What we did

* Alarming disparities... * ...between MoT testing stations * System is not fit for purpose...

What we did

We used a six-year-old Vauxhall Corsa, which was inspected by the RAC both before and after the tests to verify if there were any faults that could make it unroadworthy. The RAC also confirmed the car was in the same condition (bar two replacement bulbs) throughout the testing process.

The six garages we went to were chosen at random in different locations, with a mix of national chains and independents.

These tests were carried out in the space of five days, and the car was driven only to each test station and back.

Our inspectors findings are detailed below, but he picked up potential problems with the track rod end joint, the parking brake, the exhaust, a windscreen chip, a brake pipe-securing clip, registration plate bulbs and the rear foglight bulb.

What the RAC inspector said...

First inspection
Ron Waldock, a vehicle examining engineer for the RAC and a former MoT tester, had the latest set of MoT test rules available to him when inspecting the car. That allowed him to see what parts would mean our car would pass or fail a test.

Play in offside track rod end joint
Ron said that this item would be subject to the opinion of the tester and, while he thought there was excessive play (ie a test failure), another tester might believe there was only slight play with the joint, making it just an advisory issue.
The rear nearside registration plate bulb had blown at Rons initial inspection, while the rear offside foglight bulb failed between that and the first test. However, Ron did notice there was water in this light unit, which was not drained when the bulb was replaced at one garage.
Poor parking brake efficiency
A rolling road was not available to Ron at either inspection, but he was able to check how far the handbrake went up before it secured the car. He was concerned that this happened only on the final click, indicating either wear or poor adjustment of the rear brake shoes so in his opinion the handbrake was unserviceable. Our Vauxhall Corsa would fail a test if the parking brakes efficiency is below 16% but, according to the MoT test manual, it would pass if wheel lock occurs on more than half of the wheels braked by the parking brake.

Second inspection
Rons second inspection showed that, bar the two bulbs (which had been replaced during the tests), the cars condition had not changed. The cars current condition renders it unroadworthy because in my opinion it would not pass an MoT test due to play in the steering and the parking brake efficiency, he said.