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First MOT test will remain at three years

Richard Aucock

Written By Richard Aucock

The government has decided to keep the current requirement for a first MOT test after three years, following feedback from motorists and road safety organisations.

Back in January 2023, the government launched consultation around extending the time before a car needed its first MOT to four years.

The consultation also included an investigation into whether the annual MOT test could be extended to two years, rather than the current annual MOT test.

Both ideas were roundly criticised by road safety organisations, with the RAC’s Simon Williams calling the thought of a biannual MOT test a “madcap idea”.

A first MOT is required after three years, and every year afterwards – rules that now will not be changed.

Why did the government consult on updating MOT testing?

The Department for Transport opened consultation about amending the date of the first MOT for cars, vans and motorcycles from three to four years.

It also looked at other areas that could be considered for reform in the future, such as biannual testing.

It sought feedback on what people thought the first date of an MOT test should be, how making any changes would affect business, and whether any other changes should be introduced to the MOT test.

Plenty of feedback was certainly forthcoming, with more than 4400 responses received. The verdict was also overwhelming.

“Given the significant concerns about road safety that were raised,” said the DfT, “the government does not intend to proceed in changing the date of a vehicle’s first MOT.”

It did, however, find more support for an improved diesel emissions test. “We have also identified five priority areas for future reform, including electric vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems.”

What does the industry say about the decision?

“AA polling showed drivers overwhelmingly [almost 9 in 10] supported the annual MOT for keeping their cars and other cars safe,” said AA CEO Jakob Pfaudler. “With 1 in 10 cars failing their first MOT, we fully support the government’s pragmatic decision to maintain the first MOT at three years and annually thereafter.”

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the decision to retain the existing MOT system “is the right one… giving drivers confidence in car and van roadworthiness”.

IAM RoadSmart director Nicholas Lyes agreed the MOT “gives drivers confidence their vehicle is confirming to minimum roadworthiness standards, and many see it as an essential technical health check

“Well-maintained vehicles make our roads safer and reduce the chances of collisions caused by worn-out parts and more serious defects.”

Roads minister Guy Opperman added that, with modern car technology constantly improving, the Department for Transport will now “work closely with industry stakeholders and drivers to establish a programme of longer-term reform for MOTs”.

This will include further improvements to the MOT test for electric cars, and possibly transferring some larger zero-emission vans to the more standard car-style MOT test.

By law, cars need to take their first MOT once they reach three years of age. After that, they are required to have an MOT test every year.

Cars aged 40 years and older are considered ‘historic cars’, and are not legally required to have an annual MOT test. However, many safety experts advise owners take a voluntary annual MOT test, which many still do. The historic exemption works on a rolling 40-year basis.

The government began consultation on extending the MOT test to try and save motorists money. However, rather than costing extra, AA analysis indicates that an annual MOT test can potentially save motorists between £200 and £400 a year, by picking up on developing faults before they become more serious (and expensive) further down the road.


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