I see that Mr. Darling has introduced a £2000 scrap payment when exchanging your 9-years-old+ car for a new greener model. I'm pleased at last that he's starting to look to France and Germany for some good ideas. (Pity this hasn't yet extended to health care).
I'm pretty hopeless with tech things. I knew that when we bought a new French car 4 years ago that we didn't need to pay an annual road tax - good! - but wasn't sure about the equivalent to an MOT. Well, now we know. Just before 4 years are up, the garage which originally sold you the new car sends you a leaflet for a Controle technique, required by French law. It gives you the date by which you need to get 116 different mechanical items checked over - this is called a Pre-Controle. (After this is done, you need a Controle technique every 2 years).
I thought, 'Oh, here we go...', remembering all those English garages of yore. You bring the car in, with absolutely nothing wrong with it, and they always say it needs hundreds of pounds spending. One particular occasion about 20 years ago, the UK garage said they had replaced the spark plugs so we foolishly paid them. When him indoors later looked under the bonnet, the spark plugs were still covered with the original blue paint of the car! (In other words, they hadn't replaced the plugs at all!!).
So, this time, with sinking heart we went back to the garage in Montauban after the 1 hr pre-Controle, ready for the bad news. Lo and behold, they said the car was fine, nothing needed doing and there was nothing to pay!!
I like it here in France.