The MOT, which deems whether a vehicle is safe and roadworthy, has been in force since 1960, but the Government has suggested it is time for a change.
This week, a consultation to extend a car’s first MOT from three to four years ended, with the industry and drivers voicing their opposition to the revision.
But should the test even be based on a vehicle’s age at all? A new study says not, voting in favour for a switch to a mileage-based MOT.
MOT test changes opposed: The majority of driver are against plans to extend the first MOT test from the third year to the fourth year, according to two new studies
Would a mileage-based MOT be better?
Research by Allianz found that 51 per cent of people thought it was a bad idea to lengthen the time period of a car’s first MOT test from three to four years due to the implications for road safety.
Instead, a huge 82 per cent of the 1,000 drivers polled backed suggestions for the MOT test to be mileage based – similar to how service intervals are calculated for vehicles by carmakers.
Jonathan Dye, head of motor insurance at Allianz UK, said: ‘We believe the MOT helps reduce accidents because it focuses on making sure a vehicle is roadworthy and safe to be driven.
‘High mileage cars and commercial vehicles will be particularly at risk.
‘Servicing could mitigate some of the issues but it isn’t as robust as a legal requirement to maintain the vehicle in a roadworthy condition.’
While a mileage-only based MOT schedule could have its advantages, it would ultimately make policing the assessment very difficult for the DVSA.
It would also mean that vehicles not driven regularly could end up with dangerous consumable parts that have perished over time, such as the rubber compounds in tyres.
Allianz warned there could be dangerous ramifications for long-distance driving owners of newer vehicles
Why was the move from three to four years branded ‘dangerous’?
The Retail Motor Industry Federation suggested that there will be an additional 400,000 unroadworthy vehicles in use in the country if the Government gives the four-year proposal the green light, a move it says will save the nation’s drivers £100 million annually in test fees.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders branded the proposed 12-month delay as ‘dangerous’ – though it’s certainly an improvement on the 10-year time frame given before a car had to be tested for the first time when the MOT was introduced.
The automotive industry representative conducted a joint survey with YouGov to measure motorists opinion on the consultation, which could see a new car’s first MOT test come after 48 months from next year if upheld by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency.
More than three quarters of those polled on the proposals (76 per cent) wanted to keep the current initial test schedule at 36 months.
Of the 2.036 car owners quizzed, 83 per cent resisted the revision, saying the safety of their cars outweighed the £45 saving they could make.
More than two thirds (68 per cent) believed a 12-month delay to a car’s first MOT could could put themselves and other road users in danger – a concern the motor industry shares, the SMMT said.
It said new technology in cars – such as tyre pressure monitoring systems, lane departure warning and wet weather tyre performance – is making cars safer.
However, while these systems may help prevent or mitigate accidents, they ‘do not change the fundamental underlying operation of wear and tear products such as tyres and brakes, which continue to require regular checks and maintenance’.
Should the MOT be tougher?
The industry representative also cited DVSA research showing that 17 per cent of all cars taking their first MOT at three years fail to meet the minimum requirements.
With this in mind, the SMMT said it wanted to see the test become more stringent instead of more relaxed, backing additional scrutiny of diesel particulate filters to improve emissions performance and vehicle mileage in the fight against illegal clocking.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, ‘Extending the first test for cars from three to four years is not what consumers or industry want given the serious risk posed to road safety and vehicles’ environmental performance.
‘The latest vehicles are equipped with advanced safety systems but it is still critical that wear and tear items such as tyres and brakes are checked regularly and replaced.
‘We urge government to scrap its plans to change a test system that has played a vital role in making the UK’s roads among the safest in the world.’