Save money by not having an MOT? Would you be in favour?

car It’s January. Everyone is back at work/looking for work/watching Jeremy Kyle and soon Black Monday will be upon us- the third Monday in January when you realise it is still ages until you get paid. This is probably not the time to remind you of unavoidable and necessary costs like an annual MOT, and while the MOT itself might not break the bank, the various jobs that need doing to get your car through just might.

So would you welcome a change to the current system? In the UK we work on a 3-1-1 system, which means a new car does not need an MOT for three years, and then one is required annually. In Continental Europe though, the system is 4-2-2.

As part of its Red Tape Challenge, the Government has been consulting on changing the UK system to the 4-2-2 frequency pattern. On the face of it, this would seem to be good news for the savvy consumer like you, dear Bitterwallet reader, as the reduced frequency would naturally translate to a reduced pocket dent, wouldn’t it? The Government’s own figures estimate an annual saving to motorists of £24.44 a year made up of:

£20 a year in saved MOT fees

£3.30 a year in saved personal time

£1.14 a year in saved fuel costs as a result of fewer visits to a MOT station

Sounds reasonable, and while £24.44 a year isn’t a lot of money, it is still more money in your pocket than in someone else’s, right? Well, apparently not. Road safety campaign organisation ProMOTe beg to differ. They claim that, rather than saving you some pretty pennies, a less frequent MOT would actually cost you money, to the tune of an additional £81.81, made up of:

£30.59 in additional repair costs

£46.05 in additional insurance premiums

£5.17 in additional fuel costs

Now call me a cynic, but it might just be that an organisation called ProMOTe actually quite likes the current MOT system and would therefore find figures from its “motor industry sources” that supported its cause. The accountant in me also wonders why the £23.33 MOT fees and time savings have been left out of the ProMOTe figures. Surely these are valid savings, and the personal time saving looks low to me, given even miminum wage is now over £6 per hour. Could it be because including these costs would reduce the impact value of their ‘extra cost’?

However, ProMOTe are not just a bunch of busybodies*, the main thrust behind their argument is one of road safety- if cars are tested once a year, there is a least a vague hope that for some of that year, the car is safe to drive on the road. Pro-MOTe co-ordinator, Bill Duffy, said “This research shows that scrapping annual MOT testing would not only be dangerous but prove very expensive too, to both drivers and taxpayers alike… and the cost to the UK economy in lost jobs and higher costs arising from the additional accidents that we would see due to less frequent testing would be significant.”

“Reducing the frequency of MOTs is a cost too far. It is time for the Government to scrap this dangerous, expensive and unwanted plan.” he finished.

But is it an unwanted plan? Clearly ProMOTe are not fans, but what about the Great British Public? Earlier this year the Government consulted on motoring red tape, which included a strand for discussion on Vehicle Safety and Standards. The results of the consultation were announced last month, and the current MOT regulations are classified as ones due to “Improve”. But is this is line with the consultation responses?

ProMOTe analysed the comments left on the relevant section of the Red Tape Challenge website and came up with the following results:

291 responses to red tape challenge on Vehicle safety and Standards

220 mentioned MOT frequency change (75.6 % of all responses)

203 of those who mentioned MOT were against the change (92.3%)

10 people were for the change (4.5%)

7 people mentioned MOT but didn’t say whether they were for or against a change

Again, the cynic in me wanted to take these figures with a pinch of salt, but reading the comments left on the website, ProMOTe’s analysis does appear to be accurate. It seems the public are more concerned with road safety than in saving money.

Having said that, 291 people is not really a representative sample of the 60 million people in the UK. Also, a large number of respondents seemed to be in the motor trade, who naturally have a vested interest in maintaining the current schedule of testing.

So here’s a question for you- would you favour a change to the MOT system?

* they might actually be busybodies, I don’t know. I am just not assuming them to be so.


  • Steve
    For the past 15 years where has an MOT cost just £20? How does time off work to drop off car, pick up car, half a day off to take it back in to get new brake pads cost you just £3? The comparison is totally flawed
  • Angry S.
    All those figures should be taken with a pinch of salt. It would be dead easy for the pro-MOT mob to load up a website with a couple of hundred positive comments then report it as representative; in fact, I'd be amazed if they didn't encourage their member to do just that. There is really no justification for testing modern cars every year, or for starting at 3 years - if anything it should be mileage based, but otherwise, until they are about 7 or 8 years old, once every 2 years would be enough.
  • andy y.
    How about a cut down annual MOT looking only at critical safety eg brakes/tyres etc and an advanced MOT every three years covering the non life and death stuff emmisions /bodywork
  • John
    Halfords/Kwit-Fit etc. would go bust very quickly if there wasn't an annual MOT.Just think of all those inflated charges & the unnecessary work they would lose
  • daniel
    For me, the problem isn't with paying £50 for a MOT it's with the risk of being told you need to have work done you don't need. If you have a mechanic you can trust then I can't see a problem with paying £50 for a MOT and peace of mind...
  • Euan
    Would strongly prefer to keep the current system - it's just not worth compromising safety for the comparatively small savings being offered. For those worried about lots of "non-essential" work being found - try using your local council's MOT testing station, all they can do for you is the test so they have no financial benefit in finding extra stuff to do since you'd have to go elsewhere for it anyway. And typically they're quite happy to have the extra work since it shows they're busy and required and not something the council should be considering cutting back on :)
  • The B.
    "In Continental Europe though, the system is 4-2-2." If it's good enough for the French then it'll need improving on if it's to be safe.
  • bob
    Posted by Steve • January 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm For the past 15 years where has an MOT cost just £20? How does time off work to drop off car, pick up car, half a day off to take it back in to get new brake pads cost you just £3? The comparison is totally flawed £40 quid a year now or £40 every 2 years. so you save £40 every 2 years or £20 a year
  • Gunn
    If other countries use 4-2-2 and there is no evidence to suggest it makes cars more dangerous then we should definitely change. There have been some good suggestions about mileage checks and after a certain number of years so surely we can improve it and not compromise "safety"
  • corbyboy
    @Euan The safety argument doesn't do it for me. Where is the proof that an MOT every 2 years is less safe than an MOT every year. By your logic we should be campaigning to have an MOT done every month, because more frequent = more safe.
  • daniel
    @euan baboom, that's the answer. Take the car for a check that has no financial interest.
  • Touchwood
    What we need is the evidence of the continental experience in order to compare safety-related accidents here and there. If there's no statistically significant difference then 4-2-2 would appear to be a more suitable arrangement.
  • Euan
    4-2-2 wise - think about how many cars are MoT failures, possibly for dangerous faults. Now imagine those cars being on the road for another full year before being tested. What's the plus side?
  • Sicknote
    Knackered cars don't kill people, it's the little shits that drive them that kill people.
  • JonB
    Maybe they could switch it to a mileage-based system? Say have an MOT every 10,000 miles or 2 years depending on which comes first?
  • Jack
    If I didn't have to get an MOT every year, I'd be more inclined to service my car! JonB, your idea sounds very good to me! Maybe 12k / 2 years is a bit fairer.
  • Richard S.
    The safety thing worries me so I could not be in favour of reducing the frequency altogether. Perhaps there could be an arguement for a very thorough MOT (more thorough than the one we currently have) bianually with a 'quick checkup' to inspect tyre wear, brake wear etc on the alternate year. If the mini test only took 10 minutes and it was things that could be checked at home before you arrived, it might encourage people to actually inspect their cars regularly and therefore improve the overall condition of vehicles. JonB - great idea! 12k or 2 years does seem a reasonable milage / time gap between checks to me. Mind you, taxi drivers would forever be in the MOT station!
  • Alexis
    To be fair, I'd be driving around with a cracked coil spring if it wasn't for the annual MOT which could have gone at any moment and taken out the tyre. But my car is 9 years old. Maybe a 4-2-2-1-1... system would be the fairest?
  • Mike H.
    To be fair, dick-head Audi & BMW drivers have been saving money for years, not using indicators, cutting lanes on roundabouts to save tyre wear, 1" tail-gating to reduce drag, they also don't stop at junctions and roundabouts presumably to save their brakes.
  • Bon
    Why not allow cars that are serviced each year to be given a 1 year Mot extension. I.e. 1 year after your Mot if you have it serviced by a registered garage they can extend your Mot by 1 year; if you do not have it serviced you still have to have an MOT each year.
  • Mark W.
    As long as the penalty for having only one headlight working is raised to instant seizure and destruction of the offending vehicle, I'm broadly in favour.
  • Tony P.
    Why bother at all, I live in the state of Queensland in Australia. When you buy a secondhand car it gets a kinda check over - lights, brakes, horn, windscreen and wipers but thats basically it. As the rego ( registration licence ) becomes payable, as long as you pay the bill then the cars road safety is determined as fine !!. no more checks required. Thats say a period of 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 / 20 / 30+ years, yup, if you pay up on time the vehicles just fine. Some other states here don`t operate this system, having checks. But the road accident figures don`t show any particular difference between states that do or don`t. We can and do drive into other states and they don`t seem to mind this interesting contradiction in the testing standards of vehicles on their roads. After all - the law says vehicles should be in roadworthy condition at all times , so obviously they always are. So there -----

What do you think?

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