The motor industry is campaigning against changes to the car testing regime, highlighting safety risks that potential changes to the MoT system could cause.
Drivers would collectively save £100m a year under proposals being consulted on by the government to delay when a new car needs its first MoT test to check its roadworthiness from the current three years to four. The requirement for annual tests after that would remain.
Such a change would mean a financial hit to the industry in lost test fees, with about 2.5m cars taking their first test each year at a typical cost of about £45 for the checks which measure cars’ emissions levels, as well as safety and roadworthiness. Other revenue generated from replacement parts and labour would also be delayed.
Changing the first MoT would bring the UK into line with much of Europe - though the proposal is not related to EU regulations.
However, industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) is calling for the government to give up on the change, citing safety concerns.
SMMT research found eight out of 10 drivers said the test fee is worth the peace of mind of knowing a car is safe and legal. Seven out of 10 raised concerns that delaying a car’s first MOT could put them and other road users in danger.
The results drove the trade group to call for a U-turn on the plans, a reversal it said was backed by eight out 10 drivers.
“MoTs are is an essential check on the safety and roadworthiness of vehicles,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “Extending the first test from three to four years is not what consumers or industry want given the serious risk posed to road safety and vehicles’ environmental performance.”
Almost one in five cars fail the checks when they take their first MoT, according to the SMMT, which calculates an extra 500,000 unsafe cars could be on UK roads if the change were to go through.
Keeping the requirement has not found such strong support from motorists’ organisation the AA.
Its research revealed that 44pc of members backed the change, 26pc were against it with the remainder ambivalent.
Modern cars are becoming much more reliable and safer said Luke Bosdet, from the AA’s policy unit, and this could mean that MoTs are not required so soon in a vehicle’s life.
“Cars now have the ability to ‘squawk’ and tell their drivers when their is a problem with the tyres of battery, as well as more fundamental mechanical models,” he said.
“This could be an opportunity for the car industry to extend the warranty on new cars to four years, with drivers getting protection from their car alerting them to problems which need to be fixed.”