/ Motoring

MOTs every two years would be a safety disaster

Mechanic working on car

Latest attempts to revive a proposal to change the MOT rules to every two years might sound great in theory but how will it work in practise? Personally, I’m disappointed that the plan has reared its ugly head again.

The proposal would mean new cars won’t be tested until they are four years old, with subsequent tests every two years (instead of after three years, then once a year).

I’d hoped this proposal, resurrected by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, had been buried forever.

In fact, I’m beginning to suspect this idea is simply re-launched every now and again when the powers that be want to distract us from something else they’re doing (though at the moment, I haven’t spotted what that might be).

MOTs are a must

Besides a small apparent financial saving for each motorist, I can’t see how the proposal will benefit anyone.

It’s certain to lead to a reduction in the safety of UK cars, many of which are only subjected to safety checks because the owner is legally required to get the MOT.

Changing the rules would mean that a safety fault could easily go undetected for twice as long before it is found. And the potential for an in-service failure must be higher too – which could be catastrophic for safety systems like the brakes, steering or tyres.

Reject this proposal

We know from Which? research that many owners neglect their cars as it is. Fewer than half those questioned in our last tyre survey knew the legal minimum tread depth, and more than a quarter relied on the garage checking tyre condition at the annual MOT and service to tell them when their tyres were illegal. And this doesn’t even consider other less visible parts of the car which might go unchecked.

So, here’s my call out to all responsible citizens… reject this proposal as an irresponsible and retrograde step and help keep all UK road-users safe.

Tony T says:
16 April 2011

Maybe a compromise is required, possibly testing every 18 months. I,m sure we are continually ripped off by unscrupulous garages at present and the suggestion of having test centres that do not carry out repairs sounds a good idea.
Also, if testing on the continent is every 2 years we should be looking into extending our test period.
On balance I am in favour of extending but why does it have to be 1 or 2 years, why can’t it be 18 months?


“MOTs every two years would be a safety disaster”
I disagree, I don’t think it would be a disaster at all.
The current annual MOT is simply a single snapshot of the road safety qualities of a vehicle. I’m a qualified engineer and every year I hate having a car I personally maintain “checked over” by someone simply following a generic check list and who is often not particularly able or qualified.
A car does not need an MOT until three years old anyway. Modern cars are much better engineered that in days gone by. Old cars nowadays are usually owned by enthusiasts who lovingly maintain them to a standard well in excess of that back in the days when they were everyday cars.

The current “snapshot MOT” is not really any reflection of car safety except on that day anyway. “Temporarily” changing wheels, changing many components is fairly easy if you just want a “ticket”. The only really relevant part of the inspection is structural integrety (rust, bad repairs or evidence of cut and shut) and a two year test will still find this. Emissions can and will vary almost day to day especially on Diesels. Take a Diesel for a long run before an MOT and it will nine times out of ten pass the emissions test, go on to run short trips every day and for the rest of the year and emissions would probably not meet test pass levels. How is that meaningfull?

If we were looking at cars of thirty years ago or more in everyday use then yes an annual test, even though the nature of the test does little to guarentee road safety except on the day. Today however the technology of auto design, the materials used and consistency of manufacture make a two year test quite feasable and practical.

I would consider opposition to a two year test an overreaction, and probably an overreaction mostly from those least practically qualified or able to credibly comment on the matter.


A standard charge for mot’s should be brought in as most garages make unsubstantiated claims that you need xyz doing to your car. When in fact you probably do not. At a recent mot I was informed that a light bulb was out despite me having checked before hand that they were fully functional. They replaced it without my consent, or informing me of the additional charge, and despite the fact that there was a full set in my boot and therefore the cost of a replacement was not warranted. I can understand why they adopt this attitude but to be charged £7.50 for somethimg that I could have provided. I should have been told and informed before any work was done. This kind of practice should be reported but to whom. Needless to say I will not be going back there again.

Ian says:
16 April 2011

Agree totally about the light bulb “con”. I also have put cars in for an MOT only to be charged for light bulb replacement when none was needed.
Regarding MOTs only every 4 years, I had my Vauxhall Zafira in for its first ever service and overheard a “discussion” where another Zafira had failed its first MOT while still within the warranty period. The service “manager” was saying that it was all down to normal wear and tear and therefore not covered by the warranty! What would it have been like if it hadn’t been tested for another year?
I could go along with the concept of testing every 2 years,after all PSVs are tested every year from new, but I cannot bring myself to agree with the proposed changes.
PS I think I’ve now been put off Vauxhalls for life now.


Light bulbs do fail. I once checked my lights while waiting for my MOT and when the vehicle was tested with me watching I could see that one of the number plate lights had failed. In this case the problem was a corroded bulb holder rather than a blown bulb.

I can relate to dishonest practice. One garage failed my car because of two worn tyres and a hole in the rubber boot on a CV joint. The tyres were both legal (I had checked them the same day) and rubber boot did have a pin hole, probably made with a pin or other sharp object during the MOT test.

I now use a garage that I trust and my car always passes. I watch the job being done because it is reassuring to know that a thorough inspection is carried out.

Chris says:
16 April 2011

I think people should remember that the police can use OCR camera technology to check the validity of road tax, MoT, insurance etc. via their national database.
The issue should simply relate to road safety, would it improve if the testing period was extended?
Following this winter and cutbacks on highway maintenance many roads need reconstruction but will only get potholes patched. This will lead to more damaged vehicles on the road and the MoT is an valuable safety net for owners.

Frank Myerscough says:
16 April 2011

Keep the 12 months MOT but start later than 3 years for cars that were bought brand new.

PJ-London says:
16 April 2011

In Germany it’s every two years – and garages don’t do the testing – the test is done at ‘state’ run
testing stations, usually one in every big town. On certain days testing station staff may go to a garage to test vehicles – if the garage has the required equipment – on these days you can then have a service and ‘MOT’ at the same time.
It would seem to make sense to have a European standard.