Safety gains should cut costs for fleet and general motorists

The time allowed for new cars before requiring an MOT could rise from three to four years, under new government proposals, a move that it is estimated could save up to 2.2 million drivers around £100m a year.

The proposals also mean that those who lease their new car are unlikely to ever have to pay for an MOT certificate during their contract, unless the term exceeds a four-year period.

Currently undergoing public consultation, the move would bring the UK in line with Northern Ireland and a number of European countries and could change as early as next year.

Why is the Government considering this?

The Department for Transport said safer technology and improved manufacturing meant new vehicles stayed roadworthy for longer.

New figures show the annual number of three and four-year-old cars involved in accidents where a vehicle defect was said to be a contributory factor fell from 155 in 2006 to just 57 in 2015.

The new proposals would also apply to motorcycles and could become law in less than 18 months.

Why do we have MOTs?

MOTs were first introduced in 1960 for vehicles more than 10 years old, with the exemption period dropping to three years in 1967.

Vehicles must currently undergo the test on the third anniversary of their registration and every 12 months once more than three years old.

Cars and motorcycles manufactured before 1960, goods vehicles powered by electricity and tractors do not, however, need an MOT.

What is checked during an MOT?

A number of parts are checked during the MOT test to ensure vehicles meet legal standards, including lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes, while emission levels are also examined.

More than 2.2 million cars each year require a first test, at a maximum cost of £54.85, with motorists facing a fine of up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

But it is also a legal requirement that vehicles are roadworthy, regardless of whether they have passed.

Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and MOT tests play an important role in ensuring the standard of vehicles on our roads.

“New vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago and so it is only right we bring the MOT test up to date to help save motorists money where we can.”

AA survey results

In November last year, a poll for the AA of more than 19,000 drivers suggested 44% were in favour of MOTs after four years, while 26% were opposed, and a third did not have a view either way.

AA president Edmund King said: “The benefits are that there will be cost and time savings for drivers, whilst the downside is that we are likely to see some more cars with faulty tyres and lights slipping through the net.”