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.