/ 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.


I hope the present arrangements are maintained. I would like to see a lower MOT fee for a pass than a fail, as an incentive to keep vehicles in a safe condition.

Anyone driving on tyres that can easily be seen to be illegal should not be driving. Anyone careless enough not to check their tyres may be driving a vehicle with other defects. The owner should be required to have an MOT inspection, even if it has a valid MOT certificate.

I think above 100000 miles, it should be every year, but once every 2 years for cars up to that point makes sense to me.
If there is an issue with tyres, that is down to the driver. Its difficult to tell with tyres though as the grip degrades slowly over time making it less noticeable.

Stewart says:
15 April 2011

100000 miles means nothing, I have seen cars with defects on their first MOT with as little as 9000 miles!
Its all about chance a car can go out the show room brand new and hit a pot hole end up with a bulge in the inside wall of the tyre from day one, without knowlege a driver could be caught out therefore a yearly MOT is best and Id say every year from when its registered.

I’m equally disgusted with the fact this has risen it’s ugly head again.

MOT should be annually – far too many drivers drive unsafe cars – whether through neglect or ignorance or irresponsibility is immaterial – they do. It could be tyres – engine – or bodywork – they do.

The MOT ensures that a car is inspected every year and all relevant points are inspected.

I’ll give you an example – my car failed it’s MOT because the rear springs had broken – These had no difference to the handling or sounds or speed (though I’m a consistent law abiding driver) – but they were potentially dangerous. The car had passed it’s test the year before.

I had no idea – because I do not lie on my stomach to inspect the suspension at any time – nor do any drivers I know – they go to the garage if there is a knock or noise – or if they need an MOT.

Keep the annual MOT!! Tyres are a distraction – driving on bald tyres is illegal and easily inspected by the driver – who should inspect them before every journey anyway.

I believe MOT’s should remain an annual event, however I did sent to ACPO, NPIA and the Department of Transport a fully worked plan that whenever a car is sold in th UK, the transaction should take place at a MOT station, and for a fixed fee of £95, the car is inspected, the ID of the seller and the buyer are checked, this was in response to a case in Bow where a man was killed when selling his car.

This would maintain the register of ownership, ensure the car is safe, and protect both buyer and seller. It would also make sure the buyer has insurance for the car.

Phil says:
12 April 2011

A car can easily deteriorate from a pass to being dangerous in a year, extend the MoT to two years and the number of dangerous vehicles on the road is bound to increase. Currently the number of accidents caused by mechanical failure is small which suggests the system is working, let’s leave it that way.

Jim says:
12 April 2011

How can the government possibly justify a small cash saving for motorists at the risk of road safety?

With the first time fail rate for three year old cars currently sitting around 43% where is the sense in allowing these un-roadworthy and potentially unsafe vehicles to run about for a further year during which their condition can only deteriorate further?

I’m sure it makes sense to a vote hungry politician to allow motorists to save £54 every second year by not paying for an MOT every year since the government will make it’s money back in fines for drivers using vehicles in an unfit condition.

I have two cars and two motorcycles which I have to MOT every year and I’d rather pay the money knowing the other vehicles on the road get examined at least once a year than save a few pounds and be at risk from drivers who can’t tell a brake lamp from a windscreen wiper.

This idea has surfaced before and has always been beaten on road safety grounds, let’s hope we can beat the penny pinching vote grabbing politicians at bay and maintain our good road safety record that many other countries aspire to.

Eddie Reynolds says:
12 April 2011

Just when most of the rusty old bangers are gone, some out of touch politician wants to ‘turn the clock back’ in every way. Some owners ignore routine servicing to save money, but the MOT forces an annual inspection on the owners which reveals the bald tyres, worn brake pads, clapped out suspension and steering joints due to potholes. Some drivers do 50,000 per year, so it could be 100,000 between the suggested two year MOT checks – scary stuff, and this is to save the motorist money? How about instead, the politicians cut the eye watering tax on fuel – to save us money!
Pigs will fly first!

Hi Eddie, thanks for your comment – we’ve made it the ‘comment of the week’ on our homepage this week! 🙂

As Eddie points out, some vehicles cover very large annual milages and obviously need to be inspected frequently. Rather than cutting the tax on fuel we need to address the problem that it is environmentally unsustainable to have anyone driving large distances.

john says:
13 April 2011

I agree with the proposed bi-annual MOT.

We have to retract from the monster “nanny state” that the UK’s health and safety clan has created

Ted says:
14 April 2011

I endorse the 2 yearly MOT.
Currently, the only persons to benefit from the annual MOT are unscrupulous garage owners who fail perfectly good cars in order to generate revenue.

Phil says:
15 April 2011

Currently, the only persons to benefit from the annual MOT are unscrupulous garage owners who fail perfectly good cars in order to generate revenue.

An of course they’d stop doing that if the MoT was bi-annual…

Michelle says:
15 April 2011

Not all garages are unscrupulous, the next time you need a garage maybe you should go to the Motorcodes website where you will find a list of the good guys in your area. As for MOT’s being carried out every two years ! We own a garage and we carry out MOT’s and judgeing by the state some people get their cars in one year I would hate to think of all the death traps on the road if it went for two. Would you want to compromise your safety for the sake of £40.00 a year (this is the cost of our mot’s) I know I wouldnt. Do the goverment really think this would be a geture to motorists I Dont think so, more of an insult.

Frank says:
15 April 2011

Not only can you go to Motorcodes, you can check out Which?Local like I did. I found a place I could walk to with some really good feedback!


I would tend to agree with reducing MOTs, indeed I would scrap them completely. What I would do is legislate for every car to have a specified ‘service’ each year where, for instance, wheels are actually removed to check on the condition of brakes rather than just a ‘Yes’ tick box to say that on 14th March 2011 they worked. The service could include checks on certain safety areas and would help to cut emmissions (ie replace worn out plugs). This would actually cost more but would be of greater benefit, and those of us who care have this done anyway.

Andrew Lindsey says:
15 April 2011

My father-in-law´s car was given a new MOT every year, inspite of it being clapped out, and in spite of pleas by us for it to be given a thorough test. It is certainly not the only one, judging by some of the vehicles we see on British roads.

In Spain, a car has its first test after two years, then every two years after. It seems to work.

I think we should retain the annual MOT test.

Firstly, though I confess I do not have access to the data, I’m pretty sure most cars fail on faults relating to tyres and lights. This has little to do with age and much to do with driver attitude.

Secondly, we cannot know how many drivers get faults fixed immediately prior to an MOT, faults that wouldn’t get fixed if there were no MOT due. How many drivers ‘put off’ replacing worn tyres until their MOT is due?

joan ballard says:
15 April 2011

In Spain MOTs are every 2 years until the car is 10 years old and then it’s every year. I think it works very well and a sticker is put on the windscreen to indicate the next due date. ( instantly
identifiing cars without an MOT ).Modern cars seem to need less mechanical attention and motorists deserve one less restriction and expense .

Stewart says:
15 April 2011

Most countries abroad have a visual indicator of MOT but it still was only valid on the day it was tested!
We do have a visual sign to an extent as you cannot buy a tax disc without an mot or insurance.

David B says:
15 April 2011

Absolutely opposed to weakening the MoT regime!

Nobody ‘enjoys’ the cost of an MoT, any more than they ‘enjoy’ a visit to the dentist. However the cost of an MoT is miniscule in relation to the annual cost of fuel and at least it makes recalcitrant owners attend to their cars once a year.

Unscrupulous garages are a problem of course, but there are quite a few MoT-only places around which side-steps that issue.

I’d rather pay up and know that the majority of cars I share the road with have been checked and are safe.

Nicholas Fokias says:
15 April 2011

The French do it every 2 years with their “control technique” but with this difference-all control technique centres do not conduct repairs- so removing a vested interest in “failure”.I have just submitted my english car for an MOT which failed on work done just a year and 4000 miles previously by the same garage.The reason given by the garage was that I hadn’t done enough mileage.When I challenged this they said they’d take another look but were sure that with a clean-up of the offending parts it would pass on re-application.It did, but it cost me over £60 for the labour and parts for cleaning.A clear case of vested interest? I think so. That’s what needs to be changed-MOT Test Centres from garages that do repairs.

I’m sorry Dave raised the ugly head of excessive and illiberal regulations.

As several have stated out all cars age and with age the probability of faults grow. The ageing effect is dependent on usage. I use public transport whenever possible so only drive 6,000 miles a year. The average mileage is 15,000 a year. some drive double that – 30,000 a year. MOT’s should be by mileage. Every 30,000 miles up to 100,000 miles and after that every 15,000 miles

The greater risk on our roads is uninsured cars which are probably not MOT’d, or even taxed.All cars should carry a windscreen Insurance and MOT disk like the tax disk. Cars without should be impounded and if not claimed after 4 weeks then sold or crushed. Licence that to an agency other than the police to free the police to problems that require police work.

Is that worth a WHICH? campaign?

Mowerv says:
15 April 2011

I can only assume the people who propose the status quo or every year are either MOT inspection garages or Gouvernment employees trying to boost the treasury coffers. Please explain how we can be in Europe but in France the tests are every two years. The vehicles we drive are probably manufactured with the same components and from the same production lines. Come on…give the motorist some responsibility for having his vehicle serviced reqularly….being aware of its condition and checking tyres etc, which lets face it is the major failure. Every 2 years is good after three years. Vehicles are a lot safer nowadays with the modern technology providing you keep them from boy racers.

1) Does the MOT “boost the treasury coffers”? I think not. Would this Government be doing this if it cost the Government money? I think not!

2) In France the “tests are every two years”. But… In France the accident rate is considerably higher. Coincidence?

No Mowerv. Some of those who want to maintain the status quo simply want to avoid people being killed or injured as a result of defective vehicles being used on our roads.

Roy P says:
15 April 2011

There are some interesting posts, I personally like the idea of including MOT type checks whilst an annual service is carried out, and (as in Spain) a sticker displayed to prove this has been done. If this was made compulsory, garages would not lose any income. but until this type of scheme is implemented (if ever) the annual MOT should stay in place..there are still some dangerous vehicles and/or drivers on our roads, so leaving the tests to two years is foolhardy. If this scheme is used (I sincerely hope not!) I will probably get an MOT every year for my car, regardless. Having driven HGV’s during my working life..don’t say they (in their wisdom) will include these vehicles, now that would be madness!!

I’m all for a 2 year test I do less than 3000 miles a year and its in the garage the rest of the time. The police have the power to do roadside checks on vehicles to check their road worthiness at any time and you can get fined quite a bid if your vehicle is unroadworthy. If you know of anyone who drives a defective the police are only a phone call away.

Chilternphil says:
15 April 2011

I am responsible for my car and for its effects on other people. I have a responsibility to myself and society. The MOT warrants nothing as soon as it is done and the car leaves the testing station – read the small print. Of course I have it done, with the annual service, but it seems to me another tax rather than a safety aid.

As an absurd argument for those who say 24 months MOT cycle would increase deaths, why not save more lives by testing every six months, or three months, or weekly…? See I said it was a stupid argument. (what is SO special to human beings about 365 1/4 days?) Cars have got more reliable; people are just the same as they ever were.

Yes I think there should be testing but lets have a rational debate about the timing, both initial and repetition rate – I’d feel happier if the car had to display its tax, MOT and Insurance to stop the numpties who drive without one or more.