The Government has recently launched a consultation asking for feedback on proposed changes to the annual MOT test. We provide some background about the MOT and look at what is being put forward.
What is an MOT?
The annual MOT test has been in place since the 1960s – named after the Government Ministry of Transport that launched it at the time. Its purpose has always been to assure that cars and other light vehicles meet roadworthiness standards. In recent years the MOT has been expanded to include tests that check a vehicle meets environmental standards.
An MOT involves over 30 checks on your car including on the brakes and fuel system, lights, mirrors, seatbelts, windscreen wipers and exhaust system. The health of the engine, clutch and gearbox however are not included in the test.
When is an MOT due?
For cars, vans and motorcycles registered in England, Scotland and Wales the first MOT test must be taken and passed 3 years after registration for the vehicle to remain on the road. The vehicle must then pass an MOT every year thereafter to remain roadworthy. In Northern Ireland the first MOT is taken 4 years after registration.
How can I receive MOT reminders?
By registering for free with Total Car Check you can add the vehicles you own or keep to your account. We will then send you reminders before your MOT is due. No sales pitch or marketing emails, only MOT reminders telling you when you need to book the vehicle in by. Our free initial check provides further information about your vehicle’s MOT and registration history.
What changes are being proposed to the MOT test?
The Government launched a consultation on 18 January requesting views on the following:
Extending the first MOT in Great Britain
Providing options for vehicles registered in England, Scotland and Wales to have their first MOT 4 or 5 years after registration, or keep the current 3 year period.
Testing every two years instead of annually
Government are asking for views separately on each type of vehicle.
Expanding the coverage/use of the MOT test
This includes a whole host of suggestions such as:
Practical approaches to testing levels of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions
A dangerous greenhouse gas and pollutant that combustion engine vehicles produce.
Introduce measures to help identify mileage fraud
The proposals consider whether the reporting of a vehicles’ mileage should not only take place at an MOT or service, but also afterwards. Government suggests this could make it easier to identify mileage issues with the vehicle.
Changes to accommodate self-driving vehicles
Many new vehicles contain technology which provide autonomous features. There are also new organisations and laws being introduced to provide a framework that will allow vehicles to be put in self-drive mode in the future. The Government is considering how these state of the art systems should be tested as part of the MOT process to ensure they are safe.
Collection of fuel/energy consumption data
This would not be part of the MOT test itself but Government sees the MOT as an opportunity to use garages to get a better understanding of the impact of vehicles on the environment. This could help provide Government with a new source of vehicle emissions data with which to track the UK’s net zero progress e.g. reducing net carbon emissions.
Introduce a noise pollution test
Currently these checks are subjective based on the judgement of MOT technicians. The Government are asking whether a standardised noise test can be included within the MOT.
Consider the disassembly of vehicles
With Government suggesting that if more stringent checks are included in an MOT then parts of vehicles, such as panels, would need to be removed and put back. They ask whether this is practical.
More checks for hybrid and electric vehicles
Such as emissions testing for hybrids and closer inspection and testing of batteries to ensure they don’t pose safety issues.
Communication of vehicle recall information
With proposals to share manufacturer recall notice information to garages when they carry out MOTs. The intention is to help identify if issues with vehicle’s are associated with faults at the time they were manufactured.
Why are these MOT changes being proposed?
Government doesn’t see the need to conduct MOT tests as frequently because vehicles on the road today are deemed to be more reliable than ever before. But given current and future advancements in technology the Government feel that testing needs to cover new areas.
The UK, EU and other countries have introduced policies and strategies that make commitments towards future net zero carbon emission targets. This has led to a burgeoning global electric vehicle market and improvements to the reliability of combustion engine vehicles. There are also significant legal changes happening in the UK that will empower the use of self-driving cars. These vehicles will need to contain features that must work correctly to ensure safe mobility.
Inspiration behind changing the MOT frequency
The Covid-19 pandemic provided a test run for reducing the frequency of MOT tests. Government installed a ‘no MOT needed for 6 months’ policy in March 2020 to reduce the risk of Covid infection. Although the roads were obviously much quieter at that time, there were no significant statistics highlighting vehicle safety issues on the UK’s roads. The airing of this temporary policy was then tabled as a permanent proposal in 2022 by the Transport Secretary. A way to help drivers save money at a time when the cost of living crisis started gaining momentum.
How will the MOT changes impact?
If the first MOT is extended and MOT frequency changed then it will mean less testing needed over the life of your vehicle. Although this would save you the cost of an MOT every other year, you would still need to keep your vehicle serviced within ‘no MOT’ years to help keep it running well and safely. But stricter testing could mean a higher chance your vehicle will fail in future.
For garages the proposals are not helpful because it means they will potentially receive less income from MOT testing unless the status quo is maintained. There is a strong likelihood that there will be new requirements placed on garages as part of the testing process. This could require investment in new equipment, longer testing times and higher MOT prices in future.
The consultation will remain open to responses from the public, businesses and other organisations until 28 February 2023. A Government response will then be issued by the end of May 2023 outlining what changes to the MOT it plans to take forward. The changes that are put forward could take several years to be implemented into UK law.