There have been articles in the media recently about changes to the MOT Test; a change from the first Test being due, currently set to be carried out after a vehicle is three years old and then subsequently every year, being changed to after a vehicle is four years and possibly five years old, and then every two years.
The rationale is that modern vehicles are manufactured with more inbuilt safety systems (including public safety, such as emissions) and warnings, giving the driver notice of safety items such as low tyre pressure and brake system malfunctions, prompting the conscientious driver to rectify safety-related defects as they occur, rather than wait for an annual MOT Test. Irrespective of any current MOT Test pass certificate, drivers are required by law to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition.
In terms of saving money for hard-pressed motorists, the argument is very weak – delaying the first MOT Test by one more year, from after three to after four years would save the motorist the cost of one year’s MOT (currently set at a maximum of £54.85). However the MOT fee is often discounted, so the saving would be even less. Set against that, leaving potential defects un-repaired for a further year would not only increase the likelihood of an accident, but result in a more expensive repair when the MOT eventually becomes due, because existing defects could trigger defects in other components, increasing the cost of repair.
An example of this is brake pad wear. A brake pad with very little friction material left would still function adequately, but if left for a year, would not only potentially cause a catastrophic accident, but even if it didn’t, would almost certainly result in badly scored brake discs – a significantly increased cost compared to merely replacing the brake pads.
Changes to the timing and frequency of the MOT Test (periodicity) have been proposed by various governments before, in our opinion merely to give the impression that the government is trying to help the motorist, and to please voters in times of inflation and increased costs of living. Transport Ministers have always pulled back in the past, when the governments own consultations have indicated an unacceptable rise in accidents, road deaths and road-accident related injuries.
Changing the periodicity of the MOT Test is being looked at again now on the basis that cars are inherently ‘safer’ and drivers can be relied upon to maintain them adequately for four or even five years before having a properly trained and qualified MOT technician, familiar with all aspects of vehicle safety and with up to £50,000 worth of vehicle Testing equipment and facilities at his disposal, inspect the vehicle. Motorist may be under the impression that a regular service means that their vehicle is safe to drive on the roads. That is not true – many safety related MOT Testable items are not included when a vehicle is serviced.
The link to the government consultation is here.
We’ll be looking into the consultation and reporting its full implications shortly, so keep an eye out on this website for further news.