The general election puts MOT frequency debate on hold; but changes seem unlikely…
A government consultation seeking views from both the trade and motorists on extending the date of the first MOT from three to four years closed on April 16 and the results are now being analysed. Any resulting changes will not be implemented until September at the earliest due to the General Election being called, but indications from the Department for Transport allude to a strong majority of respondents being against any change to the MOT frequency.
The Garage Equipment Association was quick to oppose the 4-1-1 proposal, warning the change would increase road accidents, pointing out that 17% of Class 4 and 36% of Class 7 vehicles fail their first MOT at 3 years and that the MOT emission test is the first independent emission test conducted since the vehicle was type approved, so questioned whether vehicles should be on the road for a further year. The GEA also warned that the MOT is the first time a vehicle’s mileage is documented, delaying this for a further year could increase the advantage gained by clocking a vehicle by 25%.
POTENTIAL IMPACT ON ROAD SAFETY
The outcome of the consultation will be published on www.autotechnician.co.uk as soon as it is available, in the meantime, we spoke to Quentin Le Hetet, General Manager of industry
analysts GiPA, to consider the implications of extending the first MOT to four years. Quentin stressed that the government had suggested the change firstly, to be in-line with other
European countries who have the first MOT at four years (many of which then have biannual MOTs thereafter) and secondly, the government has suggested the move would save UK motorists £100 million per year, based on just the MOT fee. Analysts at GiPA looked at the 2016 workshop data for vehicles aged three years and there were 650,000 entries for MOT-related preparation and repairs directly linked to the vehicles’ first MOT, equating to £148.8 million pounds in revenue. A significant potential saving for motorists perhaps, but surely a false economy if the rectification of these faults is delayed by a further year, with a proportion resulting in a costlier repair bill at four years. More importantly, this would reduce the roadworthiness of vehicles and impact the UK’s comparably good road safety record.
WHAT DO MOTORISTS THINK? THE SMMT FIND OUT…
New research published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT ) has shown that more than three quarters (76%) of car owners said the MOT test should continue to take place when the vehicle is three years old, saying the fee is worth the peace of mind that their car is safe, roadworthy and legal.
The YouGov survey also discovered that more than two thirds (68%) also expressed concern that delaying the car’s first MOT could put themselves and other road users in danger. In its
consultation, government suggests that new technology, such as tyre pressure monitoring systems, makes new vehicles much safer, but they do not change the fundamental underlying operation of wear and tear products such as tyres and brakes, which continue to require regular checks and maintenance.
The SMMT states that 17% of all cars taking their first MOT at three years do not meet minimum safety requirements. Postponing the first MOT for a further 12 months could,
therefore, result in almost half a million more cars in an unfit condition driving freely and unchecked on UK roads.
The most common reasons for three-year-old cars failing the test include essential lights and indicators, tyres, brakes and suspension. The MOT is a critical intervention that ensures
worn components are replaced before the car is allowed back onto the road.
A recent investigation of 340,000 tyres conducted by TyreSafe found that more than a quarter of car tyres checked were below the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. In
addition, 70.4% of the tyres examined were worn below the recommended 2mm minimum and would be unlikely to last another year before reaching the legal minimum through
typical use. The SMMT’s survey has found that more than half (56%) of car owners said they didn’t examine their tyres each month as recommended, with one in five (18%) checking them just once a year or less, or not at all.
The SMMT asserts the automotive industry believes safety should come ahead of deregulation, cost saving or convenience. It is in favour of additional checks such as allowing diesel particulate filters to be properly tested; introducing vehicle safety recall checks to remind motorists of outstanding recall work and ensure it is carried out; tightening the check on mileage to aid the fight against clocking; and ensuring the test and testing stations are sufficiently equipped for checking emerging technologies such as automated safety systems.
SMMT SURVEY RESULTS
To what extent do you agree that the typical £45 cost of an MOT (according to the DfT) is worth the peace of mind that the car is safe, roadworthy and legal?
Strongly agree: 39.7%
Tend to agree: 43.6%
Tend to disagree: 10.6%
Strongly disagree: 3.8%
How often, if at all, do you or someone else responsible for your car personally check tyre
condition and tread depth?
At least once a week: 11%
At least once a month: 27.7%
At least once every three months: 22.4%
At least once every six months: 14.9%
Once a year (not including the annual MOT ): 11%
Less often than once a year: 3.3%
How likely, if at all, would you be to consider purchasing a car over three years old that did not have a valid MOT certificate at the time of purchase?
Very likely: 2.1%
Fairly likely: 4.7%
Not very likely: 19.3%
Not at all likely: 69.7%
To what extent do you agree with extending the length of time before a car has to go for its first MOT will put drivers, passengers, pedestrians and other road uses in danger?
Strongly agree: 25.9%
Tend to agree: 42.2%
Tend to disagree: 18.6%
Strongly disagree: 7%
To what extent do you agree that a car’s first MOT should continue to take place when it is three years old?
Strongly agree: 41.8%
Tend to agree: 34.7%
Tend to disagree: 13.7%
Strongly disagree: 4.8%
ROADWORTHINESS DIRECTIVE CHANGE WILL BOLSTER DPF CHECKS
Back in February 2014, VOSA introduced a visual check of the presence of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) as part of the MOT, with an MOT failure resulting if a missing DPF was found on a vehicle, which was built with one fitted as original equipment.
This has been difficult to police, with many services springing up around the UK to remove the internal elements of the filter while leaving the casing to pass the inspection. A government investigation followed urgent calls for reform as the current MOT fails to identify many cases of DPF removal because it only includes a ‘visual inspection’ of the hardware, which can be welded back together.
Changes have this month been made to the Roadworthiness Directive legislation which will come into force in May 2018. This will reduce the smoke limit threshold, which is currently 1.5% to 0.7%, providing additional evidence from the emissions that something may not be quite as it seems.
The Department for Transport (DfT ) says: “Removal of a DPF will almost invariably result in a contravention of the Regulations, making the vehicle illegal to use on the road. The legislation makes the owner or user of the vehicle primarily responsible for its condition. Whether the person who had removed the DPF, or had offered to remove it, had also committed an offence would be a matter for the courts to decide. ”Penalties currently stand at £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a van.
If you are thinking of setting up as an MOT station or need to check that you are complying
with the latest regulations and up to speed with special notices, visit www.gov.uk/topic/mot
Here you will find all you need to know about becoming an MOT tester – including manuals,
forms and information on training.