Biennial MOTs sound like trouble | Thank Frankel it’s Friday
What did you think when you heard about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ suggestion that MOTs might become biennial events to help bring down the cost of living? My gut reaction was that this was good news. And then I thought about it a bit harder.
Like I imagine most reading this, I am lucky enough not to find the cost of MOT-ing my cars unduly financially burdensome. There’s a part of me that would rather save the money of course, but actually there’s a rather larger part that’s quite glad I’m forced to get someone who knows what they’re looking at to cast an eye over my motors once a year. And as I am sufficiently organised to coincide the MOT with an annual service, it’s not costing me any time to go and get it done.
And just occasionally they find something I’d never have spotted that could have landed me in a bunch of trouble, especially on a car I’ve just bought. Brake discs on a Peugeot 205GTI that were so worn that had I gone on the track day I was planning without replacing them and got them properly hot, I’d probably have ended up in the wall. What could have happened if they’d not spotted the egg-shaped bulge on the inside of a tyre belonging to my daughters’ Toyota Aygo is something I’d rather not dwell upon. Of course, a year is a long time, and all manner of faults and failings can manifest themselves before the next MOT is due, but two years is even longer.
I have never been a fan of the 40-year MOT exemption, despite it being intended to encourage historic car ownership. And I understand that, but I think the Government had this idea that everyone who owned such a car was a retired old gentleman who passed his leisure time at his lathe lovingly crafting new components for the MGB roadster in which he passed his test 60 years ago. In fact, thousands of these cars are in a state of disrepair when bought, and then poorly maintained, if maintained at all, thereafter. Sadly, the point at which they are no longer roadworthy is some distance from the point at which they can no longer be driven on the road, and the MOT was, for most, the only way of telling the difference.
Many will think the chances of a modern car becoming unroadworthy in its early years are vanishingly small, but of course they reckon without consumables such as tyres and brakes, which are just as likely to cause an accident if worn out or defective as a far older car in need of a spot of chassis welding.
I feel also for the small garage owner for whom the MOT was such an important component of their business. The fact the cost of the test returns little or no profit is not the point; it’s the fixing of problems, the services that get done in the meantime and, probably most important of all, the face-to-face contact with the customer that matters most. Will owners of older cars who had them serviced because they had to go for an MOT anyway continue to do so? Some will, others undoubtedly won’t.
And what of those for whom the cost of the MOT is a genuine financial burden? It’s a difficult question to answer, but they only need to breakdown once and require recovering for a fault an MOT would have otherwise picked up for that test to justify its value.
I don’t have the answers to the cost of living crisis, but to me, doubling the period of time between MOTs seems likely to create more problems than it solves.