Extension of the time before a car needs its first MOT from three years to four has been cancelled due to safety fears
Mark Tisshaw
18 January 2018

A new car's first MOT will remain at the three-year point, after a Government proposal suggesting a car's first MOT should be after four years was scrapped with concerns over safety.

Following a public consultation, the decision, which was set to take effect later this year, has been overturned. Fewer than half of the public consulted were in favour, with the main concern being the safety risk involved in delaying the first MOT of a car until its fourth year.

The current three-year period needed before a car's first MOT was introduced in 1967, when it was reduced from 10 years. In the proposal, the Government said "safer technology and improved manufacturing" have resulted in "new vehicles that stay roadworthy for longer." 

The Government originally suggested the proposals would save motorists around £100 million per year, although responses in the public consultation asserted that the safety risk outweighed the potential saving. The MOT test is undertaken by 2.4 million cars for the first time each year, with faulty lights the most common cause of these cars failing according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

Opinion: What's a fair price for the MOT test?

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world, and are always looking at ways of making them safer. Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MOT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk.”

The Government says that, since 2006, the number of accidents involving a three- or four-year-old vehicle where a defect in the vehicle was a contributing factor has fallen from 155 to 57 in 2015, a drop of almost two thirds.

The DVSA is running a campaign to ensure more motorists carry out basic maintenance on their cars that contribute to around half of MOT faults, such as faulty lights, windscreen wipers, low oil levels and tyres with low tread.

Announcing the proposals early last year, transport minister Andrew Jones said: "We have some of the safest roads in the world and MOT tests play an important role in ensuring the standard of vehicles on our roads. New vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago and so it is only right we bring the MOT test up to date to help save motorists money where we can."

Switching to a four-year period before a first MOT would have brought England, Wales and Scotland in line with Northern Ireland, and other European countries including France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway.

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23 January 2017
Why wait until 2018 ffs.

23 January 2017
It's not cars that need testing, it's their drivers. Why not have a 10 year "MOT" for drivers irrespective of age? But they'd need to test for attitudes as well as competence because a competent driver with a bad attitude is just as dangerous as the converse.

23 January 2017
You cannot trust all owners of newer cars to actually stick to the manufacturer's maintenance regime. Also, such a change fails to take account of all the very high mileage ex-company cars entering the market after two or three years, cheap used cars that ARE likely to escape proper maintenance.


23 January 2017
The DTP test only fixes these faults once a year, if drivers had better attitudes and were more conscientious things like broken bulbs, low tyre pressures (and tread depth), worn wiper blades etc might get fixed more often. Drivers have the attitude that "my car has a new MOT, therefore it's safe" and take no personal responsibility.

23 January 2017
A DVLA campaign will not educate drivers to fix their lights. Only effective policing and high profile penalties will do that. This year I have seen proportionately more single headlight cars than any previous year.

Thankfully there are now 3 brake lights on modern cars so any one failing still leaves 2, but there are still far too many with one failed, and occasionally with two.

If a dashboard warning of a failed light isn't already mandatory, should it be?

People also drive on parking lights in fog, which isn't an MOT failure but bear with me a second. Last week I even saw two dedicated driving instruction cars driving on parking lights in reduced visibility fog. If the instructors can't be relied upon to teach that simple lifesaving requirement of the highway code what hope is there that they teach checking operations of all lights?

23 January 2017
Are the manufacturers and lease car owning companies putting pressure on the government to change the legislation so that they do not have to pay out for MOTs on 3 year old end of lease cars before they sell them? As an MOT tester myself I have seen shockingly worn and damaged tyres and the risk that a car could conceivably go uninspected for 4 years horrifies me. Manufacturers might also have to fit extra large screen wash reservoirs that will last 4 years as many drivers seem to be incapable of opening the bonnet to fill them....

23 January 2017
Good point about the brake lights, most cars don't give a warning, which in this day and age of H&S overload and cheap electronics - is rather remis. As for people driving in fog on just DRLs or no lights at all - I think part of the problem here is the auto lights function. When it's foggy during the day, the overall sky is still relatively bright or a light grey mass. The light sensor for the headlights still thinks it's bright enough not to put the headlights/rear lights on so it doesn't. And if you've got a defective human behind the wheel at the same time who either doesn't recognise this fact, or thinks 'the lights are automatic, they'll come on when they think they need to be on, I'm not touching 'em' - then you've had it.

18 January 2018

So lets do the maths:

In 2016 2.6 million cars were sold, an MoT costs aorund £50 and a conservative estimate is that there is a £50 opportunity cost for the person bringing the car to the test.

So one years extra MoT's costs £260 million, this saves us 57 accidents (see article) or £4.7 million per accident avoided. Even if those accidents were all fatal that would be a poor return, however given that less than 1 in 100 accidents which cause injury are fatal there is a decent chance that this would save around 0 lives per year.

In short the public are basically wrong and the department of transport should have had the balls to do this against their (not very strongly held) wishes.

18 January 2018
So 57 accidents on those vehicles had a vehicle fault CONTRIBUTION but not always the root cause. So that means the other 37,000 accidents were due to driver error yet we make no effort to retest drivers! It's a joke.




18 January 2018

There are some company cars out there that could quite conceivably cover 150,000 miles in the first three years.

There are some idiots on here suggesting that because the accident rate involving badly maintained cars is so low the first test should be at 4 years.  Well, perhaps they should consider that this rate is so low precisely because cars are tested at three years and annually thereafter.


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