It’s an annual chore seldom prepared for and often a financial clattering.
When your car is in for its MOT, you lose the ability to answer your phone as it sits buzzing on the desk, and after clearing your throat, the only option is to put on your best jovial voice as you utter: “Go on, what’s the damage.”
Even if you’re like I am, and the MOT dates for your cars are ringed in the diary, they still seem to creep up quickly enough to drain valuable funds which were earmarked for more fun endeavours in the run-up to pay day.
Yes MOT tests aren’t overly expensive. Garages are allowed to charge a maximum of £54.85 and most will do one for around the £30.
But many of us get the dreaded call telling us not to pick our car up just yet. Excessive play in a suspension arm, corrosion in mountings and a patch of welding somewhere can crop up for older car owners, making us wish we’d either had jobs seen to in a more timely fashion or just owned a newer car for this one day of the year.
But the MOT test is also a matter of safety. And while it isn’t a proof of roadworthiness (the theory being that as a certificate lasts for 12 months, a car can hold a valid MOT and not be roadworthy) it is up to us as motorists, and a legal requirement, to ensure our cars are roadworthy. This is especially important for classic car owners, as many people perceive them to be more unsafe than their modern counterparts, meaning we as owners have to be vigilant in ensuring our cars are as safe as they can be.
The MOT was introduced in 1960, at the time for cars over 10 years old, and this was brought down to the current three years in 1967, but the government is considering changing this.
They are revisiting an idea which was dropped in 2012 of new cars only needing to be tested four years on from the date of their registration, instead of the current three. The idea being modern cars are much safer according transport minister Andrew Jones. He said: “New vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago and so it is only right we bring the MOT test up to date to help save motorists money where we can.”
This is following a public consultation in which 44 per cent of respondents were in favour of the idea while a further third didn’t have a view either way.
If this change is brought in, it obviously won’t affect the vast majority of us who can’t afford a brand new car, though new car owners are not the only ones not in need of an MOT test.
Cars and motorcycles made before 1960 (as well as goods vehicles powered by electricity and tractors) don’t need an MOT.
A campaign by the All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group brought about the change for pre-1960s vehicles in 2012, and many enthusiasts agree the modern test does not suit older cars, as well as citing that owners of such vehicles tend to be robust in looking after their cars. Obviously, it is still a legal requirement for such owners to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy – and it’s a good idea to get them checked out by a specialist garage anyway.
One Guy I’m happy to see back at the road races
How exciting is it to see the news Guy Martin will be back on a motorbike this year?
Grimsby’s favourite truck mechanic will be riding a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 on the roads in 2017 alongside legend John McGuinness at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT in the superbike class.
Admittedly, Martin divides opinion on the road racing circuit. He says he is a reluctant celebrity, only appearing on telly because of the offers of ‘silly money’ and he is content with rocking the boat where the establishment is concerned by not turning up for press duties and generally not playing ball with the inner circle of the racing elite, saying he’s happier going to work as a truck mechanic.
But then there’s the fella who brought us the programme about the final flight of the Lancaster Bomber and the two-year restoration of a Spitfire that had been found buried on a French beach. I find it impossible not to like him, and you’ll probably catch me wearing fake sideburns while taking my spot near the Bungalow at this year’s TT.
It’s even possible to forgive him for giving last year’s racing a miss to concentrate on push bikes, though that will only fuel the dislike for him among some connoisseurs.
Despite having competed at 12 TTs since 2003, Martin, famously, is yet to win one – though he came mightily close in 2010 before his race ended in flames on the third lap of the race at Ballagarey (or Balla-scary as the riders call it).
This makes Honda’s line-up this year more than intriguing, as McGuiness, on 23 TT wins, chases Joey Dunlop’s record of 26.
But I’d much rather see Martin bag that elusive win during my long weekend of driving an old Skoda around the island with my brother-in-law before getting on the Bushy’s ale of an evening.
And I will, of course, be cheering on Wiganers Josh Daley, Rob and Jim Hodson, and John Ingram.