No more MOTs for 40-year-old bikes

Annual testing to end at 40 from May 2018

No more MOTs for 40-year-old bikes

THE Department for Transport has revealed that vehicles over 40 years old will be exempt from MOT tests from May next year.

It’s a huge step from the current position, which exempts pre-1960 vehicles, and means anything made before 1978 - such as the 1973 Kawasaki Z1 pictured - won’t need to go through the annual safety inspection. The change comes after a consultation, which the DfT appears to have largely ignored – the majority (56%) of respondents were against the idea.

The 40-year-old exemption will be on a rolling basis, so pre-1978 vehicles will initially be affected, but in 2019 the exemption will extend to pre-1979 ones, and so on.

The reasoning is that very few 40-year-old classics get used on a day-to-day basis, and most are owned by enthusiasts who will meticulously care for them regardless of annual testing. It also means that the exemption from MOT testing will coincide with the exemption from VED, presumably streamlining the computer records that tie the two things together.

According to the DfT, vehicles over 40 years old have a lower MOT failure rate than newer ones, as well as having a lower rate of deaths and injuries (on an injuries-per-vehicle basis).

While exempted from annual roadworthiness testing, it will still be a legal requirement for all vehicles used on the road to comply with the law – this isn’t a licence to use bald tyres or have inoperative lights. Owners of exempt vehicles will also always have the option of submitting their vehicles to a voluntary MOT test for their own peace of mind. However, under the current rules, only 6% of pre-1960, MOT-exempt vehicle owners take up that option.

The new rules come into force on 20 May 2018. One exception is 40-year-old vehicles that have been subject to ‘substantial change’. The final details of what will count as ‘substantial change’ on bikes will be published later this year, but it’s safe to assume that if you bolt a modern engine and suspension to a pre-1978 bike, making it into more useable day-to-day transport, you’re likely to discover that it’s no longer eligible to be MOT-exempt.