September 5, 2018

Sharp drop in classic car MOTs since new exemption rules

The number of classic cars undergoing MOTs has plummeted since the Government introduced an exemption from the test in May this year.

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show the number of classics eligible for Vehicle of Historic Interest status getting MOTs halved in the first full month of testing since the law change.

There were 12,635 MOT tests on these classics in June 2018, a sharp drop from the same month last year, when 25,369 took the test.

The figures have raised concerns that the roadworthiness levels of classic cars may drop, as they’re no longer subject to regular checks.

Major shake-up

The exemption for cars registered as Vehicles of Historic Interest was introduced by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 22 May, in a major shake-up for the market.

But exemptions have not been rolled out to all classics as owners have to declare the eligibility of their own vehicles, with cars that have been heavily modified not entitled to skip the test.

The move was brought in following consultation by the DfT last year, despite 55% of respondents being opposed to the introduction of MOT exemptions.

In a statement, the DfT said “We know that cars of this age are usually maintained and the overall risks are low. We fully considered the safety impacts of changing the threshold for exemption from the MOT before introducing these changes.”

Regular testing

Fuzz Townsend, who set up the Classic Aware scheme to promote regular testing for classic cars, said he was not surprised by the drop in MOT numbers.

He said: “I’ll bet that the figure falls to 30% of the 2017 figure or even lower by this time next year. There are some well-meaning and diligent classic owners out there who will be thinking that they can put getting their car off until next month, and then the next month, and then the month after that, and then falling into the habit of not getting their cars looked at.”

Mr Townsend advised classic owners to keep an eye on their motors when making checks on their oil, tyres, and fluid levels to help make sure that their vehicles don’t develop any serious problems.

The Footman James View

At Footman James we think that just because you are exempt for MOT checks, doesn't mean that you shouldn't get one. This is because, in the event of a claim, an engineer is usually appointed to inspect the vehicle to see if there is any evidence that the classic vehicle was in an unroadworthy condition prior to the loss and had therefore contributed to the accident. If it seems as though the vehicle was neglected and in an unroadworthy condition, the insurer could repudiate the claim. 

Our advice is that you should continue to get your classic car or classic bike tested, whether you are exempt or not, as this will not only help secure you in the event of an incident but will also provide you peace of mind that a professional has checked your classic vehicle over too.