Why Are Classic Cars Failing Their MOT?

Wed 29th Sep 2021

One in five classic cars are failing their MOT test according to new research, and while it might be expected that older cars would have a higher fail rate, the confusing part of the research is that none of the cars which failed needed to take a test in the first place.

Cars over 40 years old are exempt from both motor tax and an MOT, however according to data published by BookMyGarage, between January 2019 and June 2021, there were 121,204 cars in that category put through a test voluntarily, and 22,300 failed.

Classic cars are very often a labour of love for their owners, and more often than not are kept in tip-top condition and very rarely driven, however the stats from the DVSA show that ‘newer’ classics from the 1970s are three times more likely to not pass a test than those from the 1950s - however it is much more likely that those from the 70s had a greater mileage.

The requirement for classic cars to have an MOT was removed in May 2018, much to the dismay of many classic car enthusiasts, who were worried that the move would lead to a deterioration in standards and a drop in maintenance, and that thousands of classics could fall into disrepair and be lost forever.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Former Fifth Gear presenter Jonny Smith, said: “The danger of [the MOT exemption] is people who are not hugely mechanically knowledgeable are buying old cars and are maybe being oblivious to the fact they are not as safe as they could be.

“There is the potential backlash of having a classic car go catastrophically wrong and cause some major high-profile accident only because of neglect of maintenance rather than anything else. It’s not the car’s fault; it’s because the owner didn’t check it enough or get a second opinion on some repairs.”

Despite the MOT exemption, owners still have to ensure that their vehicles are kept in a road legal condition and they could be subject to a three point penalty if they fail to do so.