4 Year MOT Testing

The Chancellor George Osborne announced during the recent summer budget speech that the government are to consult on extending the deadline for new cars and motorbikes to have their first MOT test changed from three to four years old. George also announced that this is likely to save motorists over £100m a year.

Saving the value of an MOT test for simply one extra year is chicken feed in the scheme of things. Is this change really being considered for cost saving purposes to the motorist? I think not, it is simply to bring us in line with the rest of Europe. Surely it is better that we lead the way in vehicle safety throughout Europe and not bow down by lowering our standards.

Regular Basic Checks?

Evidence shows millions of British motorists do not carry out regular checks on their vehicles and only replace parts when required to do so in order to pass the MOT. Tyre pressures, fluid levels and light checks are all basic items that require checking more regularly than they currently are being carried out by motorists. I recently carried out a show of hands survey at a recent Business over Breakfast networking meeting and only one person out of thirty could honestly say that they had checked their engine oil recently.

This small survey also highlighted that quite a few of the members did not realise that when an engine’s oil light comes on it is too late and that it will have inevitably caused damage to the engine.

Why is this?

Too many people think that because their car is still relatively new it does not use oil? What an expensive assumption this could have been for one recent customer who drives a 63 plate Jaguar XF which does not have an oil level dip stick but relies on an oil level sensor. This customer did not even have to lift the bonnet to check his vehicles engine oil but during our discussions with him about customers generally not carrying out basic checks he asked if we would check the engine oil for him and not surprisingly it was low and required topping up with half a litre. This vehicle is only two years old so stretching the MOT out by a further year would mean the oil level would probably be below the minimum level causing irreversible damage.

You might argue that the vehicle would have been serviced before this ever became a problem and in an ideal world you would be correct. But in an ideal world a driver should be carrying out basic checks regularly and it is a fact that very few drivers do these regular basic checks.

Lost Revenue or for Safety Reasons?

The skeptics among you may be thinking that I am just worried about a loss of income. But this is far from the truth; on average we see approximately 30 cars that are new to us over a year that are due an MOT after three years. This information has been sourced by using our own customer data base. Delaying a vehicle’s first MOT by 1 year is only likely to cost my company approximately £100 per month in lost revenue.

We also earn money from the repairs that may be required off the back of these lost MOTs but using the DVSA’s 20% failure rate figure then that means that 6 of our 30 new MOTs are likely to fail. Should the MOT be left for a further year this failure rate is likely to increase. I am confident that any lost revenue will be made up by an increase in extra repair work generated due to the fact that many customers have not carried out any basic checks for a further year.

Even an average mileage car is significantly more likely to be driven with unsafe and worn out tyres or brakes should this ruling be allowed. 4 years compared to 3 is simply too long a period before a vehicle’s first safety check is carried out, especially when some vehicles have extended service intervals of two years.

The latest figures available from the Department for Transport shows around 2.2 million vehicles fail their MOT every year as a result of tyre defects. We carry out on average 115 MOTs per month and out of all these MOTs 25% fail and 10% require their engine oil topped up of which a good percentage with 2 litres or more.

In recent years there have been various proposals on changing the timing and regularity of the MOT test which have all been rejected on the grounds of their negative impact on road safety. These vehicles and any extension is likely to see more failures of safety related components long before they are identified at MOT- especially in high-mileage cars. The overall reliability of modern cars and longer servicing intervals means that the current generation of drivers are far less likely to be aware of vehicle faults.

I support a review of the MOT regime to improve safety but oppose any move to reduce the frequency of tests which would make our roads more dangerous, prove more expensive for drivers and has been shown to be unwanted by drivers themselves.

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