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Current laws that allow cars registered before 1960 to avoid having to have a regular MOT may be extended to fall in line with EU directives, which means that cars that are 30 years old or older would also be able to give the annual test a miss. Classic cars tend to have very high MOT pass rates, because their owners do typically take good care of them, but there is a worry that by reducing the car age exemption, it will mean that more cars that would not be considered roadworthy will hit the streets. The DfT has said that cars that have been heavily modified will not be exempt, which will prevent people from putting a classic car chassis on a new engine in order to simply avoid having to have the car MOTed for another year.

Current legislation means that once a car reaches the third anniversary of its registration, it must have an MOT test to determine whether it is safe to be on the roads and to ensure that it passes current emission level requirements. Beyond its third anniversary, a car should have an annual MOT and is not allowed on the road if it fails the MOT. Only those vehicles registered before 1960 are currently exempt.

EU regulations are not actually as strict as the current UK law, demanding that a car only need have its first MOT after four years of having been registered, and that vehicles only need to have an MOT every two years. The UK government has said that it will not be lowering requirements in order to fall in line, and the EU directives are meant as a minimum requirement, so that member states are free to demand more stringent and more regular testing requirements.

Critics of the proposals have warned that while classics and antiques may be well cared for, continuing to reduce the age at which a car does not need an MOT will eventually mean that poorly kept cars, that are simply old rather than classics, will be able to get away without having to have an MOT and that this could lead to more dangerous roads for all drivers.