Tag Archives: MOT

A temporary reprieve for the UK MOT

Every year 35,000 cars are MOT’d at some 21,000 MOT centres.

Thank goodness for that I say because the Government tells us that in 2010-11 44% of vehicles failed their MOT test initially and 28% of vehicles had one or more car defects that were either missed by MOT test centres or incorrectly assessed.

This matters massively because the MOT is supposed to be a safety snapshot on the day and often it’s the only one older cars get each year.

VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) data also showed that the roadworthiness of one-in-eight cars (12.4%) was being incorrectly assessed by MOT test centres.

Minister for Transport, Justine Greening said:
“Our garages are crucial to ensuring that Britain’s roads continue to be among the safest in the world. Most are doing good work but the latest data shows that there is room for improvement.”

“I want each motorist to be confident that a visit to the garage ends with their car repaired to a high standard by reputable mechanics rather than uncertainty about cost and the quality of service.”

“Giving drivers the very best information about garage performance is absolutely key to achieving this goal. It means that responsible garages will be well placed to reap the commercial benefits of transparency. Garages where performance is not up to scratch will find themselves under pressure to do more for their customers.”

Nicely said but drivers wouldn’t need performance information at all if all garages were regulated to perform to minimum and policed standards. As things stand, bad garages can pay to join good garage schemes, thus appearing to be responsible garages, without employing qualified or accredited mechanics.

And from the female motorist’s point of view, especially one who prefers her Yellow Pages Directory to any online listing, how is she to know that a garage listed as ‘Good’ doesn’t employ qualified mechanics to fix her car? Undoubtedly she thinks it does.

One interesting footnote to today’s Press release about all this states ‘The garage sector is regulated in several ways. The sector has to comply with business laws and consumer protection legislation. The MOT scheme is regulated by VOSA, an agency of the Department for Transport.’

All well and good but sadly, in our experience, none of this stops motorists being overcharged, patronised or sold things they don’t want to buy.

So I shall be interested to see how the Government assesses ‘reputable’ mechanics when they aren’t qualified or accredited as fit to do the job before being allowed to tinker with our brakes, for example.

All in all, I’m pleased to see that there will be a spotlight on garages again but wouldn’t it be easier to have one regulation system for all garages? Not just the ones who choose to self-regulate themselves via Motor Codes because the majority of these are franchised dealerships who have been told to sign up by their manufacturers but who presumably operate to higher standards than the Motor Codes Service & Repair code in any case? Which doesn’t include MOT centres as it happens.

And how will the industry judge value for money here? The likes of moneysavingexpert website tells motorists to use local authority centres where they’ll pay full price but aren’t sold anything they don’t need. But motorists will head for the discount deals and garages that may or may not be part of a ‘reputable’ scheme.

All to avoid the inevitable which is surely a fully blown regulatory scheme that outs the bad garages for once and for all.

FOXY

You can read about 2010/2011 VOSA compliance survey data here. .

Or check your car’s MOT status  and history here.

50,000 jobs at risk – don’t do it

50,000 jobs are at risk if the Government decides to scrap the annual MOT test in favour of the EU’s every other year model. On behalf of UK women drivers everywhere… please say ‘No’ Justine.

Government proposals to end annual MOTs would put at risk up to 50,000 jobs in the retail motor trade disproportionately hitting apprenticeships, young employees and independent businesses, according to new research by Pro-MOTe.

In their report, “An MOT system that works”, Pro-MOTe explains that:
* Almost 150,000 people are employed in the UK as a direct result of MOT testing with 105,000 jobs in 21,000 testing stations and a further 42,000 in tyre and parts businesses;
* The retail motor industry employs a higher proportion of skilled workers (38%) compared to the UK as a whole (11%), and a higher proportion of 17 to 24 year-olds with more than 14,000 apprenticeships starting in 2009/10;
* MOT-related activity within the retail motor trade is valued at £2.35 billion.  Replacing the current 3-1-1 MOT regime in which cars and vans are tested at three years and every year thereafter to a 4-2-2 system in place in most of the rest of the EU would reduce income from fees and repair work by £1.06 billion;
* A reduction of trade in such a labour-intensive industry would put between 25,000 and 40,000 MOT tester jobs at risk with a further 8,000 jobs in related activity vulnerable too.

The Pro-MOTe report follows its earlier studies that found that reducing MOT frequency would risk causing up to 250 more deaths every year on UK roads and would cost the motorist an additional £57 a year.  Recent opinion polls have shown that the proposed changes are not supported by drivers themselves.

We are told that the Government will announce its decision tomorrow. One last attempt to influence them then…

How can they opt for anything other than the status quo with jobs and lives on the agenda? But why has it taken them SO LONG to say so, causing so many people unnecessary stress in the industry and the time it takes us all to canvass for common-sense. We don’t need the EU to tell us how to run the UK motor industry; we’re different from France and Germany, for example, and we know best for UK motorists in this instance.

FOXY

The night I saw the light…

Last night a friend and I went to see The Artist film in Brighton. Which, as an aside, was SO wonderful that I can totally recommend it.

This time it was my friend’s turn to drive us in her VW Polo and during the journey I noticed she had a dashboard warning light on needing attention. ‘I’ve been to the garage about it’ she said ‘and apparently it’s nothing to worry about.’

Well it would be if it was my car. I’d want it switched off for starters and the fact that a garage couldn’t do that suggests it hasn’t got the latest diagnostic equipment so how would they know for sure there’s nothing wrong?

And certain malfunctioning dashboard lights are now a reason for failing a car at MOT time.

So either way my advice is to get any potentially dangerous light looked at and switched off. Otherwise you might be risking something nasty, causing your engine serious problems and if your MOT is imminent I think you might need it sorted before then…

These are the lights that will be checked to make sure they are working properly, where fitted, in MOT tests this year.

  • Electronic parking brake
  • Electronic stability control warning lights (where fitted)
  • Headlight main beam warning light
  • Electronic power steering warning light
  • Brake fluid level warning light
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system warning light
  • Air bag warning light
  • Seat belt pre-tensioner warning light

It’s all a bit worrying because electrics can be tricky and expensive, especially for older cars.

Tell us if you have any experience to add to this please…

FOXY

Fewer MOTs will cost UK lives

Just say no to the EU about MOTs

The EU is attempting to change our proven MOT regime and this WILL cost us lives and motor industry jobs if we let it.

I have posted about this subject before but I am now SERIOUSLY concerned that changes to our MOT system could get in through the UK’s back door as a result of our lethargy or simply as a result of our disbelief.

YES it CAN happen and if it does, it WILL affect road safety levels and cost us jobs in the UK motor industry if this change is allowed in via the Government’s back door.

Please read my campaigning blog at Confused.com about government plans to risk road safety.

After all, no-one really believed that the EU could tell UK insurers how to rate their car insurance risk when it comes to the gender of young men and women drivers. But this happened and will take effect in December 2012 without any noticeable sign of UK government protest, despite this flying in the face of statistical evidence (that women are the safer and therefore cheaper drivers to insure) and being totally unfair on females as a consequence.

In such instances the EU law is an ass and the UK government should have the guts to stand up and be counted where the harmonisation of bureaucracy to convenience EU officials is not in our country’s best interests. Rather than simply see it as a convenient cost saving sap for motorists…

And whilst women drivers are now to be expected to cough up to fill the coffers of UK car insurance companies (after a few lean years for them we are told) this proposed change about MOTs will cost us considerably more than just money. I’m talking about the cost of lives on our roads because our cars will be less safe if the EU gets its way here.

We must also realise that some 50,000 individuals are employed in the UK MOT industry so, potentially, half of these jobs could be at risk if the government approves a MOT regime every other year rather than every year as it stands at present.

Please read more about this via the Confused.com blog link and then join us at Facebook for progress news. Either FOXY Lady Drivers Club (for women drivers) or FOXY Choice (for trade members).

FOXY

‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’     Edmund Burke.
And ‘good women’ we would add!

Why the UK needs an annual MOT

Here’s a great explanation of why your MOT REALLY matters written by Simon Ross of Hove MOT.com. He also explains what happens when it’s taken to a FOXY Choice approved and highly stylish FEMALE FRIENDLY GARAGE like his in Hove of course….

OK it’s a bit technical but hang in there so when someone asks you whether you agree with the EU that MoTs would be OK every other year, you’ll know why the UK model of a MoT safety check every year is best for road safety reasons and can save us lives.

Here’s what Simon has to say about all this…

“Not everybody has a natural affinity with the mechanics of a car, just because you can drive one. Without sounding condescending I have tried to map out a simplified view of what and why a component failure can be dangerous to help a driver identify what might be wrong with their car.

There are a vast number of components on any car that can fail to do what they were meant to and make a car dangerous and it’s almost impossible to predict which component might fail and when.

However, the MOT test has been designed to put a car under various stresses that can replicate road use in order to allow a trained tester to see if vital moving parts are doing what they’re meant to do.

Brakes

The brakes on a car are probably the most important but are also the easiest parts to test, the visual inspection carried out by the MOT tester will tell him if the brake pads & discs are in good serviceable order and the rolling road will test the cars braking ability and how evenly distributed this is.

The part marked “Rotor” is otherwise known as the brake disc, it is the part that rotates with the wheel, it is compressed by the brake shoes to create friction in order to slow or stop the wheel from turning when the driver depresses the brake pedal.

The parts marked “Pads” are the brake pads, they are made of a steel backing plate and a man made fibrous bloke that is designed to press against the disc to create friction, obviously, over time, both the pads and disc will wear away.

Part of the visual inspection of the car braking system is to see how much of the man made block is still in serviceable condition, if a driver allows the block to wear too thin it will lose braking ability and severely damage the disc, eventually the brakes will fail completely.

There are clear guidelines set out by VOSA (the governing body of MOT testing) that give a specific minimum depth for the brake pad so that, with regular servicing and annual MOT testing, it should be almost impossible for a motorist to find themselves driving with pads that are likely to fail or damage the disc.

This is one of the simple aspects of motor car maintenance and MOT testing.

Ball Joints

Ball joints, much like the human body, are the mechanical version of a hip joint; a ball sits inside a cup (trapped) in order to allow the joint to move in numerous directions without becoming detached.

Also like the human version, a ball joint can become worn through use and can develop flat spots or become loose, the joints are often protected by grease filled rubber socks that can deteriorate or split allowing the lubricating grease to escape, therefore, the joint will become dry, possibly rust and fail to move correctly or become very noise or break.

During the MOT test, depending on whether a manual or an automated test is being carried out, all of these joints are tested. On an automated test lane the car is placed on a machine that puts the front wheels through a variety of different stress tests, this shows any excessive movement within the various joints.

On a manual MOT test, a similar process is carried out by two men with an iron bar that is used to apply pressure on the individual joints.

Clunking noises are the most common tell-tale signs of a worn ball joint, another common fault being a broken coil spring in the suspension assembly.

Suspension

The two most common components in a suspension assembly are the shock absorber suspension struts and the coil springs that wrap around them.

With continued deterioration of our road surfaces and an extremely noticeable increase in potholes, the suspension assemblies on our cars are coming under constant attack, this combined with rust causes coil springs to break quite easily.

One of the MOT test physical/visual checks is for the tester to run his/her hand over the length of the spring, quite often it can be found to have broken inside the retaining cup at the bottom of the spring, however, they can also fracture in more obvious places in the midway area.

Loud clunking and banging when driving over speed humps (a further cause of broken springs) is clearly evident.

The potential loss of control with suspension failure is enough to know that it is a repair that must be carried out IMMEDIATELY, especially if it is the front suspension. Sadly there is little one can do regarding maintaining springs, like so many parts on the modern car they are considered to be “consumables” they have a relatively short life expectancy.

Exhaust Pipe

The exhaust pipe is not simply a metal tube to transport the exhaust gases of a car away from the engine; it has evolved quite dramatically over the years and is now a far more important component to the way in which your car operates.

A normal internal combustion engine fueled by either diesel or petrol will produce poisonous gases; in the early years of motoring these gases were not recognised as poisonous and very little attention was drawn to them. However, over many years and the production of millions of cars, it became apparent that the poisonous gases and increasing levels of engine noise needed to be controlled. We would live in a very different world if the exhaust system had not been introduced as a necessary automotive component.

The exhaust pipe ensures that the poisonous and noxious gases are kept away from the occupants of the car and, ideally, from pedestrians. It is fitted with mufflers or silencers to ensure that the engine noise is within allowable decibel levels and the catalytic converter removes most of the poisons from the exhaust gases.

All in all, the exhaust system does rather a lot.

With regard to MOT testing and maintaining a car properly, the areas of concern are:

1)   Exhaust gas leaks that could poison occupants.
2)   Open joints or broken exhaust sections that would allow a distinct increase in engine noise.
3)   The security of fixings ensuring that the exhaust system, like any other component, cannot fall off of the car and, potentially, cause damage to the car behind which; could cause an accident.
4)   That the catalytic converter is absorbing sufficient poisons, this would become clear during the engine emission test.

Tyres

The only point of contact that your car should have with the ground is through your tyres so they are absolutely critical to your safety and should be maintained regularly and replaced before they become a time bomb.

Tyres can wear in different ways under different circumstances:

All of these types of tyre wear are very common, a tyre being over or under inflated is the most common but also the easiest to resolve, all modern cars (normally inside the fuel filler flap or in the drivers door shut) are marked with the correct tyre pressures, these should always be checked regularly and especially before long trips.

Alignment problems can often be resolved easily by a trained mechanic or tyre fitter with the help of a laser alignment tool, the fact that a wheel is out of alignment may well be the result of a pot hole or kerb impact.

The wear caused by a failing suspension strut or shock absorber can also be easily resolved by a trained mechanic.

None of these wear patterns should ever be allowed to occur and with regular servicing, maintenance and annual MOT testing, the root cause would normally be resolved before costly repairs are required.

The kind of damage that cannot be avoided is the type of thing caused by pot holes:

Lights

I think lights pretty much speak for themselves but it still astonishes me how often cars are presented for an MOT test with either lights not working at all or with wiring faults that make the wrong lights illuminate, also very common.

One of the most common MOT fails is light alignment, this only applies to the headlights, it’s when the angle of the headlight unit is set incorrectly so that it looks as if you’re either driving with full beam on all of the time or they are pointing too far to the left or right or they are so low that the driver cannot see far enough ahead.

All MOT test centres are equipped with a calibrated light alignment system which determines acceptable tolerances for both high and low beam settings.

Indicator lights must be yellow/orange, this used to mean that the actual lense was coloured but these days they are generally fitted with a coloured bulb, this certainly makes replacing the unit cheaper but the coloured paint on the bulb often flakes off leaving white light so the bulb needs replacing more often.

Many modern cars are now fitted with two low level brake lights and one high level central brake light. Current VOSA legislation states that only two of the three need to be working to pass an MOT test, however, if three are fitted then common sense says they should all be working.”
________________

Thank you very much Simon. Click here to find out about his MOT garage in Hove and what makes it different from so many others.

FOXY