Car MOT Manual 2012 onwards

Lamps, Reflectors and Electrical Equipment - 1.7 Headlamps

This inspection applies to all obligatory headlamps fitted.

Headlamps are not required to be fitted to vehicles used only during the hours of daylight, which are fitted with neither front nor rear position lamps, etc. See 1.1.A.

Vehicles equipped with High Intensity Discharge HID or LED dipped beam headlamps may be fitted with headlamp washers and a suspension or headlamp self levelling system.

Where such systems are fitted, they must work however, it is accepted that it may not be possible to readily determine the functioning of self levelling systems. In such cases, the benefit of the doubt must be given.

Headlamp washers may work in conjunction with the windscreen washers when the dipped beam headlamps are switched on or by a separate switch.

HID lamps may be identified by:
• taking a few seconds to reach full intensity
• having a bluish tinge to the light
• having an igniter module/inverter behind the headlamp
• having DCR marked on the headlamp lens.

HID headlamps use high voltage and extra care should be taken when inspecting these items.

Vehicles first used before 1 January 1931 are not required to be fitted with headlamps. However, if
optional headlamps are fitted:
• where one is fitted it must dip
• where two are fitted, either both must dip or one must dip and the other switches off.

Care must be taken to ensure that relatively large front lamps on old vehicles are headlamps and not merely position lamps.

A matched pair is a pair of lamps which:
• both emit light of substantially the same colour and intensity, and
• are both the same size and of such a shape that they are symmetrical to one another.

In a four-headlamp system the outer pair of headlamps need not emit the same colour light as the inner pair.

Buses first used before 1 October 1969 are only required to be fitted with one headlamp. Where two are fitted, neither the main or dipped beams are required to form matched pair.

Headlamp aim is covered by Section 1.8 of this Manual.

Tricycle and quadricycle requirements are detailed at Section 9.1.
Method of Inspection
1. Check the presence, security and operation of the headlamp switch.

2. Where HID or LED dipped beam headlamps are fitted, switch on the headlamps and check the operation of any headlamp levelling and cleaning devices fitted.

3. Check that the vehicle is securely fitted with obligatory headlamps, as follows:

• a matched pair of main beam headlamps, and
• a matched pair of dipped-beam headlamps

Note: Main and dipped-beam functions may be provided by a single pair of headlamps.

4. With the headlamps on, switch between dipped and main beams checking that:

a. each headlamp illuminates immediately it is switched to either dipped or main beam
b. either:

• all main beams are switched off by one switch dip switch leaving a matched pair of dipped-beams switched on, or
• the main beam headlamp reflectors are deflected by a drivers control, to make them dipped beams

c. on vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986, the tell-tale illuminates when main beam is selected.

5. Check that each obligatory headlamp: a. is in good working order

Note: Any adverse effects due to headlamp lens damage or deterioration can also be assessed on checking beam aim see 1.8.

A repaired lens must be assessed on its merits.
b. shows light of the correct colour
c. is not affected by the operation of any other lamp.

6. Check that a headlamp that is intended to be one of a matched pair, emits light of the same colour and is the same size or shape as its counterpart.
Reason for Rejection
1. A switch missing, insecure or faulty.

2. A headlamp levelling or cleaning device inoperative or otherwise obviously defective.

3. A missing, insecure or obviously incorrectly positioned obligatory headlamp.

Note: Class 3 vehicles may require only one headlamp see Section 9.1.

Note: The precise position of headlamps is not part of the inspection, but check visually that the lamps are at about the same height and the same distance from each side of the vehicle.

a. A headlamp does not operate immediately when selected on dipped or on main beam
b. operation of the dip switch does not:

• extinguish all main beam headlamps, and leave on at least one pair of dipped beam headlamps, or
• deflect the main beams to make them dipped beams.

c. the tell-tale does not illuminate when main beam is selected.

5. An obligatory headlamp:

a. inoperative, excessively damaged or deteriorated or has a product on the lens or light source so that the light output is well below that required to illuminate the road ahead
b. an obligatory headlamp shows light that is not substantially white or yellow
c. adversely affected by the operation of any other lamp.

6. An obligatory main or dipped beam headlamp intended to be a matched pair:

• do not emit light of the same colour
• are not the same size or shape.

Reproduced from the MOT Inspection Manual by kind permission of THE VEHICLE INSPECTORATE.

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