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Rules and regulations

Article by Colin Sutton Nov 1999


Wings or other fittings must catch mud or water thrown up by the rotation of the wheels. (I always wondered about 1275GTs with 12 inch wheels - clearly contravened this in my view).


Loads of complicated technical information, but the important features are:
You need a separate handbrake, independent of the service (hydraulic) system, which can be set when the car is unattended.


All parts of a motor vehicle or trailer must be in such a condition not to be likely to cause danger or injury to persons in the vehicle or using the road. This is the 'catch-all' rule often referred to as 'Dangerous Condition'. From the Mini point of view it includes old chestnuts like no bumpers, exposing the valence seams, and fitting a flip-front without strengthening bars.


Petrol tanks on vehicles first used on or after 1st July 1973 must be made of metal. If the car is required to run on unleaded (see below) then the tank must have its filler restricted so it cannot be readily filled by a nozzle with a diameter greater than 23.6mm (i.e. an unleaded pump) unless it has no catalyst which would be damaged by leaded fuel and an 'Unleaded' sticker near the filler.

Vehicles which are required to be designed to run on unleaded are those:
First used before 1st April 1992 if their engine is under 1400cc; or,
First used before 1st April 1994 if between 1401 - 2000cc.
I couldn't find a date yet for engines > 2000cc - but this won't affect any Minis, will it?


If your car was first used on a road on or after 1st August 1973 the horn must be of a continuous tone (no Colonel Bogey, etc.) and "not strident" whatever that means. You are exempt from this if the two-tone horns are to tell people you've got something to sell. (I mention this because I know Mini ice-cream vans do exist.) If your car is older you can presumably be as strident as you like.

Alarms can also give out any sound, but if fitted to a car first used on the road on or after 1st October 1982, the alarm must switch off after five minutes of operation.

Horns must not be used when stationary on any road (unless to avert danger from another moving vehicle nearby); or between 11.30 pm and 7.00 am on a road with streetlamps less than 200 yards apart (unless to avert danger to any other person using the road).


No mascot, emblem or other ornament may be carried anywhere it is likely to cause injury to a person with whom the car may collide.


Vehicles first used on the road on or after 1st June 1978 must have an external mirror on the offside and an internal mirror. If the internal mirror would not provide an adequate view (e.g. van with no rear windows) then it must be replaced by an external mirror on the nearside.

If first used before this date, cars need one mirror giving a rear view (internal or external). 'Dual-purpose vehicles' (estates) or vans need one external (offside) and one internal, or two external

I don't think there is any date after which 2 external mirrors were required, but my research continues.


It is an offence for any person (driver or passenger) to open a vehicle door on a road so as to injure or endanger any person.


Police rarely give tickets for yellow lines nowadays (but beware Red Routes in London, which are enforced rigorously). In some towns council wardens have no power to deal with yellow lines, just pay-and-display or meter bays - if so, you are much less likely to get a ticket on yellow lines than if you run out of meter/ticket time in a bay, as council wardens outnumber traditional ones by about 5 to 1. It is worth checking who does what in your area.

Police will though deal with offences of 'unnecessary obstruction' (if you cause a blockage even where there are no lines) and 'dangerous position' - for example if you park so close to a junction that other drivers can't see to emerge safely into another road.

Always bear in mind that in law there is no right to park anywhere on the public road - even outside your own house - so if you are causing obstruction you risk a ticket. Incredible, perhaps, but strictly true!

When parked unattended, the handbrake must be set and the engine switched off.


It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle backwards on a road further than necessary for safety or reasonable convenience. (Guilty, your worship, on many occasions - but always my navigator's fault).


Front - Cars first registered after 1st October 1965
Rear - Cars first used on or after 1st January 1987 (I think)
If you've got then fitted you must use them unless exempted. Driver responsible for passengers <14 years.


If your car was designed to be capable of more than 25 m.p.h. then you need a speedo. It has to be accurate to within 10% above 30 m.p.h. Also, if the car was first used on the road on or after 1st April 1984 then the speedo must read in both m.p.h. and k.p.h. - or be switchable fro one to the other. Do 'S' 130 speedos comply?


it is an offence to drive a vehicle on a road when you are in a position to view a television (including a computer screen) unless it is showing navigational information, vehicle instrument read-outs or the road close to the vehicle.


Must have mudguards on wheels, or rearmost wheels.
Must have brakes unless it weighs less than half of the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle.
Must not usually carry passengers.


Vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1980 must have the plate on a part "not normally subject to replacement" (is this why BL moved it from front panel to inner wing? Should have put it in the middle of the roof). Also a stamped or hammered VIN on the frame or chassis in a visible position (obviously "visible" as in under the rubber trim at the back of the bonnet aperture).


Driver must have a full view of the road and traffic ahead; all glass/transparent material must be free of obstruction of the driver's vision.
There are regulations specifying the British Standard that safety glass must reach, but nobody would put domestic glass in their Mini. Would they?


If you've got a windscreen then you need wipers and washers in good condition. unless your car was first registered before 1st January 1938 (I think - it is certainly a long time before Minis). (What about popping the screen out for the MoT if your washers are dodgy?) This doesn't apply though if you can get a decent view other than through the screen - like those 'Brooklands' aero screens. I guess.

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