cars on road today

MOT Exemption Increase Proposed

Government has proposes increasing the MOT exemption period from three to four years.

One of the most important dates to remember when it comes to car ownership is your MOT due date.  This starts on the third anniversary of your car’s registration, and then every year following.  But this exemption period could rise to four years in 2018.

Why three years?

When the MOT was originally introduced in 1960, the test was far more basic.  Only brakes, light and steering were on the checklist, and the test was only carried out after ten years.  However, the high failure rate saw the exemption period drop first to seven years in 1961, then to three years in 1967.   This three year exemption period has been the standard ever since.

Times are changing

The Department of Transport have cited improvements in safety technology as justification for the changes.  With increasingly high car safety standards, new cars stay roadworthy longer.  In 2015 only 57 accidents were attributed to a vehicle defect.  This compares to 155 in 2006.

Increasing the exemption period also has popular support.  An AA poll of more than 19,000 drivers carried out in November found that 44% were in favour of the four year exemption.  This compares to just 26% opposed.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

While cars are undeniably safer than they were when the three year exemption was introduced 1967, there are downsides to an increase.  While things like emissions and ABS are unlikely to fail at three years, some items may not make it to four.  Increasing the exemption period could see more cars with faulty tyres and lights “slipping through the net”, comments AA president Edmund King.

Firmly on the side of maintaining the current three year exemption is the Retail Motor Industry Federation (FMI).   They, alongside many road safety groups, motoring organisation and industry bodies are opposing the change.  Their coalition, ProMOTe, argues the change is “dangerous, expensive and unnecessary”.

So the question is, do the savings in both time and money to drivers outweigh the risks of faulty items being missed?  In theory, these items should still be checked alongside annual servicing as part of the Visual Health Check.  But there is no legal requirement to have your car serviced.  Having the MOT exemption period set to three years could provide a safety net for cars that miss their annual services.


At T W White & Sons, we offer MOT tests at all three of our aftersales centres.  To find out more, or to book in, simply fill out an enquiry form online, or contact one of our aftersales sites at Byfleet and Bookham, Surrey, and Orpington, Kent.