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Should I be failing defective stop lamps?

Q. A trader presents cars for test with defective high level stop lamps. He makes no attempt to repair them but says the lamp is permanently disconnected – in the past I have ‘passed and advised’. He states that the lamp does not actually constitute part of the test and should be ignored.

The VOSA testing manual and the MOT testing guide seems slightly ambiguous on the subject of testing extra brake lights.

A. The inspection applies to all stop lamps fitted. When they all work either fully or in part, it’s easy – if more than 50% illuminates and is the right colour etc., it will meet the test requirement.

Most high level stop lamps are classed as ‘additional stop lamps’ – they are usually set in a rear window or a spoiler and are fitted with LEDs or multiple bulbs. If the lamp is connected, at least one LED or bulb should light up when the brake pedal is depressed. Failure to illuminate means either that the lamp is not connected or that it simply doesn’t work.

All lamps must meet the requirements to test, but to be considered a ‘lamp’ it must be fitted and connected. Taking each part separately:

• ‘fitted’ means that a lamp is present

• ‘connected’ means that wiring is permanently connected to the lamp.

A number of vehicle manufacturers have fitted, as standard, what appear to be high level stop lamps but are only a lens or lamp body. These ‘lamps’ are usually completely devoid of internals.

Before failing an additional stop lamp for not working, you must be able to prove – without dismantling – that the lamp is complete and the wiring to the lamp is connected. The manual states that: “Where extra lamps are fitted and there is doubt as to whether they are connected, the benefit of this doubt should be given to the presenter.”

Source: Matters of Testing

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