The fleet industry is divided as to whether the Government should increase the first MOT test from three to four years.
A majority (58%) said in a Fleet News poll that it did not support an increase, while 42% thought it was a good idea.
The Government is considering making changes to the test which could bring it in line with its European equivalent, where cars are not tested until they are four years old. They are then re-tested every second year following that.
Road safety minister Mike Penning said: “The MOT test plays an important role in making sure vehicles are roadworthy and should strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists.
“We intend to undertake a review of the MOT testing regime, but have made no decisions about any changes to the system.”
However, those in favour of increasing the first MOT test from three to four years told Fleet News that such a change should only be introduced if a vehicle’s annual mileage was being taken into account.
One respondent added: “I believe vehicles will be unsafe if doing more than 100,000 miles in three years without having a MOT. Vehicles are more reliable these days across the board, but there is a reason why manufacturers only have a maximum of 100,000-mile warranty.”
In 2007, 21.6% (580,754) of three-year-old cars failed their first test and among the 836,646 individual failure faults, the top two reasons were lighting and signalling, with 271,567 failures, and tyres and wheels, with 155,489.
The IAM has welcomed the wholesale review of the MOT. However Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “It is essential that the underlying reasons for so many relatively new cars failing are investigated before any changes are made to MOT test frequency.”
Figures supplied to the IAM Trust show that in some countries where they apply the EU-minimum four years for the first roadworthiness test, the failure rate is lower than in the UK.
In France it is around 5%; in Switzerland it is 17.5%; and in Norway it is 19.9%. However, the failure rate in Spain is higher than the UK at 32%.
Meanwhile in countries that also test for the first time at three years, failure rates are far lower than in the UK, with Germany at 4.8% and Austria at 10%.