MOT test changes in 2018 – four years to first MOT

Mike Vousden
February 16, 2017

Proposals by the Department for Transport suggest increasing the time before a car’s first MOT test from three years to four

  • DfT proposes extending period to first MOT test
  • Current three year wait could become four years
  • Scheme claims to save British motorists around £100m
  • Could potentially lead to more dangerous vehicles on the roads

The Department for Transport has suggested extending the period until a car’s first MOT test. Currently all passenger cars must have their first MOT once they’re three years old but the Government is proposing to raise this to four years.

This rise is claimed to save motorists around £100 million every year because they won’t have to visit a testing centre as soon as they would have to otherwise. On the other hand, the changes could lead to a more complacent attitude towards vehicle maintenance and potentially many more dangerous cars on the roads.

What are the proposed 2018 MOT test changes?

The Department for Transport is suggesting increasing the period until a vehicle’s first MOT test. The current system requires the first MOT test to be taken after three years but the DfT wants to extend this to four years. If passed, the changes will become law in 2018.

2018 MOT test changes – the pros and cons

The DfT’s says its reasoning for the proposed change reflects the significantly improved build quality of modern cars compared to those when the test was first introduced. The existing three-year limit was set in the ’60s when build and material quality along with quality control practices were unrecognisable by today’s lofty standards.

If the changes are enacted, the DfT claims motorists in the UK could stand to save around £100 million per year. This is based on the fact car owners will essentially have one fewer MOT tests to take their car to. More intricate changes to the way goods vehicles are tested could see less public money spent there too.

The changes aren’t necessarily all good news, however. Adding another year to the time before a car’s first MOT means one more year’s worth of wear until a test discovers what, if anything, has gone wrong. It’s possible that cars with potentially catastrophic flaws could be on the road for a year longer than they would otherwise be.

What’s more, by requiring one fewer MOT test, the local garages that carry out the tests stand to lose a noticeable proportion of their earnings. This could lead to price rises as garages seek to cover any holes left by lost revenue as a result of the changes.

What vehicles are covered by the changes?

The changes are focused primarily on private passenger cars – i.e. the cars you buy privately from a dealership. The DfT has also made proposals regarding vans up to 3,500kg in weight, which covers most typical Ford Transit-type models.

Taxis – whether black cabs or private hire cars – aren’t covered by the changes because they’re required to have an MOT test after just one year. This reflects their role as a more frequent carrier of passengers – reassuring on those drunken late-night trips home.

When will the changes come into force?

The proposal is still under public consultation but, should the changes be passed, the DfT claims it’s aiming to introduce the plans in 2018.