If you’re a motorist, then each year – provided your car is three years old or more – you’ll have to get a mechanic to give it the once-over as part of its MOT test. These checks are intended to ascertain whether or not your vehicle is still roadworthy. What’s more, if any adjustments are needed to keep your car in roadworthy condition, then an MOT test should make it clear just what these are.
The MOT test is needed to ensure that your vehicle meets certain legal requirements in terms of its condition and carbon emissions. Here is a brief history of how the MOT test came about, and what it means for motorists today.
The origins of the MOT test
Although the initial growth in the volume of motor traffic was initially relatively sluggish in Britain, it became clear after the second world war that the amount of traffic on UK roads was rising rapidly. What’s more, many of the vehicles which were being driven around the country weren’t in the best condition – a lot of cars and trucks which had been manufactured before the war were in decidedly shoddy condition by the 1950s.
With so many vehicles in substandard condition and others simply downright unsafe, there was growing pressure on the government to step in and take action. This prompted then-transport minister Ernest Marples to announce in 1960 that all vehicles of ten years old or over would need to have their steering, brakes and lights checked annually.
The Ministry of Transport test was born – and, of course, the shortened MOT name persists to this day. However, at the time it was first introduced it was generally referred to as the “ten-year test”. In 1967, the age at which cars should be tested was reduced to three years.
The EU and the MOT test
Since Britain’s entry into the European Union in 1993, a number of changes have been made to the way motor vehicles are assessed. For one thing, there are various EU directives in place which dictate certain minimum standards for vehicle testing. All EU member states are required to abide by these as part of the effort to harmonise vehicle maintenance standards across the trading bloc.
However, member states are free to impose more stringent standards over and above those required by the EU under the subsidiarity principle. Some EU countries require bi-annual vehicle testing, whereas in the UK it takes place on an annual basis.
Here in the UK, the British government ultimately remains in charge of MOT testing. Only certain designated testing stations are approved by the Vehicle Operator and Services Agency, the government body tasked with upholding MOT testing standards. Originally, the government had intended to allow local garages to carry out MOT tests, but it was eventually decided that approved testing stations would offer the most effective way of imposing a uniform standard and thereby improving the reliability of the MOT assessment.
There are currently around 19,000 testing stations located across the UK, with 50,000 qualified MOT testers working at them.
If you are worried that your car might fail its MOT inspection, here is a handy checklist provided by Motorparks.co.uk to give you an idea of what to look at before taking your car in to be tested. If you can tick all of these boxes, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
So with all that in mind, is your car ready to take its MOT test?