Most Practical DVSA equipment to maintain roadworthiness

With the vision of safe drivers, safe vehicles and safer journeys, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced back in November 2018 a new policy around the maintenance of vehicles in the UK. Enforcing an increase in vehicle maintenance procedures.

With safety at the forefront of our mission at Everquip, we’ve collated the following and most practical equipment to advise and help you maintain roadworthiness.

Requirements set out by DVSA

Setting up a compliant and effective maintenance system for your vehicle is the ultimate goal. However, there are common failures that are highlighted during MOT & ATF tests. These are:

Here are the safety inspection criteria set out by DVSA, including testing frequency depending on the type of vehicle you are testing: 

  • Operating Conditions Frequency (in weeks) 
  • Lightly loaded vehicles – easy operating conditions. 6 – 13 
  • General Haulage – trunking. 5 – 10 
  • Arduous work – constant heavy loads. 4 – 8 
  • Off Road – difficult conditions. 4 
  • Vehicles 12 years or older. 6

What equipment should be in a safety inspection facility for commercial vehicles?

At all safety inspection facilities for commercial vehicles, the DVSA advise that there should be specific equipment. These include:

  • Undercover accommodation for the largest vehicle in the fleet.
  • Tools and equipment appropriate to the size and nature of the fleet.
  • An adequate under-vehicle inspection facility.
  • Adequate lighting.
  • Access to brake testing equipment.
  • Access to headlamp test equipment.
  • Access to emission testing equipment.
  • Access to steam or pressure under-vehicle washing facilities.
  • A safe working environment.

If an operator fails to maintain vehicles in a safe and roadworthy condition with the facilities provided the traffic commissioner may take regulatory action.’ 


Equipment do you need to safely inspect roadworthiness

Underside vehicle inspection: 

Underside vehicle inspections can be carried out with one of two pieces of key equipment:

Both vehicle lifts and inspection pits allow best practice when inspecting the underside of a commercial vehicle. Each item allows for clear room underneath the vehicle and offers the inspector of the vehicle a clear head height to comfortably and safely check the vehicle.

An inspection pit is most commonly the preferred method, these are used in the DVSA ATF testing facilities across the U.K – ATF inspection pits are also fitted with the below accessories to ensure commercial vehicles are checked thoroughly:

  • Lighting, Everquip use zone 2 lighting to H&S standard. This is to ensure the inspector can see clearly any visible signs of wear and tear on the underside of the commercial vehicle.
  • Play detectors, hydraulic operated play detectors turn the wheel to allow the inspector to check the steering and play of driving axles.
  • Pit Jacks, used to check the steering and play of axles much like the play detectors but are also useful if you’re using the facility for repairs, which allow wheels to be freed to changed.

Brake testing equipment: Brake testing is one of the key components to checking to see if a vehicle is safe. DVSA have said it is:

‘Strongly advised that a calibrated roller brake tester (RBT) is used at each safety inspection to measure individual brake performance and overall braking efficiencies for the vehicle or trailer.’

The most common and advised method of carrying out brake tests is a commercial brake tester (hyperlink to commercial brake tester page). The brake tester should carry out the following procedures: – Service brake – Secondary brake – Parking brake

A commercial brake tester is a set of rollers that act as a simulator for the wheels to turn, this allows the inspector to apply the brake to check the vehicle is able to stop correctly.

The commercial brake tester will use speed and force to denote if the wheels lock out – a lock out is seen as a good result, if the wheel doesn’t lock, it should then meet the brake efficiency set out by DVSA to achieve a pass.

Everquip’s commercial brake tester includes the DVSA database which calculates automatically if a vehicle has achieved a pass or fail result and operates from a PC with printer allowing test results to be stored and printed.

Not sure if a commercial brake tester is the right addition? We’ve gone into more depth in our blog ‘why a commercial brake tester is the best investment’.

Headlight testing equipment: 

Headlights are one of the two most common failures across the UK when commercial vehicles are tested during their MOT.

Headlight testers come in two versions:

  1. Manual headlight tester
  2. Electronic headlight tester

Both versions are approved by the DVSA for use in the DVSA ATF testing facilities. Each version has the same method of install, they both run on rails which need to be level to +/- 2mm. If you have a drive through workshop the rails need to be recessed into the floor, to stop the rails from bending.

The electronic version uses the latest Bluetooth technology to send the results to the workshop PC and enables a printed report to be attached to the inspection sheet.

Emission testing equipment:

Emission testing for vehicles fall into two categories.

  1. Smoke test – for diesel vehicles.
  2. Gas test – for petrol vehicles.

As commercial vehicles run off Diesel engines, a smoke only emission tester is the correct equipment that needs to be used. The reason for an emission tester is to ensure the vehicle isn’t giving out more than the legal requirements of emissions in the U.K.

DVSA state ‘for vehicles showing signs of visible exhaust smoke, a diesel smoke meter should be used to ensure that the level of smoke emission is within the legal requirements.’

Therefore, it is not necessary to carry out an emission check on every vehicle during their safety inspection and is at the discretion of the inspector.

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