/ Motoring

Can we still rely on the MOT test?

The MOT test is designed to ensure cars on the road are safe and up to scratch. But two significant changes to the MOT test have me concerned, to the point where I feel its credibility is at risk.

It was announced this week that classic and historic cars, manufactured before 1960, will no longer have to pass an MOT test from 18 November 2012.

It’s all designed to save motorists money, according to the government.

When announcing the change, Roads Minister Mike Penning said:

‘Owners of classic cars and motorbikes tend to be enthusiasts who maintain their vehicles well – they don’t need to be told to look after them, they’re out there in all weathers checking the condition of the engine, tyres and bodywork.

‘Owners of classic vehicles will still be legally required to ensure that they are safe and in a proper condition to be on the road, but scrapping the MOT test for these vehicles will save motorists money.’

Can owners replicate MOT checks?

And while I agree that these vehicles do only make up a very small number of all licensed vehicles in Britain – 0.6% according to reports – I am still cautious about the lengths owners can realistically go to in an attempt to replicate the checks conducted in the MOT test.

For instance, how many classic car owners have access to garage-style ramps to allow for a proper inspection of the underside of the car? Not all of them, for sure.

And with MOTs costing £55 a go, is there really a huge financial benefit for the minority who own these cars?

Warning lights check delayed

And this isn’t the only enforced change to MOT rules for 2012, as we already debated back in January. The Malfunction Indication Lamp check (or MIL check), is a visual examination of whether your car dashboard’s warning lights are illuminated.

The check is conducted to see if the warning lights for electronic stability control, anti-lock braking systems, tyre pressure monitoring systems, brake fluid, electronic power steering, electronic steering lock and electronic power brake are permanently illuminated.

Initially introduced in January, for the first three months of 2012 any of these illuminated warning lights would have resulted in an advisory, and from 1 April an outright fail.

However, this deadline was not met, and if any of these warning lights are illuminated in your car, it will continue to pass as advisories.

When questioned why, VOSA (the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency that oversees the MOT test and regulations) told us it was because the legislation to introduce the new item was not yet in place. VOSA also said an exact date for when this will happen has not been confirmed, but it is expected to be by the end of June.

These changes, and the failure to implement the latter to schedule, have left me a little worried. I’d rather MOT changes were made to maintain the highest level of car and road safety, rather than to save (a minority) of drivers money. Let alone the fact that the new warning lights check could prove expensive to investigate problems that might not even exist…

Should pre-1960 cars be exempt from the MOT test?

No (71%, 402 Votes)

Yes (29%, 167 Votes)

Total Voters: 571

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I was forced to get rid of 2004 Ford Focus when I was denied an MOT certificate because of faulty warning lights (Airbag and ABS lights). My car was in daily use, never had an accident or let me down because of a breakdown. I took it to the local Ford dealer at first and subsequently to three specialist electricians. The exact cause was never identified but it was corrected ( or reset) on the first occasion, but only to recur a couple of weeks later. The others could neither identify nor fix the problem even with the help of a computerized Bosch diagnostic system. I was repeatedly assured the fault was in the warning lights circuit rather than the ABS or airbags, but with no MOT, I had no choice but to sell the car for spares.

This would not have happened if we were not subjected to the ill informed Directives from the European bureaucrats. My response so far has been to buy a car made in the Far East and Europe. As well as the long warranty, it should have more reliable electronics.
I am waiting now for the promised referendum!

Why blame the EU? The fault lies with the company that made your car or those that failed to identify and repair the faults.

If you were permitted to drive around with warning lights on, how would you know if a real fault developed? That would be crazy.

I think long warranties for all cars is the way forward. If manufacturers have to pay for repairs it is likely that the electronics they fit will suddenly become much more reliable.

Sorry, correction:

I meant Far east and NOT Europe.

Bruce says:
26 February 2013

Out here in Victoria Australia, classic, vintage and veteran vehicle (prior to a certain year) do not required a Roadworthy to gain a Vic Roads Club Registration Plate. Of course, they can be roadworthied however the legislation allows for an authorised Inspector (a club appointed and Vic Roads accepted) member to inspect the vehicle and authorise the issue of plates from Vic Roads.
The vehicle MUST be safe for use on a public road. It works. Many if not most vehicles prior to 1960 would not meet the current brake test for a start. It is a good measure. Also you nominate how many days annually that you might use the vehicle, 90 or 45. Daily use entries are logged in the provided log book. Comprehensive insurance is also drastically reduced as the vehicle is only subject to limited use.

Question. Did english vehicles sometime around WW2 get fitted with “Overtaking Warning Lights”
Such lights fitted on top of the drivers side front mudguard and were switched on when the driver wished to overtake the vehicle in front. The front driver, on seeing the light on, would pull over and allow the other vehicle to pass. Not an amber indicator, but a white Warning Light. Have been told they were legal in England in the past, but cannot find any reference to them

Ian says:
15 March 2013

I think people are really missing the real point behind the abolition of MOTs for pre 1960 vehicles. New EU rules would have made the test all but impossible for older vehicles to pass thus forcing them off the road, so think on all you moaning minis!