Many drivers get very anxious when it's time for the annual MOT, wondering what surprises the tester will find hidden beneath the bonnet of our pride and joy. Wouldn't it be nice not to need an MOT every year? You might think that the only way to avoid the annual test is to buy a brand new car and keep changing it for a new one before it reaches its third birthday, but believe it or not there is another, perhaps cheaper way! If you want to banish the MOT forever, you should be thinking about old rather than new. A recent change in the law means that most cars registered more than 40 years ago no longer require an MOT test. Let's have a look at the rules in more detail.
Previously, the only MOT exempt cars were those registered before 1960, so anyone who happened to own a car from 1961 would still need to MOT their car each year, even though it is now well over 50 years old. This proved to be a rather strange and unfair rule, so the law changed in May 2018 and now most cars over 40 years old are exempt. This is a rolling 40 years rather than a specific date, so as of 2020 cars registered in 1980 will be exempt. This new rule also applies to motorcycles and other light vehicles. So as soon as your car reaches 40 years from the date of registration, you can apply for the exemption.
How do I register the exemption?
If your classic car has reached its 40th birthday, the MOT exemption doesn't happen automatically. You need to head to your local post office when you tax your car and complete a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) form, known as a V112 form. This is a declaration that you are claiming the MOT exemption. The good news is that you can also claim an exemption to paying Road Fund Licence, so while you'll still need to tax your vehicle each year, you won't need to pay anything. Renewals of the exemption or your car tax exemption can then be made online, so you don't need to trek down to the post office every year. There are some benefits to classic car ownership, you know!
Are there any exceptions?
Of course, there is always a catch! The DVLA sets out a number of rules where you may still need an MOT for old cars. The exemption does not always apply to large goods vehicles, which are treated slightly differently. If they are going to be used laden with goods then they will still need an MOT test each year. Cars registered on a Q plate and kit cars will also need an annual MOT test, as well as any vehicle that has been "substantially changed" from how it was when it was new. This could include chassis replacements, engine replacements or changes to major components such as gearboxes. The rules do get a little more complicated once you get into this territory, so if you're unsure whether your vehicle's modifications count as substantial changes or it will qualify for the exemption, have a look at the DVLA guidance here. There is also more detail about what is defined as a "substantial change."
Any other rules?
Having MOT exempt cars does not mean that they do not need some form of check to make sure they are safe to drive. Any car used on the road must still be in a safe and roadworthy condition by law, so many classic car owners will still voluntarily decide to get an MOT for old cars. Even if you don't need it by law, the MOT test is still one of the best ways of getting an independent inspection and making sure that there are no serious or dangerous faults on your car which could make it unroadworthy. So if you're not technically minded, you might still want to get a voluntary MOT test for your own reassurance.
So there you have it! If you really want a way around the annual MOT, then maybe it's time to start shopping for a classic car. There's more information here if you'd like to learn more. Alternatively, if you'd prefer a newer car than an old one, pop along to Thame Cars where we have a large selection of nearly new cars available, under two years old and with less than 25000 miles. They're prepared to as new condition and they don't yet need an MOT either! But when it does come to MOT time, we offer full MOT and servicing facilities here at Thame Cars, and we promise it won't be a scary experience! Visit our website here to find out more or to book online.