Critics slam Budget changes to the MOT rules

Man performing MOT

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Motorists planning on buying a new car or motorcycle soon may not have to worry about arranging an MOT for four years after making their purchase.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his summer Budget that the Government would consult on extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars and motorcycles from three to four years. While most of us will heave a sigh of relief that if this change goes ahead it’ll mean one less thing to think about for another year, some commentators say delaying MOTs could result in steeper repair costs later on.


Safety risks

Opponents to the scheme argue that putting off essential maintenance costs for an extra year could not only prove costly in the future, but potentially may put motorists at risk if there is something wrong with their cars that they aren’t made aware of. Around one in five cars fails its first MOT at three years – so the proposed change would theoretically leave a lot of unroadworthy cars on the road. David Gerrans, managing director at warranty providers Warranty Direct, said: “Three years of age is generally a landmark age for a car.

In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out. “While adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to improving manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four-year mark. “Extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars from three to four years will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work for anything up to an extra year, potentially putting the driver and other motorists at risk.”

Rankled retailers

The proposed changes also haven’t gone down well with Retail Motor Industry Federation, the trade body which represents franchised car dealers, independent garages and petrol retailers. Director Stuart James said “The government seems to take the view that the MOT is a burden on motorists – we think that motorists deserve more credit than that. “Road safety is a priority for them and their families and they understand that roadworthiness testing of vehicle is an important part of making our roads among the safest in Europe.”

Braking bad

According to the RMI, even an average mileage car is significantly more likely to be driving on unsafe and worn tyres and brakes after four years compared to three. This means that any extension of MOT validity could see safety-related components such as shock absorbers fail, putting motorists at risk, especially in high-mileage cars.

Cautious welcome

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), said it gave a “cautious welcome” to Osborne’s proposed MOT changes, but believes there needs to be greater discussion on vehicle testing first. Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said; ““Cars are more reliable than ever, but extending the first MOT deadline could pose safety issues for cars that are doing high mileages and aren’t serviced regularly. “There could be a case for developing a time and mileage-based criteria for the first MOT.” This seems to make a lot of sense. After all, a car which is only used to make a few short journeys every now and then is surely far less likely to fail an MOT test than one which is heavily used for long daily commutes.

When will the changes happen?

No date has yet been given for the consultation to begin, and there is no set length of time that consultations take. According to the government website, they typically last for between two and 12 weeks, or sometimes longer depending on how contentious the issue involved is. Following consultation, a draft bill will be introduced into parliament. A bill only becomes an Act of Parliament and a law once it is given Royal Assent, so if MOTs are going to be delayed, it’s unlikely to happen until next year.

Vans excluded

Only motorbikes and cars will be affected by the MOT changes. Vans were excluded from the Chancellor’s speech, which is thought to be down to the fact they need more regular checks due to typically heavy use, and because they have a much lower first-time MOT pass rate than cars.

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