Safety and financial concerns as government considers raising the age cars need an MOT to 4 years.
The Government has proposed raising the age cars require a first MOT but this could jeopardise safety and increase cost, Warranty Direct says. The proposal relates to motorbikes too. Vehicles are currently tested after 3 years then annually thereafter (typically). But this threshold could – subject to consultation and approval – rise to 4 years to save motorists money in the short term by eliminating the 3 year testing charge. The Government estimates the combined saving could be 100 million pounds per-year.
Jeopardise Safety and Increase Cost
But Warranty Direct says the change could encourage motorists to postpone the maintenance that keeps vehicles safe. This could also prove financially costly as minor faults that can be repaired cheaply tend to escalate. The MOT tester inspects the vehicle's fuel system for leaks, for example. Any small imperfection can be fixed before it becomes a major fire hazard. Furthermore, the tester looks for loose electrical wiring – that can typically be tightened for very little money – before it causes a short circuit.
Warranty Direct Managing Director, David Gerrans, says: “3 years of age is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out. Whilst adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four year mark”. He concludes that extending the deadline: “will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work for anything up to an extra year - potentially putting the driver and other motorists at risk.”
Raising MOT Age To 4 Years Increases Risk Of Clocking
But there is more to consider than safety. The MOT history of a vehicle records its mileage at the point of each test. This makes it easier for a used buyer to confirm – as far as practical – that the odometer reading is correct (in conjunction with other factors). Delaying the first test would minimise this paper trail and make it easier for a criminal to sell a vehicle for a higher price having slashed its mileage. This process is called clocking.
HPI is a company that identifies cars with suspect mileage. Its Managing Director, Neil Hodson, says: “Whilst it’s fair to assume that older cars are the most likely to have their mileage reading altered, the reality is that around a third of all cars checked by the trade with HPI are found to have a mileage discrepancy within the first 3 years of their life. Extending the period for a further fourth year would see the number of pre-MoT cars with a suspect mileage increasing.”
Current Failure Rate of 22%
Geoff Bates, the AALG (Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group) chairman, said ‘With a failure rate of 22 per cent after three years, more than a fifth of cars have problems – but will be going another 12 months before an automotive professional looks at them.’