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MoT system in crisis

  • Alarming disparities...
  • ...between MoT testing stations
  • System is not fit for purpose
Words ByBarnaby Jones

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What Car?'s MoT mystery shoppers have uncovered alarming disparities between testing centres up and down the country, with several missing potentially dangerous faults.

'With so much disparity between different garages, we think the Government should scrap its plans for bi-annual MoT tests, and focus instead on tightening up the current system to ensure motorists stay safe in their cars and on our roads,' said What Car?'s editor in chief, Chas Hallett.

'If the current MoT system is working properly, all of the test stations we visited should have come up with the same results for our mystery shop vehicle. Not all of the faults that our RAC engineer found were simple pass-or-fail points, but we have to be concerned when some of these areas were missed altogether. Motorists should be able to rely on the expertise of the tester.'

What Car? visited six garages within five days with a six-year-old Vauxhall Corsa that the RAC had inspected and rated as an MoT test failure. The car was inspected before and after the tests, and was in the same condition for each test except for two replacement light bulbs.

Problems that What Car? expected to be highlighted included issues with the track rod end ball joint, parking brake, exhaust, a windscreen chip, brake pipe-securing clip, registration plate bulb and the rear foglight bulb.

Case study 1 chain garage in the Midlands
Test result: fail
Didn't pick up on windscreen chip and broken brake pipe-securing clip.

Case study 2 independent garage in the Midlands
Test result: fail
Didn't pick up on windscreen chip and broken brake pipe-securing clip.

Case study 3 independent garage in south-east England
Test result: fail
Didn't pick up on windscreen chip and broken brake pipe-securing clip.

Case study 4 chain garage in south-west London
Test result: pass
Passed after one bulb change.

Case study 5 independent garage in south-west London
Test result: pass
Passed after one bulb change.

Case study 6 independent garage, south-east England
Test result: fail
Didn't pick up track rod end joint, windscreen chip and broken brake pipe-securing clip.

The MoT system is run by Government agency VOSA and requires vehicles aged three years or older to be tested annually. Some MoT testing stations are monitored only every three years.

VOSA commented on the What Car? findings: 'MoT testers must be experienced mechanics and must hold a relevant qualification. Parts of the MoT test do have to be subjective and therefore rely upon testers to exercise their engineering judgement. It is refreshing to see that, when tester discretion is included, there is a large degree of consistency between the garages in your survey. However, a number of your findings have caused VOSA some concern, which we will address with the garages involved.'

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