MOT proposals could see new cars tested after four years as ministers also consult on the future frequency of tests
New cars may soon require their first MOT test after four years instead of three under new proposals being set out by the government which could save drivers £100 million a year.
The Department for Transport is also exploring whether all MOTs could be done 'less frequently' and whether it can do more to tackle 'excessively loud engines' as it sets out its plans for the future testing of cars, motorbikes and vans to establish their roadworthiness.
Officials are suggesting changing the MOT system in the UK in response to advances in vehicle technology and the growing popularity of hybrids and electric vehicles.
The public, including drivers and non-drivers as well as businesses across the country such as garages and mechanics, are all being encouraged to share their views before the official consultation closes on February 28.
Data shows – explains the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – that most new vehicles still pass their first MOT test after three years and with the number of casualties in crashes due to vehicle defects remaining low, government analysis suggests that pushing the deadline back 12 months for the first examination won't impact road safety.
Testing after four years since the vehicle’s registration is also already standard practice across many European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
Alongside planned changes for new cars, the consultation also seeks people's views on the ongoing frequency of MOTs alongside how to improve the monitoring of car emissions throughout their lifespan to tackle pollution and the environmental impact of vehicles as they get older. There are also proposed changes connected to the testing of electric vehicle batteries and if additional measures could be introduced to tackle louder engines.
The MOT was first introduced back in 1960 with a test now costing around £40 with a qualified mechanic.
Motoring group the AA says while it welcomes some of the proposed changes to the test system, which would make sure MOT testers look at new advanced safety features as cars evolve, they cannot support any changes to the frequency of testing.
Edmund King, AA president, explained: "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.
"When this proposal was last considered in 2017-18, the four-year policy did not obtain public support – with many citing concerns over vehicle safety as the main reason for opposing the move. We do not believe this to have changed over time. Safety items like tyres and brakes can often be deficient after three years."
Any changes to the MOT that are given the go-ahead will be supported by an information campaign to inform drivers of the updates and their responsibilities in keeping vehicles roadworthy promises the DfT and DVSA.