One in five cars fail first MOTMore cars pass in other EU countries, says IAM

07 May 2008

Car mechanic working under the bonnet

More than 20% of cars fail their first MOT test, giving the UK one of the worst records in Europe, figures out today showed.

In 2007, a total of 21.6% of three-year-old vehicles in the UK did not pass the MOT, figures obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Trust revealed.

The trust said this compared unfavourably with many European countries - some of which test cars for the first time after four years rather than the UK minimum of three years.

Failure rates

France, for example, had a 5.61% failure rate, while Switzerland had 17.5% and Norway 19.9%. Spain, at 32%, has a much higher rate of failure.

Germany, where cars have to take an MOT test after three years, has a failure rate of just 4.8%, while Austria, another three-year country, had a 10% failure rate.

The IAM Trust, which obtained the UK figures under the Freedom of Information Act, said lighting and signalling problems were the chief cause of UK failures, followed by tyres and wheels and problems associated with drivers' views, including cracked windscreens.

Longer gap

The trust's director, Neil Greig, said: 'The high UK failure rates may argue against relaxing our MOT testing regime from three to four years on road safety grounds. But do we have the full picture?'

He said Lord Davidson's report into EU legislation had recommended the UK moving from the three year to the four year period for a vehicle's first MOT, saving UK motorists £465 million a year in MOT fees.

Mr Greig went on: 'As a result (of the Davidson Report), the Department for Transport prepared a consultation that was due out in the summer of 2007 but has not appeared.

'In the meantime, motorists have seen no action and may have incurred nearly £1 billion in costs for the current MOT testing system. Who can blame them for worrying about being ripped off?'

Drivers suspicious

He added that an IAM Trust survey last year showed that motorists viewed the MOT test as an essential road safety measure but that they suspected that failures were influenced by a garage's wish to carry out unnecessary work.

'It's time for government to get MOT testing out of the "all too difficult" box; MOTorists have waited too long for answers to important questions,' Mr Greig said.

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