Changes to the MOT system – response to the DfT consultation27 Mar 2023

The RAC Foundation has shared its concerns about plans to change the date at which a car is first subjected to an MOT test from three years to four years.

Our analysis suggests there will be only marginal financial savings for drivers and that there could be a risk to road safety.

In its response to the Department for Transport consultation Changes to the date of the first MOT test and research into other MOT enhancements the Foundation notes that in 2022, 300,462 Class 4 vehicles (cars and vans) which took a test for the first time failed it; that’s 13% of the 2,392,502 total.

Some 4% (90,996) were found to be ‘dangerous’.

RAC Foundation analysis reveals:

“There was no marked difference in the fail rate for cars tested between their 3rd and 4th birthdays suggesting that 3-year old cars are not materially safer than 4-year old cars.

“Based on current MOT results, if cars were not tested until their 4th birthday then failing cars would be driven up to 6.3 billion miles in the year prior to their relevant roadworthiness failings being identified at a test, 2.5 billion more than is currently the case.”

As to the financial benefit to motorists resulting from a one year delay in the first test:

“With the DVSA maximum price set at a shade under £55 per test, the price of an MoT amounts to little over 1% of the annual motoring costs of the average household.”

In many cases garages offer tests below the maximum price set by the DVSA.

The RAC Foundation also opposes a change to the frequency of MOT tests once they begin to be carried out, for example by removing the requirement for an annual test and making it biennial.

In the future the MOT system could be used as a method of collecting data on the state of batteries in electric vehicles as they age:

“Though not specifically a roadworthiness issue we see value in the development of independently applicable battery integrity and battery performance tests that could usefully be incorporated into the MoT, though not be restricted to MoT deployment alone.”

Though of less importance than the road safety aspect of the proposed changes, any amendments to the timing and frequency of MOT tests are likely to hamper data collection on the way cars and vans are used and how this might affect attempts to cut carbon emissions.

“The current requirement to only have the first test at 3 years leads to deficiencies in the accuracy of mileage estimates. To delay the test further would introduce further constraints on the accuracy of derivable data, and thus hinder the ability of the government to keep track of its performance in respect of its Net Zero commitments.”