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Government starts consultation on extending first MOT to four years

 Published 6th February 2023
Driver Guides  General Guides 

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on potential changes to the MOT test process. This includes the proposal to push back the first MOT for light vehicles from the current three years to four.

It's a move that would bring the UK in line with a number of European countries, including France, Italy, and Spain. But the consultation proposal has been generally met with opposition from road safety groups.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The MOT plays a vital role in ensuring that vehicles on our roads are safe and well maintained, and while not a formal recommendation, we totally oppose any change from an annual MOT. “With one in 10 cars failing their first MOT, we strongly discourage the Government from extending a car's first MOT to the fourth anniversary due to road safety concerns.”

The RAC has less vehement opposition, but urges that road-worthiness is paramount, and an MOT is a good way of ensuring this.

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “While we're not opposed to delaying a new vehicle's first MOT, we believe there should be a requirement for particularly high mileage vehicles to be tested sooner. "If the Government is looking to improve the MOT, now is the ideal time to take into account how much a vehicle is driven, alongside the number of years it's been on the road.”

Some proposals have been put forward for consultation before, in 2017-18, and those such as extending the first MOT date were met with opposition.

The most recent changes to MOT regulations saw the removal of a required test for cars 40 years old or more. Since many classic cars are run by enthusiasts, many have continued to test their cars to ensure safety requirements are met, but extending the first test due will impact a far greater number of cars.

As well as vehicle safety, the MOT tests emissions output, and by adding another 12 months to the first test date will see high mileage models possibly get hit by stringent standards.

That said, the consultation does seek responses to testing a greater number of pollutants, including those such as particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxides (NOx), which have a significant impact on local air quality. These are proposed to be included in the emissions testing part of the test to make sure petrol, diesel, and hybrid models meet emissions requirements throughout their time on the road.

Other considerations are a test for electric vehicle batteries to ensure safety and reliability, tests for engine noise levels, and measures that will help crack down on MOT and mileage fraud.

The consultation closes at the end of February, and those interested in the full list of proposals as well as having their say, can find the consultation at the DfT website.

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