An in-depth report looking into the impact of delaying MOTs has suggested that it will ‘have a detrimental impact on safety as a whole’ – and could increase the number of electric cars on the road with dangerously worn and damaged tyres.
A Government consultation on extending first MOTs from three to four years and then biennially thereafter was launched in January and is due to conclude later this month (22 March).
It could result in the biggest shake-up of MOTs for decades, with MPs believing that making these changes will collectively save motorists around £100million a year while having little to no impact of road safety.
However, the Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) strongly disagrees in the findings of a new study shared exclusively with This is Money. One of its chief concerns involves the heavier wear on electric cars’ tyres not being picked up on by owners.
The IMI has raised fresh concerns about the DfT’s proposed extension to MOTs, saying it could result in an increase in electric vehicles on the road with defective tyres
The main argument put forward by MPs for extending MOT schedules hinges on electric cars becoming more popular as we get closer to the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel models from 2030.
With EVs having fewer moving parts to check, ministers believe the existing frequency of MOTs is no longer required.
A raft of safety technology fitted to all modern cars is another reason for MPs to call for an extension to periods between tests (which are capped at £54.85) in a bid to help ease the financial strain on drivers.
However, the suggestion to delay MOTs has already faced criticism from road safety campaigners who are concerned that it could result in a rise in casualties and tarnish Britain’s long-standing reputation for having some of the safest roads in the world.
And now the IMI has voiced its opposition to the contents of the consultation.
Based on detailed research – which the institute believes no one else has looked at in the same depth – it has found that increasing the time before a vehicle’s first MOT would not only be ‘detrimental for road safety as a whole’, but in particular would ‘present a significant risk to consumer confidence in electric vehicles’.
Its primary concern around EVs is their higher proportion of MOT failures than petrols, and the main cause for flunking the test being defective tyres.
The institute says this is due to electric cars being heavier and having more torque and faster acceleration, which wears rubber quicker.
The combined impact is faster tyre wear than for comparable petrol or diesel models, it says.
However, tyre manufacturers dispute this suggestion, claiming they often last longer than tyres fitted to combustion engine cars. This is due to their different compounds and structures, which are specifically designed around the increased weight of the vehicles.
Yet the institute points to Department for Transport data that shows EVs having a higher failure rate than petrols dating back to 2012 – and this is primarily a result of tyre problem.
The latest records (2021) show that 11.51 per cent of EVs undergoing their first MOTs fail.
This is lower than diesel cars being tested for the first time (15.98 per cent) but higher than petrol (10.89 per cent).
DfT figures show that 46% of all MOT initial failure defects for EVs are linked to issues with tyres. This is far higher than both petrol and diesel cars (32% and 29% respectively)
The MOT checks a number of parts such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes to ensure they meet legal standards. The Government wants to extend first MOTs from 3 to 4 years and make them biennial thereafter rather than an annual check-up
Analysis shows that 46 per cent of initial failure defects for electric cars are linked to the poor condition of their rubber.
For petrol and diesel models, tyres is the initial defect in just 32 per cent and 29 per cent of MOT fails respectively.
The IMI believes that if EV tyres are left unchecked for an additional year, these cars will likely pose a greater threat on the road, especially to more vulnerable users.
The DfT’s latest road casualty figures show 26 people were killed in crashes in Britain in 2021 when vehicle defects were a contributory factor.
While faulty brakes were by far the most common defect type – causing a total of 750 casualties in 2021 and being one of the causes of 10 fatalities – tyres were the second most common defect linked to accidents and were among the contributing factors in 491 injuries.
And worn and underinflated tyres were most commonly linked vehicle defect to the cause of death on the road, with 12 people needlessly losing their lives in collisions involving vehicles with worn or illegal rubber.
While the DfT wants to delay MOT schedules, its latest road casualty stats showed a rise in the number of collisions where vehicle defects – such as badly worn tyres – are a contributory factor to injuries in crashes
|Contributory factor reported in collision||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Tyres illegal, defective or under inflated||1,238||968||1,125||908||876||719||711||597||507||491|
|Defective lights or indicators||256||201||236||167||187||191||166||162||181||174|
|Defective steering or suspension||396||451||481||380||357||391||325||283||254||255|
|Defective or missing mirrors||19||20||11||14||13||22||17||14||9||16|
|Overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer||310||317||395||264||236||162||146||149||117||140|
|Source: Department for Transport Reported road casualties, by severity, road user type and contributory factor, Great Britain, ten years up to 2021 – All casualties
N.B. The total defects will not match the sum of the itemised factors as some casualties can have multiple contributory factors
The IMI says the full findings in its report will be shared with the DfT as its official response to the consultation.
‘With the majority of first MOT tests taking place coupled with routine maintenance it is shocking that these figures exist for failure rates at all, suggesting that many of these vehicles have not been subject to routine maintenance that would pick these items prior to MOT test,’ explains Hayley Pells, policy manager at the IMI.
Most common reasons for cars to fail an MOT in 2021
1. Lighting and signalling (18.9%)
2. Suspension (13%)
3. Brakes (10%)
4. Tyres (7.7%)
5. Issues affecting the driver’s view of the road (7.2%)
‘The IMI’s response to the MOT Consultation will therefore strongly advise that increasing the time before a periodic inspection of cars is detrimental for road safety.
‘It reduces the frequency of maintenance and inspections that are critical to ensuring that vehicles are in good condition and performing at their best.’
Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 for using a vehicle without a valid MOT and it will also invalidate their insurance.
The tests check a number of parts such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes to ensure they meet legal standards.
MPs have also argued that extending current MOT schedules would put Britain in line with other European nations like Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal where cars have their first roadworthiness check at four years and once every two years after that.
But industry insiders are not just worried about the impact on road casualty stats – which in Britain are lower than almost all other countries – but are concerned that a reduction in testing will put many independent operators who rely on MOT income out of businesses.