In recent months, the government has mulled plans to extend obligatory MOTs from every year to every two years in an attempt to lighten the load caused by the cost-of-living crisis. But while 84% of used car buyers would back this move according to the Startline Used Car Tracker, the idea has been met with disapproval and concern from motor traders. 
Under current rules, an MOT needs to be carried out annually on all cars over three years old, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested changing this to try and help motorists spread the costs.
While he said any changes would need to meet “a very rigorous safety standard”, the motor trade industry has been quick to condemn the potential move.
One of the biggest risks will be on the roads. The annual MOT has kept vehicles roadworthy for many years – particularly so after regulations were tightened in 2018, for example to ensure diesel emissions were properly caught.
Letting vehicles go longer between check-ups runs the risk of more problems developing into something serious, potentially making a vehicle less safe to drive.
This view is reinforced by the fact the latest MOT records from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show that nearly 1 in 3 cars and vans fail their MOT at the first attempt (30.3%). Almost 1 in 10 are found to have at least one ‘dangerous fault’. 
With such high percentages of vehicles already needing work carried out at an annual MOT, it’s easy to see how dropping the need for yearly tests could make more vehicles unsafe on the roads, potentially leading to more accidents.
This in turn is likely to lead to drivers having to fork out more for the eventual repairs, which could have been picked up earlier and sorted out more cheaply during the annual MOT.
Currently, the cost of an annual test is set to a maximum of £54.85 so while changing to two years could help motorists in the short term, it could also lead to more expensive and unexpected costs down the line when serious faults occur.
The cost of these repairs is compounded by the high prices and long lead times motor traders like garages, repair shops and mechanics are already facing when trying to buy in supplies.
With less regular MOT work coming their way, motor traders may find their businesses are financially squeezed and many could lose their jobs, further fuelling the pressure on the motor trade and motorists alike.
Whenever risk rises, insurance invariably follows.
If the government follows through on these suggestions, both vehicle owners and motor traders may find the costs of insurance also go up as repair work becomes more involved (and therefore more expensive) as well as potentially more probable – suggesting once again that these plans could end up creating a false economy.
The cost of living crisis is putting undeniable pressure on motor trade businesses and their customers, but short term money-saving plans could risk making the situation worse. The RAC, the AA, the Independent Garage Association and the National Franchised Dealers Association have all condemned the suggestion of two-year MOTs – pointing to the danger it would pose to road safety, the job market and cost of repairs.
Jack Cousens, head of road policy at the AA, believes the government would be better focussing their attention on fuel prices and expanding Park & Ride schemes, explaining that the MOT remains a vital source of road safety.
In his words: “the MOT now highlights major and dangerous defects too, showing how important it is to keep cars in a safe condition.”
Speak to Aston Lark’s specialist motor trade team today on 0330 008 9663 or email [email protected] to find out how we could help save dealerships and garages money on their insurance premium.
Don’t worry if a new insurance policy is not due soon, just fill in the next renewal date on the form here and we will get in touch closer to the time.