Plans to scrap the annual MOT in favour of a test every two years could see up to 2.5 million cars and vans with dangerous faults allowed to remain on the road, according to vehicle experts.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps is reported to have suggested the change as a way to help ease the cost of living crisis.
However, as well as only saving drivers £27 a year, the idea has been widely condemned by motoring experts, who have warned it could have a serious effect on road safety.
In the financial year 2020/21, almost a third (30.23%) of the 30 million cars and vans presented for an MOT failed the test at the first attempt.
More worryingly, one in 10 - 2.57m - failed due to at least one “dangerous” defect as defined by the MOT testers’ guide.
Karen Rotberg, co-founder of maintenance specialists Book My Garage warned that scrapping the annual MOT would mean these vehicles could be left on the roads for long periods with dangerous defects unaddressed.
She said: “This could be genuinely dangerous for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and we would be seeing cars on the roads with serious defects.”
While lighting faults are the most common cause of MOT failure, the next most common are safety critical elements including brakes (7% of all failures) tyre defects (7%) and suspension (10%).
Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garage Association, called the plan ”dangerous, unwanted and unreasonable”. He said: “In times of economic hardship, it’s known that drivers cut back on servicing their cars and it’s the annual MOT that has kept the UK’s road safety at high levels thanks to the vital safety checks it carries out.”
The RAC’s head of policy Nicholas Lyes echoed that view, saying: “The purpose of an MOT is to ensure vehicles meet a basic level of safety for driving on our roads. Shifting it from annually to every two years would see a dramatic increase in the number of unroadworthy vehicles and could make our roads far less safe.”
Karen Rotberg also warned that the move would not save drivers money in the long run. She said: “Having your vehicle checked less regularly is akin to putting off visiting the doctor and just like with healthcare issues, things can get a lot worse if you delay. Some of the more serious defects could be very expensive to repair, yet with early intervention, the extra expenditure could be avoided.
“Our research shows that 67% of motorists book services at the same time as their MOT. This means there is a high chance of many vehicle services being missed out on too, which could also lead to increased costs to motorists due to accelerated engine wear and greater fuel consumption.”