Government backs away from extending new car MoT exemption to four years

Safety concerns prompt decision to stick with three-year MoT exemption on new cars following consultation

UK MoT tests could become less stringent

The period before a car’s first MoT in the UK will remain fixed at three years. The decision to stick with the current system has been announced, after ministers from the Department for Transport (DfT) opted against extending the MoT test exemption for new cars to four years.

A four-month consultation on whether a car should only have to be put through its first MoT after it turns four years old – rather than the current three-year limit – opened in January 2017. Public response to the idea was mixed at best, however, with 73 per cent of people saying they didn’t think the MoT should be extended.

New MoT failure categories announced

These results are hardly likely to come as a surprise to ministers: back in April last year, research by the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) produced near-identical results, with three quarters of respondents saying they wanted the three-year timeframe left in place.

Ministers initially argued that extending a car’s first MoT limit to four years would save motorists an extra £100 million a year in test fees, and also highlighted that 85 per cent of cars passed their first MoT.

• How to check your car's mileage and MoT history online

But that wasn’t enough to sway the thousands of people polled as part of the DfT’s consultation, with those claiming that the system should be left as is citing concerns over “safety critical components such as tyres and braking system components.”

A further DfT-commissioned poll found that when asked why they thought the test should be kept at three years, a staggering 92 per cent said their aversion to the change was due vehicle safety, or concern owners wouldn’t maintain their cars properly.

MoT test checklist: top tips for passing first time

Again, those findings are echoed by existing research, with the DfT’s own figures previously revealing the majority of vehicles failing their first MoT did so due to substandard tyres, brakes and lights – all safety-critical items.

Announcing the decision to leave the MoT test status quo, Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MoT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, welcomed the DfT's decision to stick with the three-year rule, saying: "Modern cars are more reliable than ever but the MOT test is often the first opportunity to check wear and tear items such as tyres, brakes and suspension, and it plays a crucial role in keeping the UK’s roads among the safest in the world.”

What do you think about the decision to sticj with a three-year wait for a first MoT? Let us know below...

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