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Worrying comment in this months Car Mechanics magazine concerning LED headlights and the MOT test.

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"There have been a few revisions made to the MOT inspection manual in January.Problem was , current MOT testers weren't informed in the usuals way (by notification) of these updates . Since the last update in 2019 there are over 50 revisions to take on board.

Section 4 of the manual is lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment- its fair to say this gets a lot of attention. One of the added checks now required on each MOT is

Compliance with requirements

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.

The tester did, of course, check on conversions to HID before but the new added text is about fitment of LED bulbs into a halogen housing. As far as I'm aware this revision is for the headlamp bulb itself and won't affect any white LED sidelight bulb fitted to a car. However I'm unsure as to insurance companies views on fitting LED sidelights."

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More bloody stupid rules for the sake of rules. Beam pattern is what matters not technical details of the source. Typical shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Plenty of decent LED units that give the right beam pattern around now. Bad ones were an automatic fail before anyway.

Looks as if I ever get round to fitting the pair of LED headlamp bulbs I got a while back I shall have to invest in a beam setter, or, more likely "Clives cheap field expedient equivalent", so I can do swopsies before the MOT.

Clive

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That's a new one, para 4.1.4 in the manual https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mot-inspection-manual-for-private-passenger-and-light-commercial-vehicles/4-lamps-reflectors-and-electrical-equipment. It used to say that you could convert to HID or LED as long as the beam pattern was correct, headlamp washers and wipers were fitted and the car had self levelling suspension or lights. So on a higher spec P38 with the headlamp wash wipe you were OK if you got decent LED bulbs and not the crappy Chinese ones that threw light around everywhere. I suspect they've had to fail so many where LEDs have been fitted to cars that don't have self levelling or the cheapo ones have been used so the beam pattern is wrong (and impossible to get right as on the pair that I tried) that they've decided to make it easy and fail the lot.

I wonder how they will differentiate on things like the modern Mercs that have LED on the higher spec cars or as an option on lower spec ones that ordinarily would have halogen?

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Like other countries have already, everything depends on the original homologation certificate for that vehicle (and they DO have and it is available upon request ...).
So if OEM is LED or Xenon, you can replace them as usual.
If halogen -> stick to halogen.
If you want to convert, if you need to obtain a manufacturer's homologation certificate, or pass a technical inspection where manufacturer's data will be reviewed, or an independent technical body that can authorize the modification (like TUV or Dekra in Germany and Austria).
These norms are standard in most countries (that I know for sure: Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria).
You guys in the Island have always had a ... unusual approach to these.

That does not remove the fact that probably if the modification is done right, you will be rarely harassed ... I've done over 35k km in the last three years across southern europe with my tri-xenon mod on my A6's headlights, and never an issue whatsoever. And like me, many others ... countless of them :-)

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Over here, as long as a modification doesn't make the car less safe to you or others, then it is OK. With regard to changing headlight bulbs, so many of the cheap Chinese bulbs simply can't be set to give a proper cut off when dipped so are a danger to other road users and I suspect that is why they have taken the blanket approach of just saying if it never had them before it can't have them now. Some things can't be changed, for instance, if a car was fitted with cats when new, it has to have them to pass the test, even if it can pass the emissions test.

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Over here, as long as a modification doesn't make the car less safe to you or others, then it is OK.

This is a very civilized and smart thinking. Unfortunately, most lesser countries - especially European - have decided that the only one empowered to believe how much of an improvement to safety is the manufacturer. This is, if he allows such mod by issuing a specific certificate, then you can validate the mod, otherwise it is "illegal". Now there are some workarounds in the form of independent bodies (such as the TUV I've mentioned above), but not always avaialble in all countries.
As a tinkerer of cars since early age, I have been battling against this backwards mentality since I have memory (over 20 years now), and I see no improvement whatsoever in this mindset.
Approach in later years is I don't care any longer, and I am ready to argument that technically. Luckily for me, I am off the hook, or so it seems .... :-)

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I was aware of the TUV requirements and also the problems with registering a modified vehicle in other countries (Spain and France being the two I'm familiar with). Two people have tried to register LPG converted vehicles in France and Spain and been told that as the LPG conversion was not done by the manufacturer, it had to be completely removed before the car would pass the test. Here, as long as the conversion has been done properly and the car can pass the MoT test and is over 10 years old, then it isn't a problem. Some things that are a problem are rigidly fixed, metal, bull bars for instance, as they make the car less safe to pedestrians when you drive into them, hence the squashy plastic ones.

I noticed the TUV approval system when looking for a replacement exhaust for my partners Merc SLK 280 (3 litre V6 engine). When the time comes, she wants something with a bit more growl to it when she gives it some throttle. I found a German company that do 3 different aftermarket exhaust systems, two are TUV approved but the performance one isn't and is marked as for export only. As long as it retains the cats, is secure, doesn't leak and isn't excessively noisy, then it would pass here irrespective of who made it. I got an MoT pass on a 1340cc Harley Davidson motorcycle (horrible thing to ride but that's a different story) fitted with straight through pipes, no silencing at all. The regulations say that "that the noise emitted from the motorcycle is not clearly unreasonably above the level expected from a similar motorcycle with a standard silencer in average condition" and, as some Harleys came with open pipes as standard, it was not above the level you would expect. It was bloody noisy though......