acts as a dehumidifier.

If the weather is hot and you have been using the air conditioning, then it is quite normal to have a small puddle of water under your car so don’t panic!
During hot weather, your air-con compressor has to work twice as hard; it can get very cold and actually freeze over as it sucks the moisture out of the car. So as soon as you switch off the air-con when you get out of the car, the ice that has formed on the surface starts to melt and drips on to the floor.
This puddle of water can be quite a concern but as long as it is odourless water then is should be nothing to worry about. If it has a smell or is the colour of coolant then it could be something more serious.


Tyres need a certain depth of tread for the vehicle to pass its annual MOT.
There is no need to wait until the MOT is due to find out whether your tyres will pass, as our technicians can tell you and recommend a solution.