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MOT Testing to Be Scrapped for the Over-40s

New legislation for the annual MOT check-up will mean an extra 293,000 cars will be exempt from testing from next May.

New laws regarding the annual MOT check-up will mean an extra 293,000 cars that are more than 40 years old will be free from testing from May 2018. 

What this means in real terms is that a total of half a million cars will be permitted to drive on UK roads without being tested annually for road-worthiness.

At present, almost 200,000 cars are exempt under current law that states vehicles registered prior to 1960 do not need to be tested, but that is all about to change. And it’s news that has been welcomed and criticised with equal degrees of merit.

The decision was based on consumer feedback as the Department of Transport looked to the public for its views. More than 2,000 people took part in the survey and despite 56 percent opposing the new proposals and raising concerns about the safety of vehicles on the roads, there was still considerable support for the scheme.

In support of the new legislation, the Government considered the facts that cars over 40 years old are usually very well maintained, are used less frequently than other vehicles and generally on shorter journeys and also that many garages struggle to test them properly in the modern era.

Subjects that arose in opposition to the policy change were, typically, that any vehicle could potentially cause a fatal accident and therefore all should have an annual MOT. This is an argument against any exemptions at all, including the current one for vehicles built before 1960. 

Concerns were also raised that older vehicles were constructed to different design standards from those of modern vehicles, which were not as robust and they should, therefore, have an MOT. And whilst opposition campaigners recognised that most owners of older vehicles keep them in good condition, it was put forward that many others do not and it makes sense to have an independent check. Finally, the no-change voters stated that older vehicles corrode more easily and this cannot always be spotted by the owner, and in addition, vehicle owners do not have the facilities to conduct tests as thoroughly as garages.

In reaching its decision the Government gave significant consideration to the issue of any potential impact on rates of death and serious injury on the road and concluded in its report that ‘The MOT failure rate and the number of people killed and seriously injured in accidents involving vehicles over 40 years old are both lower than those for newer vehicles’.

By implementing this new ruling, owners of vehicles built before 1977 will benefit from a number of financial gains. The main saving will be the cost of the MOT test which can be as high as £54.85 per year. However, they will also gain from the costs incurred in taking their vehicle to be tested.

However, for the more conscientious owners who like to keep tabs on the state of their vehicle, the option to submit their vehicles to a voluntary MOT test will remain in place. Currently, around six percent of the owners of pre-1960 vehicles submit their vehicles to voluntary testing.

The new ruling has been welcomed by Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution, who said: “We would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation for their valuable input, and have noted the views expressed. After considering the responses, we have decided to exempt most vehicles over 40 years old from the requirement for annual roadworthiness testing. 

“This means lighter vehicles (such as cars and motorcycles) and those larger vehicles such as buses which are not used commercially. Heavy Goods Vehicles and Public Service Vehicles falling under operator licensing regulations will remain within the scope of roadworthiness testing,” he added.

The Government also looked into introducing an MOT exemption for vehicles that are 30 years old but decided not to proceed with the proposal due to public concerns and negative feedback.

Whatever your car needs, just regit

Surely both camps (and the general public) would have been better served by having a reduced test at lower cost, concentrating on the 'basics' of safety, if the full rigours of current MOT are difficult to achieve on these older vehicles. The likely weaknesses on most makes of that age are probably already documented and could probably be compiled - to give Test Centres a set of guidelines and major points to look for and test. Such a test might be accepted by Insurers to contain premiums. If I was an insurer I would certainly want to premium load an untested and potentially unsafe rust bucket with bald tyres! This is just Government looking to make cost savings without taking into account the value of maintaining standards of safety. Maybe the test could be mandatory after a period of 'x' 000 miles, rather than annually, thereby segregating the really low mileage 'collector' cars from those used more regularly.

The Government do lots of stupid things; this is another one! Yes, most enthusiasts with classic cars look after them - but not ALL do and not everyone has a car hoist to get under the vehicle for a good inspection of the chassis, brake lines etc. There should be a 'classic' MOT for ALL cars that are now outside the 'conventional' MOT - checking (at least) all the safety aspect of the car.