The MOT Test at 60 Years Old

The MOT Test had its 60th Birthday on the 12th of September 2020 and, like the rest of us, it has undergone some changes over the last 6 decades!

The Test was introduced on Monday 12th September 1960 – 60 years ago!
At that time it was voluntary and only applied to cars aged ten years or older.

The introduction of MOT Tests 60 years ago

The cost of the test was fourteen shillings, plus an extra shilling for the certificate – providing your car actually passed…

At that time, there were around 1.5 million cars aged a decade or more on the road. Compare that with the over 40 Million car on the road as of April 2020!

Following the second world war and into the late 1950s most people purchased second hand cars and light vans, many of which were originally manufactured before 1940 and vast numbers of which were not in ‘tip top’ condition, nor were they regularly serviced. As a result there were numerous vehicles being used on the road which were potentially dangerous. In particular they often had defective brakes, lights and/or steering.

As a result of this, in 1960 the then Ministry of Transport under the direction of the Minister of Transport Mr Ernest Marples decided that all vehicles over ten years old should have their brakes, lights and steering checked every year.

This became known as the “ten year Test”, or alternatively the Ministry Of Transport Test – which became shortened to ‘MOT’. 

The failure rate of the early tests was vast. The Minister of Transport, noted that of the cars examined at the Ministry’s own centre, some 52 % failed the test which resulted in the MOT test becoming compulsory on 15th February 1961.
From 31st December 1961, the test applied to cars aged seven years or more – a move prompted by the volume of failure rates.
By 1962 a tax disc was dependent on a pass certificate. Commercial vehicles were now deemed to be “Testable”.

The Testable age was progressively reduced to 3 years by April 1967.

Tyres were included in the test by 1968. Cars needed to have 1mm tread across ¾ of the total width.

The Ministry of Transport ceased to exist in 1970, but the term “MOT” would live on.  The MOT was considerably expanded in 1977 to include the condition of the body and chassis, the brake lights, the indicators, the horn and the exhaust system.

In 1983 the age of taxis, ambulances and vehicles with more than eight passenger seats (excluding the driver’s seat) eligible for the MOT was reduced to one year.

1991 saw the introduction of tests for anti-lock brakes, emissions checks for petrol-driven cars, rear seat belts and, where applicable, rear-wheel bearings and steering.  

In 1992 the minimum tyre tread became 1.6mm.

All diesel engine cars were tested for emissions from 1994 onwards.

2005 marked the advent of electronic certificates and automatic MOT bays.

By 2012, the test encompassed steering locks, the battery, wiring, secondary restraint systems and the speedometer. From 18th November 2012, pre-1960 cars would be exempt from MOT.

MOT Changes from 20th of May 2018

From 20th May 2018, cars registered over 40 years ago will no longer require a MoT certificate.  It is still incumbent on the owner to ensure the vehicle is in roadworthy condition and safe for use.  You can still voluntarily have your vehicle tested.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, a 6 month extension was given to vehicles requiring an MOT Test which expired for vehicles needing a test on August 31st and afterwards.

You can read about MOT exemptions for Classic Vehicles by clicking ‘HERE’ – This takes you to the website.

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