How changes to the MOT could affect you

Blog post posted on 22/03/23 |

With many people currently struggling with the cost of living the thought of parting with more money can be a painful one. When it comes to our cars the costs are creeping up, everything from petrol prices, road tax, and normal wear, and tear, but could new government legislation on the future of the MOThelp save us money?  

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on potential changes to the MOT test. The main proposal includes pushing back the first test for new cars by one year. 

As it stands, brand-new cars in the UK require an initial MOT test when it becomes three-years-old, but the DfT launched a public consultation in January, as to whether this should be extended to four years. 

The proposed MOT options are: 

  1. No change, vehicles that currently require their first MOT at 3 years will continue to do so.
  2. Increase the date at which a first MOT is required 3 to 4 years.
  3. Increase the date at which a first MOT is required from 3 to 5 years.

The government’s preference is for option 1.  

So why the proposed change? 

IAM Roadsmart Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig says: “The DfT’s proposed changes seem to be linked to two things, one being Brexit because we can do things our own way now and MOTs was linked to EU Law, but secondly the cost-of-living crisis. The government see this as a way of saving drivers money because an MOT costs £50 to £60 these days so if you don’t have to pay that for an extra year then you have saved a little bit of money, however it’s a bit more complicated than that.” 

So, what is the reality of the proposed changes? 

“The reality is tens of thousands of vehicles do fail it’s MOT at 3 years and fail on things like brakes and tyres. That means for an extra year they could be out with illegal tyres, poor brakes, broken lights and unless they are stopped by the police which is increasingly unlikely these days, they won’t think about it until the 4th year when they must go for an MOT.  

Will it impact road safety figures? 

“Yes, as part of the government's consultation, they commissioned scientists to look at what it might mean for road safety. The 2017 consultation had a report in it dating from 2011, so no analysis has been done on the impact that MOTs have on road safety for a long time and that is overdue. That analysis shows that if you move to a 4-year MOT it’s predicted there will be one extra death a year and 10 extra serious casualties, so why would a government want to do something that they know could kill one and seriously injury more people?”  

Could there be an impact on clean air quality? 

“One of things that gets tested in an MOT is emissions. Badly serviced cars do fail at 3 years with poor emissions, so you have another year of a car running round emitting more than it should, which is obviously going to affect air quality. The consultation suggests that a 2-3% increase in failures could be expected based on emissions which will lead to poorer air quality.” 

Could the proposals also hit local garages in the pocket? 

“Increasing the date at which a first MOT is required, will mean that the 23,400 garages approved as MOT test stations in the UK will lose revenue. Garages would be further hit if people put off servicing which could results in more businesses closing. 

“As a road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart believes changing the time frame of when MOT tests are carried out is not needed, it isn’t supported by most drivers and will lead to more crashes due to mechanical failures, less consumer choice in garages and a reduction in air quality.”