The Department for Transport has launched a public consultion to reform the MOT test, which includes a proposal to extend the date of the first MOT test for new vehicles to the fourth year.
Possible changes to the MOT test could also include boosting the monitoring of emissions to tackle pollution and measures to ensure the safety of batteries fitted to electric and hybrid vehicles.
Views are being sought to update MOT testing for cars, motorbikes and vans to ensure roadworthiness checks continue to balance costs on motorists while ensuring road safety, keeping up with advances in vehicle technology, and tackling vehicle emissions.
Safety concerns are already being raised about the proposed change, with one in 10 vehicles failing their first test.
Edmund King, AA president, said: “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.
“Last year, 83% of drivers said that the annual MOT was ‘very important’ for keeping our cars and roads as safe as possible, which highlights why an annual MOT must remain in place.”
The proposal was last considered in 2017-18, where the four-year policy did not obtain public support. Many respondents to the last consultation cited concerns over vehicle safety as the main reason for opposing the move.
While cars have become more advanced over time, safety items like tyres and brakes can often be deficient after three years.
There are also existing concerns over the legitimacy of many MOT tests. Almost 700 MOT testers have been disqualified in the last two years (2020/21 and 2021/22), a rise of 49% compared to the previous two years.
Data obtained from the DVSA by BookMyGarage has shown there were 687 disqualifications in the past two financial years, with more than 1,000 warnings issued to MoT testers during the same timeframe.
Tester disqualifications have risen steadily in recent years, with the DVSA banning nearly 3.5 times the number of testers in 2020/21 compared to 2015/16.
The NFDA said it is concerned that the proposed changes may not be beneficial for motorists or MOT testing centres, particularly for franchised dealers.
Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA, said: “We will be conducting a thorough investigation into the implications these changes may have. Franchise dealers will continue to ensure motorists on UK roads are as safe as possible through robust, professionally executed and frequent MOT testing regimes. NFDA will be responding to the consultation in due course, as well as keeping correspondence with the relevant government bodies to ensure future MOTs are conducted in a safe and fair manner.”
The average MOT test costs £40 and moving the requirement for a test to four years could save motorists across Great Britain around £100 million a year in fees.
Undertaking roadworthiness testing four years since the vehicle’s registration is already standard practice across many European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
The consultation also seeks views on how to improve monitoring of emissions to tackle pollution to bolster the environmental efficiency of vehicles.
Potential new measures include introducing testing of pollutants such as particulate number (PN) and NOx to ensure diesel, petrol and hybrid cars always meet emissions requirements throughout their lifespan.
Among the proposals, the consultation will consider whether electric vehicles’ batteries should be tested to improve the safety and reliability of EVs, if additional measures should be introduced to tackle excessively loud engines, and how the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can continue to crack down against MOT and mileage fraud.