A number of motor industry organisations have expressed concerns about the Chancellor George Osborne’s intention to consult on extending the period before a vehicle’s first MOT from the current three years to four years.
Mr Osborne announced the idea in his Summer Budget speech on 8 July, suggesting the change will save motorists more than £100m annually. The extension from three to four years would only apply to cars and motorbikes, not vans.
David Gerrans, managing director at the warranty provider Warranty Direct, said: “Three years is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out.
“While adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to improving manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four-year mark.”
Warranty Direct also says the first MoT failure rate is also set to “rocket” from the typical 20%.
The proposed changes also haven’t proved popular with the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) which represents franchised car dealers, independent garages and petrol retailers.
Stuart James, director of RMI, said: “The government seems to take the view that the MOT is a burden on motorists – we think that motorists deserve more credit than that.
“Road safety is a priority for them and their families and they understand that roadworthiness testing of vehicle is an important part of making our roads among the safest in Europe.”
The RMI says even an average mileage car is significantly more likely to be driving on unsafe and worn tyres and brakes after four years compared to three.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) gave a ‘cautious welcome’ to the proposed changes, but also suggested “time and mileage-based criteria” for the first MOT.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: ““Cars are more reliable than ever, but extending the first MOT deadline could pose safety issues for cars that are doing high mileages and aren’t serviced regularly.”
TyreSafe has voiced concerns that four-year MOTs will “negatively impact road safety”.
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “In recent years there have been various proposals on changing the timing and regularity of the MOT test which have all been rejected on the grounds of their negative impact on road safety.
“While cars and motorbikes are more reliable than ever before, there are safety critical components which require regular maintenance and replacement. Evidence shows millions of Britain’s motorists do not check or maintain these parts, and only replace them when required to do so in order to pass the MOT.”
No date has yet been set for the consultation to begin, and if a new law is to be introduced it is unlikely to be until 2016.