Mystery as British cars are five times more likely to fail MOTs


Road safety research has revealed an unexplained gulf between British and European MOT standards as nearly five times more vehicles fail their first time test.

In Britain, 27% of three-year-old cars fail the MOT test – but in France where cars do not have to go for testing until they are aged four, only 6% of vehicles do not pass.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) uncovered the anomaly while researching what British motorists thought about aligning the MOT test with the rest of Europe.

Britain has a 3-1-1 system – with cars undergoing their first MOT at 3 years old and annually thereafter – while France and most European countries have a 4-2-2 system.

Under 4-2-2, the first test is at four year’s old and then at no more than two year intervals.

A new European directive sets this as a minimum MOT requirement.

According to the survey, six out of 10 motorists want the British MOT system to stay the same, while 29% favour shifting to the European option.

Drivers also have concerns about the garages that carry out the tests:

  • 63% think the test picks up potential dangers
  • 30% believe garages are not independent enough to conduct MOTs
  • 26% think that garages deliberately find things wrong to charge higher bills
  • 40% feel garages are not consistent in conducting tests

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “In a time when people are struggling financially, the MOT seems to be one cost they are happy to pay. The IAM is wary of abandoning our well-established and accepted cycle of MOT testing. The poll suggests that most motorists are happy with it.

“But the question needs to be asked, why are so many cars in the UK failing at only three years, and why does France have a much better pass rate at four years? Before any change to the system, the government should commission a review to assure motorists that MOT tests are safe, reliable and consistent. The test should be for the benefit of road safety – not the garages that carry it out.”

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