What’s involved in a heavy vehicle test?

All drivers are familiar with MOTs – the mandatory annual tests that certify each vehicle is safe to use on British roads. The standards for an MOT pass are reasonably strict, so it makes sense that where the tests for HGVs are concerned, the standards are even stricter.

Given the size, weight and dangerous (or even deadly) potential of HGVs, their annual inspection is either carried out by VOSA, the Vehicle and Operator Standards Agency, or by a VOSA-accredited testing facility. Even the most well-equipped HGVs with cutting-edge vehicle safety technology aren’t exempt from this test, and it’s a little more in-depth than the daily checks that drivers must carry out themselves. Below, we take a look at what’s involved in a little more detail.

Here’s what’s checked in a heavy vehicle test

Before the test begins, the HGV is parked on a suitable hardstanding surface in the test centre. The inspection that follows is extremely thorough, covering the surface and structure of the vehicle, all the way down to the internal components in the driver’s cabin. Amongst the factors that the examiner will check on the HGV’s topside are:

  • The vehicle’s identity against the VTG6 Plate
  • All mirrors and fairings, which need to be securely fixed and in good condition
  • The driver and passenger doors, which should open smoothly and close securely
  • The tyres, which have to be in a satisfactory condition, and of the correct rating for the vehicle
  • The spray suppressors, which must be the right size for the HGV
  • Every light and indicator, including the indicators, repeaters, fog lights, and headlights, all of which should be fully operational and aligned correctly

lorry sunshine

Official guidelines state that most of these are factors that the drivers themselves should be checking on a regular basis anyway, so they’ll likely be nothing to worry about for most operators. The vehicle’s underside won’t escape notice, either. Examiners will check:

  • The steering
  • Foot brakes and air brakes
  • Axle alignment and bearings
  • Any potential oil or fuel leaks
  • Shaker plates

While they’re inspecting the HGV, examiners will also keep an eye out for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or developing mechanical faults, especially if they could prove a problem later on.

Heavy vehicle tests are changing as of Autumn 2019

Back in 2019, the DVSA announced they’re making some changes to the way the examine heavy vehicles, but thankfully it’s not something that drivers or fleet managers have to worry about, since nothing extra is required of them. Many of the changes involve updating the equipment of the examiners and officials, so that tests can be completed more quickly and efficiently.

The DVSA examiners will now be equipped with an official mobile and app, which speeds up the process as it allows them to consult and contribute data on the go, rather than collecting their findings and doing most of the legwork back at the office. They can capture information on their mobiles as they proceed through the test, and record any defects instantly. This results in more efficient processing, and faster certification for fleet managers and companies. The system is being gradually made available for some centres from autumn onwards, and the rollout will be complete by the end of spring next year (2020).

However, it’s worth remembering that the DVSA test is only meant to establish a basic standard of roadworthiness for your vehicle. Here at Vision Techniques, we stock a wide range of vehicle safety technology such as our StopSafe and BrakeSafe systems, designed to make life easier and safer for HGV drivers and other road users alike. Watch out for Eye Report, our new fleet management tool designed to make it even easier to report defects. It’s still in development but is coming very soon! Until then, feel free to browse our inventory right here on our site, or give our friendly sales team a call on 08458 684 858!