Feb 2, 2023

Changes to the MOT Test Arrangements?

Ian Biddle
Further reading

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a new (well another!) consultation on possible changes to the MOT. Central to the proposed changes and not for the first time of asking is the first MoT for light vehicles moves from three years to four years. In 2017-18 the idea was put forward, not for the first time and it drew a backlash across the board as potentially dangerous and unnecessary.

The MoT test has been in place since the early 1960s and the 3 year threshold for the first MOT test since the late 1960s. The MOT test was first introduced to assure the safety of a vehicle, in practice the effectiveness of safety-critical components such as tyres and brakes. In recent years, the concept of roadworthiness has expanded to and now also encompass vehicle emissions and effects on the environment.

Since the MOT was introduced – and especially in recent years – there have been major advances in vehicle technology. These include the development of hybrid and electric vehicles; rapid progress in systems that automate actions such as parking or provide information to the driver. Looking to the future, rapid progress is being made in developing vehicles with self-driving features. It is therefore appropriate to consider whether changes need to be made to ensure that the system for assuring that vehicles are roadworthy remains fit for purpose.

The consultation is in two parts:
The first part considers the case for changing the date at which the first MOT is required and proposes that the date of the first MOT is changed from 3 to 4 years and some related changes. The second part of the consultation asks broader questions about the nature of the MOT – what is tested and how and the frequency of tests. We also ask whether there are other approaches that could achieve our road safety and environmental objectives.

The Department is seeking to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, options for change and the issues that arise. Many of the questions asked concern the linkages between developments in vehicle technology and MOT testing. To assist with the technical aspects of the review, the government is appointing a consultant to advise on the review and will draw on the expertise of industry groups from the motoring and garages sectors.

This consultation is only considering light vehicles. Heavy freight and passenger carrying vehicles are subject to annual roadworthiness tests starting from the year they are first registered plus additional requirements for regular maintenance inspections and on road enforcement by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). (Traffic Safety Roads)