MOTCars registered before 1960 are now exempt from yearly MOT tests – but an EU directive means this could be extended to any vehicle over 30 years old, providing they haven’t been substantially modified.

Whether this will happen hasn’t been decided yet, and a decision won’t be made until 2018 – but the Department for Transport (DfT) is now seeking opinions from the general public.

Readers, that includes you: so here’s the background behind the possible legislation change.

Should classic cars be exempt from MOTs?

Research by the DfT found that classic cars are generally very well maintained and have much lower accident and MOT failure rates than newer vehicles. In 2009, initial MOT test failure rates for pre-1960 vehicles was less than 10% – compared to over 30% for newer cars.

Vehicles registered before 1960 make up around 0.6% of all cars on UK roads, but are involved in just 0.03% of crashes.

These figures, along with a public consultation that showed high levels of support for the proposal, meant all cars manufactured before 1960 have been exempt from the MOT test as of 2012. But should this exemption be extended?

What can the government do about classic cars?

The 2014/45/EU directive means cars and vans are permitted to have a maximum test-free period of four years from new, and must be tested at least every two years, unless exempted.

Individual member states of the EU can set rules within these guidelines. So, currently, cars in the UK older than three-years-old have to be MOT’d every year, unless they were registered before 1960.

The DfT has categorically said that this won’t be changing – don’t expect MOTs for modern cars to become biennial. What could be changing is which cars are exempt from being tested. The UK government is currently looking at two solutions.

Firstly, any car older than 30-years-old is classed as having “historical interest” and therefore could be exempt from MOTs – as long as it hasn’t been substantially modified. So, don’t bother sticking the shell of a new car onto a 30-year-old chassis and hoping to beat the system.

Alternatively, such vehicles could be tested every two years rather than yearly – with no exclusion for cars that have been modified.

I have a strong opinion about this – what should I do?

Going by reaction to the news that cars registered before 1960 are now exempt from MOTs, there are likely to be some strong opinions on this subject.

Are you a classic car enthusiast who thinks the yearly MOT test is an unrealistic assessment of a car’s roadworthiness? Or do you think having cars on the roads that never pass through a test station is a bad idea?

Well, the DfT is keen to hear from you. There’s a short survey you can fill in here, while lengthier responses can be given here.

You have until the end of October 2014 to give the DfT your opinion. A formal consultation on the change of the law will take place no later than 2018.

Of course, we’re also keen to hear your views, so comment below, send us a tweet, or post on our Facebook Page.