Four in ten motorists have stated they are unable, or concerned, about MOT cost, with almost half saying they will break the law and drive without a valid test certificate.
As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, drivers are looking for ways to save money on motoring. But research has found that many believe they cannot afford the MOT cost. A total of 38% stated in a Halfords survey that this was the case. Worryingly, 45% said that if they cannot afford the test, they would continue to drive without an MOT, and 17% admitted they already have in the past 12 months.
The findings come at a time when the UK aftermarket is working again to keep the current MOT 3-1-1 pattern, following government suggestions some time ago that switching to an MOT test every other year would save motorists money.
Many unsure about MOT cost affordability
The Halfords research found that in addition to those drivers who said they definitely could not afford the MOT, a further 17% of respondents were unsure if they could do so or not.
Amongst those who are unsure if they will be able to afford the MOT cost this year, 9% said they would keep driving until they are caught, whilst 16% said they would keep driving without MOT certificates until it needs to be re-insured, at which point, proof of an MOT is required. A total of 19% said they could try to use their car less, but would still use it if they needed to.
Further findings from Halfords also highlighted a growing issue – that of ‘working poverty’, with nine in 10 in this situation saying their job would be impossible or much harder without a car. However, affording their vehicle is being made harder due to rising motoring costs, alongside other rising bills such as food, electricity and mortgages.
Around 51% of the population are finding themselves in ‘working poverty’, and motoring costs are not helping. With repair costs going up due to increases in the cost of parts, some are perhaps fearful that a large repair bill will come on top of the MOT cost, which is a capped price.
Many could find themselves in a worse position if they are not able to afford the MOT cost and lose their vehicle, as 41% of those in working poverty say that not having a car would make their job impossible, with a further 48% saying it would make it much harder.
Halfords believes this could potentially then lead to many losing their jobs entirely and worsening their financial situation significantly. It could also explain why so many are considering continuing to drive their car, even if they cannot afford an MOT.
Most are struggling with motoring costs currently – 81% are concerned with meeting at least one motoring-related cost in the next 12 months, with fuel (62%) repairs (43%) and insurance (40%) the top three expenses they are most worried about.
Many motorists are having to compromise on other areas of expense. Over a third (36%) say they are having to spend less on socialising in order to meet their motoring costs, whilst 26% say they are impacting their ability to pay household bills, and 31% say they are compromising on their weekly food shopping to meet car costs.
MOT under threat in cost-of-living plans
Earlier this year, former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, suggested that the MOT could switch from yearly to a biennial test, saving motorists as costs increase. The idea was met with protest from aftermarket and road-safety bodies, who have continually lobbied against any changes to the current MOT set-up.
The Halfords survey suggests that drivers are struggling with the cost, and a move would help. However, it would also lead to millions more unsafe vehicles on roads, going unchecked for a further 12 months. During this time, worn or close to worn components that may have been picked up early could become dangerous, need replacing and increase costs. This means switching the MOT could be more costly than ever.
Driving without MOT checks is also extremely dangerous, with those doing so risking large fines, insurance cancellation and even driving bans.
The ideal solution is for drivers to budget for their MOT. Capped at £54.85, this means putting aside around £4.57 a month. Another way to save is to have a vehicle serviced where possible, but also to regularly check wearable items, such as brakes and tyres. Garages can also help by sending MOT reminders, ensuring motorists are aware of the dates, allowing them to save.