The paper car tax disc becomes obsolete today after being a feature on car windscreens since 1921.
Vehicle owners will no longer have to display the vehicle excise duty (VED) disc on their screens, with the system becoming “electronic” in that VED will be renewed either online or at Post Office branches.
The Government has said the abolition will eventually save the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) around £7 million a year.
But motoring groups the AA and the RAC have both expressed reservations about doing away with the paper disc, while an Auto Trader survey showed a lack of awareness of the disc’s abolition.
One key change from today is that those buying a vehicle will not be able to take advantage of the remaining months and days of the car’s existing VED and will need to renew the tax.
The AA said some of its members had complained that in certain cases the Government will get “double money” from drivers as someone selling a car during the month will not be able to get a refund for the rest of that month but the buyer must tax the vehicle and pay for the entire month if they want to drive it.
The RAC has expressed fears that, with the end of the paper disc, the number of motorists failing to pay VED could become as high as the number who drive without insurance.
The motoring organisation said this could result in a £167 million a year loss to the Exchequer.
But the DVLA has said there is “no basis” to the RAC figures, adding it is “nonsense” to suggest getting rid of the tax disc would lead to an increase in vehicle tax evasion.
Those selling a vehicle will be able to claim a refund from the DVLA for unused months of road tax.
Those who have not paid their tax will be spotted on automatic number plate recognition cameras or by police checking VED data information.
Website Auto Trader said a survey of drivers revealed up to half were unsure about the actual process behind the switch to electronic discs.
The poll also showed 39% were unaware it would no longer be possible to transfer road tax between the ex-owner and the new buyer of a vehicle, while 17% were unsure of where to now pay the road tax. Also 26% of drivers did not think the change is a good thing for consumers.
Tim Marriott, a spokesman for the Auto Trader website, said: “There has been a lack of guidance and advice.”