Ted Con­nolly

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

YOU will al­most cer­tainly know of the Govern­ment’s pro­pos­als to in­tro­duce a 40year rolling MOT ex­emp­tion for cars in May 2018. In brief, it means that any­thing over the age of 40 doesn’t legally have to be tested – that is, ve­hi­cles made be­fore 1978.

By the time you read this, many hundreds, maybe thou­sands, of col­umn inches will have been de­voted to the sub­ject and in­ter­net chat sites will have been rocked by a huge on­slaught from blog­gers, ob­servers, clas­sic car fans and just about any­body else who can muster up the en­thu­si­asm to get to a key­board. There­fore, my puny lit­tle words will be lost in this avalanche. But never mind, it’s one of those sub­jects that just has to be com­mented upon.

Un­der cur­rent UK reg­u­la­tions, pre-1960 cars are ex­empt from be­ing tested and that leg­is­la­tion slipped into place without too much fuss, de­spite cries that there would be car­nage on our high­ways caused by un­road­wor­thy ve­hi­cles.

At the time, I was op­posed to the idea, but it seems the Govern­ment’s ar­gu­ment that any­body who runs a car of that age would al­most cer­tainly bother to keep it in good con­di­tion has proved to be jus­ti­fied. I’m still not

‘Many se­ri­ous faults are only spot­ted when a car is up in the air’

con­vinced, but sta­tis­ti­cally there is noth­ing to prove that these old mo­tors are pos­ing a threat.

How­ever, it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mat­ter for 40-yearold ve­hi­cles, be­cause there are still a fair few 1970s jalop­ies run­ning around as ev­ery­day trans­port. The new rul­ing – along with road tax ex­emp­tion which runs in par­al­lel age-wise – is an open in­vi­ta­tion to pen­nypinch­ers and those with an ir­re­spon­si­ble at­ti­tude to get hold of an old nail and drive it re­gard­less of con­di­tion. Yes, I am well aware that you have to legally keep any ve­hi­cle in road­wor­thy con­di­tion, re­gard­less of age, but ac­tu­ally en­forc­ing that without a test is nigh-on im­pos­si­ble. Af­ter all, how would a po­lice of­fi­cer know that, say, a Mor­ris Ma­rina trundling around has a rusty un­der­side, whereas check­ing the ex­is­tence of an MOT cer­tifi­cate is sim­ply a case of num­ber­plate recog­ni­tion.

It is es­ti­mated that 293,000 ve­hi­cles will be newly ex­empt from next year, with the num­ber grow­ing each year. The Govern­ment gives sev­eral rea­sons for in­tro­duc­ing the new rul­ing, in­clud­ing that cars of this age are usu­ally kept in road­wor­thy con­di­tion, they are not used that of­ten and the mod­ern MOT is no longer suit­able for older cars, so test cen­tres can’t deal with them prop­erly.

These ar­gu­ments do have mer­its, of course, but it is hu­man na­ture to try to save money and it is a bet­ter than even bet that some own­ers – I want to say many, but hope that isn’t the case – will treat this as a means of do­ing pre­cisely that. Also, it is hu­man na­ture (par­tic­u­larly for the male species) to as­sume that they know best. Af­ter all, ev­ery ma­cho bloke can main­tain his car per­fectly and doesn’t need to be told what needs do­ing by a mere MOT tester, does he? It’s the same sort of at­ti­tude adopted when a flat­pack comes with as­sem­bly in­struc­tions, but Mr Know-itall re­fuses to read them.

Even con­sci­en­tious own­ers – those who ac­tu­ally care about road­wor­thi­ness – need the help of a pro­fes­sional. A per­sonal in­spec­tion of your car might not, for ex­am­ple, re­veal rusty sus­pen­sion mount­ings, per­ished brake hoses or cracked in­ner tyre walls. Those types of faults are only gen­er­ally spot­ted when a car is up in the air.

As an owner of a 1962 car (a Mor­ris Mi­nor, which you have prob­a­bly read about) and 1967 mo­tor­cy­cle (a Royal En­field, which you will not have read about), you’d think that I would wel­come this new ex­emp­tion, be­cause it will a) save me cash and b) save me has­sle. For ex­am­ple, at the last MOT, our Mi­nor earned an ad­vi­sory for per­ished tyres. The treads are fine, but the walls had sim­ply de­te­ri­o­rated with age. Un­der the new rul­ing, the car would never need test­ing again and I wouldn’t have to fork out around £250 for boots all round. Bril­liant. But I don’t wel­come next year’s ex­emp­tion and I will fork out for new rub­ber, even though I could eas­ily get away with it, be­cause it mat­ters.

I will con­tinue to get all of my ve­hi­cles pro­fes­sion­ally in­spected ev­ery year, just for peace of mind. There is no point in pussy­foot­ing around with fancy words and ar­gu­ments: the new rul­ing is com­plete and ut­ter mad­ness.

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