Road Safety News

Motorists face EU ban on modifying cars

Friday 7th September 2012

Motorists who modify their cars could fail their MoT test under EU proposals, according to the Telegraph.

The European Commission is drawing up plans for a ‘roadworthiness test’ which would mean that all components had to conform to those which were on the car when it was first registered, says the Telegraph.

Motoring organisations have been warned by the DfT that this “may prevent most modifications” and would apply to “many components and to all types of vehicle”.

It is unclear whether this could extend to routine modifications such as fitting alloy wheels or bringing cars up to 21st century standards.

The move comes within months of the Government drawing up plans to exempt classic cars - those built before 1960 - from the MoT test. The DfT believed that exempting them from the MoT was justified because classic cars are normally lovingly maintained and had lower accident rates than newer models.

However, according to the EU document: “Vehicles of historic interest are supposed to conserve heritage of the époque they have been built.”

It is understood the DfT is seeking clarification of the EU plans which appear to make it impossible for owners of older cars to modify their vehicles to bring them up to modern safety standards.

According to the Telegraph, critics of the proposals described the EU plans as “unworkable”.

A DfT spokesman added: “We will challenge provisions that imply costs for Government, people or industry and seek to minimise these.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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This would be totally unacceptable, firstly let me confirm that I am a married professional in my 30s so I'm a long way off being a boy racer. I do however enjoy modifying my car, I like the fact that I can take it and make it better, and faster for track days and such.....not on the road as I have a clean license and would like to keep it that way. Who is anyone to tell me that I cannot do what I please with a car that I own? As long as it is all safe and doesn't break current laws then I don't see the problem. All this is going to do is put thousands out of work (people that manufacture aftermarket parts and garages that do the work) and make the problem of people driving illegal cars with no issuance that much worse. This country is getting to be a joke and I'm afraid I won't stand here and be told that I can't change my wheels for lighter more fuel efficient ones if I want so I'm probably going to be one of those driving mine around regardless.
Marc in salisbury

Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

Just another EU job for the boys. I'm sure the money invested in this could be spent sorting out 1000s of other more serious problems we have.
Greg England

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

Soon you'll only be able to use the car for as long as the original tires last. Because it will be classed as a mod if changed. Not many cars now with original tires on it or even the same make after parts/replacement tires. Window wipers, oh no! I bought some last week from Wilkos , have I just modded my car? Well yes. The thing is anything can be classed as a mod if not an original part. This could lead us to be driving a 3 year recyclable car that can't be fixed. A line has to be drawn somewhere or there will be a lot of illegal vehicles out there. I think this may cause problems with their plan. As for those heavily modded cars out there, what's the problem? If it has an MOT then it shouldn't be a problem. You can't assume that people who mod their cars are going to crash it. People who can't mod their vehicles may just as easily end up on drugs out of sheer boredom, or turn to the highly illegal thumb twiddling. I own a standard car and bike, no mods on them but appreciate modded cars/bikes.

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

Totally against everything, this. The EU is completely out of touch with real life .. Firstly they tried, and are still trying, to change the rules on motorbikes and now all this jargon about cars. Quicker we leave the EU the better.
Ben Nicholsn, kidderminster

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

I'm 17 years old and I don't have a license for anything, but as I've grown up through the years playing need for speed on the console, or being around the rest of my family with their customized motorbikes, it is a dream I've have had for many years, having a customized vehicle of my own. Now not having the chance to have that has not really put exactly the biggest smile on my face, but this happening is breaking many other people's dreams of my age or older, destroying businesses and other people's jobs, and why? Well, because they think they can do just that.
Kyle France, Leicestershire

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

Re Trevor B and his motorcycle perspective.

Those (few) old cars meeting "as new" rules in terms of mechanics and appearance will be assessed under National Historic rules.

Those that fail or are not old enough will be tested against original specifications, not against current standards (though that information is not available for many old cars!)

Fair enough perhaps - but only IF as Trevor B claims, testers can allow modifications that improve on the original. But can they? Not as I and others understand it. Who can clarify, quoting relevant text? Might Trevor be confusing rules for motorcycles with rules for cars?

Many other problems too - e.g. engine substitution, 1932 Alvis with 2.5 litre engine replaced by 1939 4.3 litre, Escort with Rover V8 engine - would the much bigger engine be allowed? I fear not.

And many many more questions that need urgent clarification
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

What amazes me more than anything nowadays is that you're being told what you can do with things you have bought and own, when does it stop? You'll next be told what you can and can't do in your own home.

What does it matter what you do to your vehicle as long as it passes an MOT, is that not essentially a road worthiness test?

Modifying for many people is a hobbie/job/skill they enjoy doing and people from the EU that it has nothing to do with, for no reason, want to take that privilidge away from people, plus the aftermarket industries would be in ruins, 1000s of people out of work.

I hope I dont stand alone on this but I don't want a car or motorbike that's the same as every other person one the road, to me it's like us all having the same faces.

I love cars and bikes, and I love being able to modify things and make things better with my own hands, I won't have that stripped from me. Sign me up to protesting if this goes ahead....
Toby, Nottingham

Agree (16) | Disagree (1)

The “‘roadworthiness test’ means a verification that the parts and components of a vehicle comply with its safety and environmental characteristics in force at the time of approval, first registration or entry into service”.

Fitting better brakes or braided hoses to your motorcycle will not fail this because not only does it comply with the safety characteristics of your motorcycle, it also exceeds it.

The proposal is a minimum requirement, there is nothing stopping Member States from introducing or continuing operating a stricter testing regime or a parallel regime that checks for aftermarket non-standard parts as they are fitted, similar to what happens in Germany.

However that is down to the Member State concerned, there is no suggestion in the proposal that this would be the norm across Europe.

Please read the proposal and don’t rely on the popular press.
Trevor B - Right to Ride

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

I live in Spain and it has been in operation for some years now. All aftermarket parts have to be EU homologated. The vehicle has to be re MOT'd after every modification, and the modifications added to the technical part of the log book. I'm an ex traffic Police motorcyclist, and have to say that it is a money making farce. I haven't ever had a standard bike of my own, and 95% of the modified bikes I have seen/ridden are safer than the original, and built to a higher standard. The standard MOT will quite easily see if the vehicle is unsafe. It's the same as the Hi-Viz farce. If drivers don't see a flourescent yellow BMW, with flourescent blue and silver chequered stripes, 3 blue lights, and a flashing headlight, together with a piercing siren, how will they ever see any ordinary motorcyclist with just a yellow vest? Neither proposal has ANY foundation in safety. The answer is education. You cannot see if you are not looking. Purely money making ideas.
Steve. Spain.

Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

As a motorbike and scooter rider, I've been following this, and similar, proposals for some time now, and if these laws ever did pass, I would never be able to ride any of my bikes/scooters again! The bikes have not had too many things changed, but one of my scooters has been upgraded in so many ways that even though it's more safe than any other scooter of it's type, it would still fail their proposed rules!

• Upgraded/ oversized disks - not allowed.
• Upgraded brake calipers - not allowed.
• Bigger engine to be able to travel at sensible speeds and to get me away from traffic quick enough that I don't get people trying to knock me off the road after traffic light - not allowed.
• Brighter lights (front and rear - not allowed.
• Better gripping tyres - not allowed!

If I rode that scooter with all standard parts, it would be a nightmare!

This madness needs to stop!
BNB Bikes, Bognor Regis

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

EU rules seem to be adopted when it suits. I am all in favour of anything that abates noise and banns aftermarket racket makers. Insurance companies need to make some examples of people with undeclared mods to 2 & 4 wheelers, and make allowances for devices that improve safety, upgraded brakes, black box device etc. The EU should but out. Having said that our own minister wanted to exempt old cars from testing! "Another major step for road safety"!!
Olly, Lancs

Agree (17) | Disagree (1)

I suspect there may be a collision issue involving eccentric modifications to elderly vehicles elsewhere in Europe, many of us have seen some of these agricultural Heath Robinson efforts on our travels. If this is the case, it should be dealt with within those countries where it happens, not via blanket legislation with massive unexpected consequences on legitimate activities and businesses throughout Europe.

As in all government – the “officials” do not create legislation in isolation; they work for and the decisions are made by, elected politicians.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

As a classic car owner for many years I can confirm that neither the article nor the comments begin to explain the consequences of this insane proposal - there can hardly be a classic, vintage etc car in Europe that still conforms to its original specification in every respect and also APPEARANCE. For example only 10% of 1930s Bentley were open cars, now only 10% are saloons because 80% have been re-bodied. I have a 1939 Alvis tourer which although very original mechanically has a tourer body because the original saloon was destroyed in a barn collapse in America.

According to these rules none of these would be classified as Historic and eligible for national rules, instead they would have to conform to EU rules which would put almost all of them off the road and the £4bn pa UK classic car industry out of business overnight.

Not that the EU will care, £4bn is no more than a rounding error on their annual expenses.
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (20) | Disagree (0)

Pure madness.

These are elected public servants. It's about time they realised it and started to behave like they were. Instead they seek to make things more difficult at every turn.

There is a large industry supporting the modification of cars and bikes, employing people across Europe. These changes will mean job losses, increased costs for industry and road-users of all persuasions.

I own several classic vehicles and they have been modified in a number of ways to improve lighting, emissions, braking and handling. I would say the getting rid of the MoT for older vehicles is a retrograde step however, we need an annual test.
Nick Hendley Eastbourne

Agree (16) | Disagree (0)

I notice that a lot of comments are regarding roll cages? I'm sorry but I have never felt the urge to put one in my Kangoo. That aside I would have thought this is a backlash against all those younger generation who find the need to lower, put oversize exhausts, wheels, hood vent, massive wings and any thing else they can beg borrow or aquire on to that knackered Cleo - only to wang it into a ditch, fence, wall, your car, because they didn't fit a suitable part. There are always two sixers to every argument. This is one of those knee jerk laws that will be over applied to everything. But I agree it needs to be stopped and re-looked at very carefully.
rich, kent

Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

I think we should for once act like the French and stand up for our rights. We are too weak as a nation. We will bow our heads and let it ride like we always do. Shout at the tv or spend hours complaining to others instead of to the people that matter. France is governed by the people and that is why they get what they want. It's about time Britain stopped backing down and remembered their British roots. Take a stand!
alison dover kent

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

I'd go as far as expecting that this is all part of an industry lobbied masterplan to force people away from their reliable classics and into planned obsolescence. Buy car, drive for five years with no third party parts or modifications whatsoever, repeat. The ultimate cash cow.
Daniel, Germany

Agree (16) | Disagree (0)

So how will this work with the new insurance boxes that are being fitted to cars? Does this mean that they'll be illegal too which in turn gives the monopoly back to the insurance companies. There is potential for this to spiral. This is one of those time that we need to take a lesson from the French truck drivers and make a stand.
Cris Guy Brighton.

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

An absolute outrage.

It's not our Government that need to grow a back bone. It's the nation, the people it effects, you and me! When we stand up and do sonething people might listen. The Government might listen. But with respect, we're all becoming too scared to "shout" in fear of reprisals and what the Governments are drumming into our heads. When we realise we have a voice we will use it. Governments exist because of meek mannered citizens. Make a noise and the Governments listen!
Ghost biker

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

Absolutley ridiculous. Brussels should keep its nose out of everyone's business and the UK Government should have a spine for a change.
andy snape hastings

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

About time the EU was told to mind their own business. As a biker, this is the second time the nuts have tried this on, but have a bigger army against theses proposals now they are trying it on with cars as well. What's the next step, stopping modifications to cycles or dolls prams?
Greg Doull

Agree (18) | Disagree (1)

Seems like another good reason not to be in the EU.........

Agree (18) | Disagree (1)

As a Motorcycle Action Group member, I would like to point out that this is already happening to motorcycles, mopeds and scooters, and we also warned that this would also in time effect cars. Next will be our commercial vehicles. When we asked for support from other parts of industry for these vehicles nothing has been forthcoming. Perhaps now both the vehicle industry and owners and drivers will finally all unite against these ludicrous new recommendations. NO MORE APATHY and NO MORE ASSUMING ITS SOMEONE ELSE'S PROBLEM!!
ann gardiner, worthing, west sussex

Agree (23) | Disagree (0)

Its feeling like we're becoming a Communist state, if we don't make a stand where will it end?
Paul, Yarm

Agree (16) | Disagree (1)

This has HUGE implications.

The entire motorsport of rallying may be banned as the fitment of each of the following would be illegal: roll cage, harnesses, fire-extinguishers, electrical cut-off switch.

What if someone invents a safety device that can be fitted to any car? Are we supposed to just allow people to die because we are not allowed to make our cars safer?

And what of cars with safety mods already, up-rated suspension, up-rated brakes, stainless steel exhausts etc? Will these cars suddenly be illegal overnight?

And what benefit are they claiming this over-regulation will achieve?
P Wilson : London

Agree (17) | Disagree (0)

There have been modified cars for decades and it could be argued that the tradition of modifying has helped the development of cars. A roadworthiness test is a good idea but to ban a car simply because it has been modified seems unnecessary - especially as some modifications make cars safer (e.g. brakes).
Dr James Whalen, Wolverhampton

Agree (17) | Disagree (0)

The EU are already looking into this for motorcycles. It effectively forces anyone wanting to change anything on their vehicle to use an accredited dealer which has cost implications for the vehicle owner of course. With motorcycling this has now been reduced to specific types of bike and modifications to the power train.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (14) | Disagree (0)

So if I modified my car by fitting a roll cage, which would make the safer in the event of a crash, it would fail it's MoT test?

Yet further negative measures aimed at motorists...
Laird Assessors, Wirral

Agree (16) | Disagree (0)