UK motorists strongly support keeping the first MOT at three years, according to new research published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). In a Savanta poll of 1,784 adults British car owners, 67% said they were concerned that extending the MOT would put lives in danger with three quarters agreeing that the typical £35-£45 cost of a test is a price worth paying for the peace of mind it provides that their car is safe and roadworthy.
Government is consulting on delaying a car’s first MOT from when it is three years old to four or five years in a bid to save motorists money. Government says this change would deliver a cumulative saving to owners of three-year-old cars worth between £91 and £117 million, based on 2.6 million first presentation tests. For the average driver this would represent a saving of £35-£45 over the first three years’ ownership – or 23p-29p a week. Some nine in 10 respondents to the survey (87%) said they would prefer other ways to save money, for example, a reduction in VED or a cut in fuel duty, over a delay in a safety check of their vehicle.
More than 300,000 vehicles fail their first MOT through failure to meet minimum safety requirements, with fails frequently associated with tyres, brakes, lights and suspension. Indeed, the survey reveals just how heavily drivers rely on the MOT and aftermarket, service and repair sectors for checks on these common faults.
Nearly a quarter (23%) don’t regularly check that their brakes are working correctly, almost a fifth (19%) whether their tyres are okay (which should be done monthly), and 17% that their lights and indicators are functioning. These three areas accounted for nearly a quarter of a million failure items alone in 2022 2. Unsurprisingly, 66% of respondents say they would not purchase a three-year-old car without an MOT.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Safety is the number one priority for the automotive industry and the MOT is a crucial component in keeping the UK’s vehicles and roads safe. Our survey shows that drivers support the existing MOT frequency and that there is little appetite to change it, despite the increased cost of living. If changes to the MOT are to be made, these should enable testing of advanced electrified powertrains, driver assistance technologies and connected and automated features, as drivers value the peace of mind the MOT offers.”
SMMT is calling on government to maintain the requirement for a first MOT at year three, and annually thereafter, while also introducing improved emissions tests and adaptations in line with the shift in technology to electrification and advanced driver systems.