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Keeping first MOT test at three years no-brainer

PUBLISHED: 14:55 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:55 19 January 2018

The first MOT test on cars will remain at three years. Picture: Shutterstock

The first MOT test on cars will remain at three years. Picture: Shutterstock

Shutterstock

So the government backed down on its bid to extend the first MOT on cars to four years this week. That’s a victory for common sense, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

In what is a victory for common sense, I was relieved to learn this week that the government has scrapped its plan to extend the first MOT test for cars from three to four years.

With so much emphasis on driving up road safety and motoring standards, an extra year before the initial MOT test seemed to me a worrying move in the wrong direction.

After a consultation period, a statement issued by the Department for Transport, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), and roads minister Jesse Norman on Thursday said ministers had “put road safety first” and decided to maintain the period before a car’s first MOT test at three years.

Car retailers, the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) had been among the first to criticise the government’s proposal, the prospect of a four-year gap raising concerns about road safety and the impact on aftersales business.

Stuart James, RMI director, said that, at the three-year period alone, the change would “see 400,000 unroadworthy cars on the road for another 12 months and no official mileage recorded until year four”.

He added: “This proposal would, without doubt, cost consumers more in repair costs, incentivise ‘clockers’ and be detrimental to the UK’s excellent road safety record for no particular gain.”

The government had suggested extending the initial MOT to four years would save drivers about £100m a year. Even so, fewer than half of people surveyed were in favour of it.

The statement said that “most of those responding to the consultation were against the proposals on safety grounds”, arguing that the savings to motorists were outweighed by the risk to road users by removing an opportunity for workshops to identify current or upcoming issues affecting the vehicle.

Yes, cars are built better, more reliable and much safer than 50 years ago when the MOT test was last changed but they are also more technically advanced, so more things going wrong, and service intervals can be up to two years – half a century ago they were six-monthly.

How many of you reading this can, hand on heart, say they do all the checks of fluid levels, tyre pressures and bulbs as regularly as recommended. Because cars are now so reliable, and need less maintenance, many people ignore them but they still suffer wear and tear.

The MOT test originally required vehicles to undergo a first check after 10 years when introduced in 1960 – it changed to three years in 1967.

In 2016 more than 2.4 million cars had their first MOT test – the pass rate was around 85pc and the most common reasons for failure included lighting, suspension, tyres, brakes and the driver’s view of the road which covers worn wipers and chipped and cracked screens.

Many of those first MOT failures were probably avoidable if the driver had checked the vehicle. It’s not the reliability of cars we need to worry about but that of the drivers.

Is it the right decision to keep the first MOT test at three years? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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