If MOTs become biennial, surely we’ll have to look after our own vehicles? Yet, modern cars are so complicated that maintenance is often out of our reach. Are we stuck between a rock and a hard place?
I’ve been thinking more and more about car maintenance over the past few weeks, especially since the suggestion that the MOT test schedule could be changed to two years, instead of being annual.
A biennial MOT would mean there’d be a greater demand on us to look after our cars in the interim between checks. But that isn’t a realistic expectation with the modern car of today.
The government’s idea to change the MOT schedule is centralised around reducing the financial burden for motorists. Those in favour may claim modern cars of the current era are comparatively much more reliable than they were 20 years ago.
However, in a previous Conversation, Dave Evans argued that changing this timetable could cause more accidents. Ultimately, there will be a higher number of non-roadworthy cars in the UK, resulting in an increase in the number of accidents and potential deaths on our roads.
Older cars easier to fathom
This might not have been the case if this change to the MOT test schedule was proposed 20 years ago, before new cars were riddled with electronic management systems.
In the early nineties, it was still feasible for an individual to carry out simple car maintenance procedures on their own cars. Engines were almost completely mechanical with very minimal electronic support and equipment like electric windows and heated seats were only available as perks. And, when it came to intelligent safety and entertainment systems, flying cars in The Jetsons was as good as it got.
That meant if something minor went wrong with your car, you had a fairly good chance of rectifying it yourself with a trusted tool kit and a dog-eared Haynes manual.
Home servicing isn’t a money-saver
Now I’d be surprised if anyone even buys Haynes manuals anymore, because modern cars have become so advanced that many owners are genuinely unable to carry out any home servicing at all.
I discovered this only a few weeks ago when one of the cars in the family fleet needed a headlight bulb replacing. What would have been a simple procedure in the past turned into a swear-fuelled puzzle that even our local car mechanic couldn’t solve.
So surely the government can’t be expecting us to be maintaining our cars in the 24-month periods between MOT tests if simple maintenance tasks are beyond the majority of us? In fairness, most people can’t even tell if their tyres are illegal or not now that we’ve become so reliant on car dealers and mechanics.
But if you ask me, we’re not to blame. Carmakers have made the mechanics of the vehicles we buy today so complicated and reliant on electrics that it’s positioned car maintenance out of reach of the everyday car driver.
So if the two-year MOT schedule is approved, should manufacturers make cars simpler for us, or will that put unbearable limitations on car safety?