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MOT rule shake-up could save UK drivers £100m a year

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

The Department for Transport is consulting on the future of MOTs, with one measure proposing to delay the requirement for a first MOT on a new car.

Views are being sought to update MOT testing for cars, motorbikes and vans to ensure roadworthiness checks continue to balance the costs for motorists while ensuring road safety, keeping up with advances in vehicle technology, and tackling vehicle emissions.

The Government said it wants to ensure “MOTs remain fit for the future” and is considering changing the date at which the first MOT for new light vehicles is required from three to four years. 

The average MOT costs £40 and the Department for Transport said the move could save motorists across the UK about £100m a year in MOT fees.

It pointed out that undertaking roadworthiness testing four years since the vehicle’s registration is already standard practice across many European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

‘Putting lives at risk’

However, the AA is opposing the move. Edmund King, AA president, said: “With one in 10 cars failing their first MOT, we strongly discourage the Government from extending a car’s first MOT to the fourth anniversary due to road safety concerns.

“When this proposal was last considered in 2017/18, the four-year policy did not obtain public support – with many citing concerns over vehicle safety as the main reason for opposing the move. We do not believe this to have changed over time. Safety items like tyres and brakes can often be deficient after three years.

“However, there are aspects of this consultation which we support, such as ensuring the MOT is fit for purpose for the new technology in vehicles.”

This is echoed by motoring group the RAC. Head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said while it is not opposed to delaying a new vehicle’s first MOT, “we believe there should be a requirement for particularly high mileage vehicles to be tested sooner”.

He said: “If the Government is looking to improve the MOT, now is the ideal time to take into account how much a vehicle is driven, alongside the number of years it’s been on the road.

“We’re also disappointed the Government is still entertaining the idea of increasing the time between MOTs. Our research clearly shows drivers don’t agree with this and believe it’s dangerous. It would also likely increase the number of unroadworthy vehicles on our roads – putting lives at risk – and not save drivers any money as they would likely end up with bigger repair bills as a result.”

Since the MOT was introduced in 1960 – and especially in recent years – there have been major developments in vehicle technology such as lane-assisted driving which have increased road safety, while the spread of electric and hybrid cars is rapidly changing the nature of vehicles on our roads, the Government said.

Lyes added: “Given the technological advances of driving aids in cars and the increasing adoption of electric vehicles, there is an argument that suggests the MOT will need to adapt accordingly in the future. Certainly, moves to check for faulty or removed diesel particulate filters will improve air quality by targeting dirty vehicles.”

Other measures will consider whether electric vehicles’ batteries should be tested to improve the safety and reliability of EVs; if additional measures should be introduced to tackle excessively loud engines, and how the DVSA can continue to crack down against MOT and mileage fraud.

Last year, the then transport secretary Grant Shapps reportedly raised the idea of requiring drivers to get an MOT on their car every two years instead of annually.

Related: Electric vehicle owners to pay ‘road tax’