/ 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.

I dislike European Standards – they are often not fit for purpose.especially after seeing the appalling standards of cars and driving in the EU.. So I would like all European Countries to have an annual MOT test just like us.

I have to say that I have used MOT garages ever since MOT were introduced – I have never been cheated so I question why so many seem to use dishonest garages.- don’t they ask friends?

Now if every car had to have an annual service and the result passed to a central database – I’d have no problems. This in addition to the annual MOT inspection.

I want to drive the roads knowing no car over three years old I come close to has been passed as fit for the road within the last 365 days. Frankly it is bad enough being on the road with the over a million lousy useless incompetent irresponsible drivers with uninsured – unregistered – cars.

Martin says:
16 April 2011

Perhaps I am one of the lucky few to have found an honest garage but I have never had problems with the annual test and, call me naive, I find comfort in knowing every year that my car is safe to use (and I know that the MOT is not extensive but a minimum standard to be reached). I believe that the annual test should be retained to discourage boy racers and cheapskates from keeping deathtraps on the road but use government run MOT centres that only perform this test and have no connection with garages that carry out the repairs.

Annual? Every 2 years? Every 20,000 miles? Doesn’t matter, really, but cars do need to be checked. I’d rather have an independent check, even though I take good care of the car myself. The real issue is the garages that try to rip us off with unnecessary repairs – and spoil the reputation of the rest. My car (230,000 miles and counting) goes to the local Council Bin Lorry depot. They don’t do repairs but do give a fair MoT test every time. There’s a place like this in practically every town in the land.

Wirecutter says:
17 April 2011

The number of “One Eyed Monsters” that have been on the roads this winter, is an indication that the spacing between MOT’s needs to be REDUCED and not extended from it’s 52 weeks!
Also with the state of the roads in the UK the week on week damage to the suspension and tyres of the average car is getting to a silly level and with most drivers ignoring the early signs of trouble in the vague hope of saving money, the regular servicing of cars has vanished.

By “One Eyed Monsters” do you mean only one headlight?
If so get real, it’s a bulb, what do you do when a bulb fails in your kitchen, get the house surveyed?
As for roads and tyres, four nuts hold the wheel on and there are thousands of tyre specialists around. This is not justification for and MOT every ten minutes.
Real issues like steering, brakes and structural integrety are what count and a two year test on modern machinery would not compromise safety.

Eddie Reynolds says:
17 April 2011

This debate is rolling on and on – to lengthen the gap between MOT’s is logically a reduction in road safety and to argue that is saves the motorist money is as feeble an excuse as it can get.
My garage told me that headlights out of alignment is now very common due to the condition of our roads, so what is it doing the suspension, tyres and steering.
We don’t get a referendum on EU membership and nobody says much, but extend the MOT and the emails come pouring in – where are our priorities? Many cars never see a garage except when they are forced to have the annual MOT, so to take that away will IMPROVE road safety? Dream on!

Randall says:
17 April 2011

I have been a motor mechanic since 1970 and seen all the advances…”if it ain’t broke , don’t fix it” is the rule for private motorists, and it frightens me to have them approaching me on the other side of the road – hopefully – with limited ability and even less mechanical knowledge at speeds beyond their control, in a vehicle which may only have been fit for the purpose 12 months ago..please give my children and grandchildren a chance and leave the test at 12 months !

Safety and dubious garage charges are completely separate matters. Though the MoT checks the roadworthiness of the vehicle only on the day of the test, reducing the frequency of the test can only to lead to an increase in the number of unroadworthy cars on the roads and thus an increased safety risk.

The argument that garages may charge for unnecessary work is not a valid reason for not testing the safety of a car. You can always make it clear beforehand that no repairs are to be carried out unless the garage contacts you first and gains your consent. And if you think a garage was dishonest, find a different one next time, or use a test-only centre where they aren’t going to profit from any required repairs. (Or check Which? Local for a reputable garage!)

Sure, for car owners it may be cheaper and more convenient to have less frequent tests, but cost and convenience should not take precedence over safety.

it is human nature to distrust the honesty of garages that carry out MOT inspections, and the same applies to companies that recommend repair or replacement of gas appliances. In some cases there is carelessness and dishonesty (as Which? inspections of garages has highlighted) but MOT inspections have achieved a lot in keeping unsafe vehicles off the road.

I have usually been able to watch my car being tested and to discuss its condition with the person responsible for completing the paperwork. It is reassuring, and I understand enough about the MOT test to see that the job is being done thoroughly.

If you distrust garages you should use an independent MOT testing station if there is one locally and watch the test being carried out. If you don’t understand the MOT test, take along someone who does.

Those who carry out MOT tests are in the best position to judge how frequently the tests should be carried out.

We are sooo obsessed by safety, the cars we drive now are so much better equipped to deal with all the things mentioned in this thread. We are all driving way slower than ever before, despite owning cars that can drive faster than ever before. Why is this? because the majority of people are actually decent law abiding citizens?

This isn’t about defects, quality or safety, it’s about roadworthyness.

Seeing as that is subjective depending on who you speak to, why penalise the many in order to catch just a few?

I have owned many second hand cars over the years and I have NEVER had a car fail an MOT.
If your lights are out, you replace them, if your tyres are bald, you replace them. If the cops catch you with them, you’ll get fined anyway and will have to replace them (as they WILL check)

If we make the roads so safe that we can never have accidents, what is the point of insurance? I don’t want to live in an overtly “safe” world because that is not what life is about. I am 100% against draconian rules (like the 70mph motorway speed limit) in a world where they no longer appear to be proportionate.

Prior to retirement I spent 20+ years in the motor trade, bi-annual MOT’s in the current economic climate would be an unmitigated DISASTER. Those in favour should walk along a line of cars and see how many have illegal tyres. The rising costs of fuel, servicing and repairs force people into saving any way they can on running their car. This comment is NOT ****** but so many mums are second car owners, hubby has the company car, and as long as the car gets the offspring to school little else matters as servicing is VERY low on the priorities list. I would suggest a tier system dependant on vehicle age, first MOT after 2 years because modern cars tend to have higher mileages, then bi-annually until year 6 and annually after that. Traffic Police tend to worry more about speeding motorists than those with faults, Traffic Wardens could play a big part in checking cars with illegal tyres and advising the owner to have faulty tyres changed or face prosecution. FACT, faults on a car creep up on an only driver vehicle and they gradually adapt to them when potentially the vehicle could be a death trap, faulty shocks, brakes and steering being the major contributors.

Eddie Reynolds says:
18 April 2011

This debate just keeps crawling along with the same arguments being put forward.
It is very simple if you just look at it from a safety viewpoint. If the MOT routine check is extended, do you really think that this will make the roads safer? Where is the logic?
If the present system stops just one unsafe car being driven on our roads, how many will continue being unsafe for possibly another year before they are forced to have their MOT.
If you are not qualified to make an informed decision on car safety, why climb on your soapbox?

Graham Nicholson says:
19 April 2011

MOTs should be kept at 12 months, it is the only way that irresponsible drivers can be checked for tyres, defective steering etc. Even now many drivers ignore MOT, tax and insurance.

Derek Turner says:
21 April 2011

Having read very quickly the above comments
First i have been H G V fitter for 44 years and now retired,there are people who refuse to maintain there cars or trucks for that matter if you are all talking about bald tires and lights not working then
then that is some thing useful the traffic wardens should be doing As for M O T with the modem vehicles and technology that goes with it there is no reason why we should not have two year M O T
It works all over Europe Why not here.
I will tell you why the reason is V O S A are worried that most of the garages doing M O T work would go out of business because they have been given license’s to print money when they are allowed to do the work they failed your vehicles in a lot of cases very tribunal reasons indeed

Mark Ewenson says:
22 April 2011

This is the daftest idea i have ever heard. If there doing it to save motorests money then they should just cut the bloody fuel duty.

Ian Hodkinson says:
25 April 2011

Given the condition of some cars on the road under the current testing system, the Government’s plan would almost certainly cost lives.
The safety technology may have improved over the years but proper maintenance is still essential.

frank williamson says:
19 July 2014

when did they start to put stupid comments on the advisory
E.G 2003 mitsibushi l200,
vehicle structure has slight corrosion.
is it going to fall apart, did it fail ,NO, where is the corrosion .
comments like that are not required unless it is so bad that it warrants failure,