Transport: Charity’s fears over easing MoT rules

New research from the Institute of Advanced Motorists shows that 60 per cent of UK drivers think that a car’s first MoT should continue to be carried out after three years, while 29 per cent think we should move to a European system.

A new European Union directive sets down a minimum requirement for a vehicle roadworthiness test – the MOT – with the first test when the car is no more than four years old, and subsequent tests no more than two years apart. This is known as the four-two-two cycle. Most of Europe uses the directive’s minimum requirements of testing.

The UK has a more stringent cycle of testing – the first test when the car is three years old, followed by annual testing – a three-one-one cycle.

Despite this, 27 per cent of three year old cars in the UK fail their first MOT test. In France, where the test cycle is four-two-two, six per cent of cars fail the first test at four years old.

People are generally confident about the MOT test, with 63 per cent believing the test will always pick up potential dangers with the car or bike.

Thirty per cent believe garages are not independent enough to conduct MOTs, 26 per cent think that garages deliberately find things wrong in order to get money out of them, and 40 per cent think there is no consistency between garages in the way they do the test.

The IAM believes these concerns should be addressed through a review before the government considers any changes to MOT testing.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “In a time when people are struggling financially, the MOT seems to be one cost they are happy to pay. The IAM is wary of abandoning our well-established and accepted cycle of MOT testing. The poll suggests that most motorists are happy with it.

“But the question needs to be asked, why are so many cars in the UK failing at only three years, and why does France have a much better pass rate at four years?

“Before any change to the system, the government should commission a review to assure motorists that MOT tests are safe, reliable and consistent. The test should be for the benefit of road safety – not the garages that carry it out.”