Category Archives: MOTs

Common sense has prevailed: The 3-1-1 MOT is to remain unchanged!

In January last year, the UK government announced it was creating a consultation which could possibly extend the time allowed before the first MOT of a vehicle’s life from three years to four then annually thereafter – known as the 4-1-1 system.

 

At the time, Trust My Garage wrote extensively on why the 4-1-1 system was dangerous in a blog post, viewable here.

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We are now happy to announce that as of January 18th 2018, the outcome of the consultation – based upon public and automotive industry opinion – was that the government has cancelled any plans to extend the time before a vehicle’s first MOT.

Upon the announcement of the consultation last year, Trust My Garage stated:

“If a vehicle has a defect by its third year of use, then extending the MOT for a further year will also have the effect of increasing the number of defects the vehicle carries, because defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then snowball and cause defects with the related components in the vehicle. Not only is this dangerous for motorists, but it could also be costly as minor repairs that could be fixed in the third year could become major defects by the fourth.”

 

According to the consultation’s respondents, much of the public agreed. Most respondents were against the proposals on safety grounds, arguing that the savings to motorists were outweighed by the risk to road users and the test often highlights upcoming issues affecting the vehicle. A public survey for the Department for Transport by Populus also showed fewer than half of people were in favour of the change.

 

Jesse Norman, Roads Minister, said: “Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MOT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk. We are looking at further research to ensure the MOT test evolves with the demands of modern motoring.”

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Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test in 2015 and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined. (DVSA, 2015) Along with this, more than 770,000 vehicles were discovered to have a dangerous defect in 2013/14, equating to nearly 2,200 every day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment. (DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008)

 

To read the full results of the consultation click here.

To find out more about why changes to an MOT’s frequency would be a danger to both vehicles and road users, take a look at the ProMOTe website here.

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If your vehicle is due for an MOT or you feel it needs a bit of maintenance, why not visit the Trust My Garage website and find a trusted independent garage in your area? Click here to use our handy Find a Garage map to find your nearest member. If you aren’t when your vehicle’s MOT is due, The DVSA have created a new MOT Reminder Service. To arrange your e-mail reminder, click here.

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Why is the MOT so important for vehicles?

Every year from the age of three your car should, by law, go in for an MOT test. But what exactly does the MOT do and why are they so important?

 

What even is an MOT?

During an MOT, the most important parts of your vehicle are “checked to make sure they meet the legal standards” (Gov). By having an MOT, you’re making sure that your car is safe to drive on UK roads. It’s called an MOT because it was originally named after the original Ministry of Transport (MoT). (source)

 

But I’ve had my car serviced, isn’t that the same?

Simply put, no. The MOT does not cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox, which are the parts of your car that will be looked at during a service. The MOT looks at mechanical parts of your car and emissions as well. 

 

Ok, so what parts of my car does the MOT look at?

The MOT provides you with an evaluation on the condition of most of your car, such as bodywork, fuel, seats, brakes and tyres. For a more in-depth breakdown of all the parts of your car looked at during the MOT, you can have a look at the full government list here, or take a look at the photo below.

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Car parts looked at during the MOT (source)

So why is the MOT so important for my car?

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test last year and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined. (DVSA, 2015) Even with a regular test every year, that’s still just under 11 million vehicles that aren’t fit to drive on UK roads.

With the Government opening their new consultation about extending the time before a car’s first MOT, it’s important to think about how many more dangerous vehicles – which could be over 3 and a half million! – that could be around in just one extra year’s time. 

 

 

Wait, the government want to do what?

Yes, you read that right. The government have opened a public consultation asking for opinions on whether a car should be able to wait 4 years for its first MOT, instead of 3. It’s being called the 4-1-1 system, and while it might seem like a good idea, the facts say otherwise. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are far more likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old. 

 

But an extra year with no MOT would save me money, right?

Well, that isn’t exactly the case. Extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four would likely prove more expensive for motorists, as it would raise the likelihood that minor problems become more serious defects – which then triggers in turn further defects which require more significant and more costly repairs later. It may also be the case that defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then result in defects in different but associated components which would otherwise have remained serviceable. The defects are therefore cumulative – which could cost you even more money. 

 

But my car looks fine, so why would it even need an MOT?

While it’s true that your car may look fine at a glance, when was the last time you checked the tread on your tyres? Do you know the proper depth it needs to be at to be road safe? Do you think your brakes are as responsive as when you first got your car? Are the electrics still safe and functioning properly? The MOT is designed to ensure your vehicle is as safe as possible when you drive it, and lets you know if there are any problems before they become a real danger to you and other road users. 

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Surely it can’t be that much of a problem though?

That’s where you’re wrong. In 2013/14 there were more than 770,000 vehicles discovered during MOT tests with a dangerous defect. Nearly 2,200 EVERY day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment (DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008). Now, when you go out on to the roads, do you want over 2,000 chances of being in an accident due to a dangerous car?

 

You’re right, that’s bad! But what can I do to stop it happening?

For a start, you can take your vehicle for its yearly MOT, to make sure it’s in the best possible condition. If you’re looking for a garage that will carry out a thorough, DVSA standard MOT you can find your nearest trusted independent garage on the Trust My Garage website. All the garages are Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved and are ready to do the best work for you and your vehicle. 

You can also head over proMOTe’s website if you’re looking for some more facts, or you can to the Government website and take a look at the MOT consultation yourself. It’s open for response from all members of the public, so if you think it’s a bad idea, like we do, let the government know!

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Proposed MOT changes: Why the 4-1-1 system is dangerous

The Government has announced a proposal to consult on extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a vehicle’s life from three years to four – known as the 4-1-1 system (Summer Budget, 2015).

While many motorists may think this is a good idea, there is ever-growing evidence that the increase of faulty and potentially dangerous cars on UK roads would result in extra injuries and possibly even deaths. 

The Department for transport (DfT) released a report that stated that the addition of an extra year before a car’s first MOT could mean injuries rise by 2,000 a year, with an estimated 71 of those injuries being fatal.

Evidently any move to extend the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four years would seriously endanger road safety for all road users.

Not only would the changes be dangerous, but they mean that there would also be an increase in repair costs for drivers and an inevitable increase in harmful emissions due to the additional time that vehicles had been active on the roads without the essential checks carried out during an MOT. 

 There have been previous attempts in government to introduce an extended first MOT period – in 2008 and 2011 – both of which considered the 4-1-1 as a structure for MOT frequency, and both at both of these times the government decided that no changes should take place. There have been no changes in the MOT design or car safety that would then mean that the 4-1-1 structure is now viable. 

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test in 2015 and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined.(DVSA, 2015)  Along with this, more than 770,000 vehicles were discovered to have a dangerous defect in 2013/14, equating to nearly 2,200 every day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment.(DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008)

 Currently many vehicles are found to be unroadworthy at three years old; therefore it stands to reason that extending the MOT to four years will mean there are even more vehicles on the roads in a potentially dangerous condition. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old.

If a vehicle has a defect by its third year of use, then extending the MOT for a further year will also have the effect of increasing the number of defects the vehicle carries, because defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then snowball and cause defects with the related components in the vehicle. Not only is this dangerous for motorists, but it could also be costly as minor repairs that could be fixed in the third year could become major defects by the fourth. 

Not only is the proposed system dangerous to vehicle safety and public safety, it is also dangerous for the environment. Air quality and reducing emissions is a high Government priority, but extending the time allowed before a vehicle’s first MOT allows polluting vehicles (which would have been detected when they were three years old) to go undetected for a further year. This makes them far more likely to increase their polluting emissions as the engine condition further deteriorates. 

The 4-1-1 system paves the way for vehicles to be a source of danger on the roads. You can have your say about it by visiting the government consultation, designed to give people a platform for their opinions before any changes are debated by the government . It is open until Sunday 16th April, 11:45pm. To get have your say click here.

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To find out more about why the proposed changes to MOT frequency are a danger to both vehicles and road users, take a look at the ProMOTe website here.

If you think that your vehicle is due for an MOT or you feel it needs a bit of maintenance, why not visit the Trust My Garage website and find a trusted independent garage in your area? Click here to find your nearest garage

The Car Repair Plan: Shielding you from unexpected costs

Have you ever wanted to have a little bit of money put aside in a pot, just in case something goes wrong? A ‘rainy day fund’, if you will? Most people now probably have some sort of savings fund in case of an emergency to help them out with unplanned costs and problems.

Well, have you thought about doing the same for your car? As a driver, you need to be able to budget for the costs of regular maintenance and perhaps even a little extra for those unexpected costs.

With one in seven UK motorists putting off essential repairs due to financial issues, it might be time to start thinking about looking out for your money and your motor.

Provided by the Independent Garage Association, The Car Repair Plan is the answer. It allows you to shield yourself from unexpected repair costs by providing a free, easy and flexible way to budget for car servicing and repairs. You can even set up a family fund, so more than one person can put in money, and you can use it on more than one vehicle. With the Car Repair Plan, a little bit of saving goes a long way!

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Trusty, the Car Repair Plan mascot

So, what does the Car Repair Plan do?

The plan allows you to save as much or as little as you want on a regular basis to ensure that you always have the funds available to pay for the service and repair of your car – and other vehicles in your family.

 

Where can I use it?

You can use your Car Repair Plan fund at any participating Trust My Garage member. You can choose to use all or some of your account balance when settling the bill. The process is simple and straightforward, and there are no extra costs or hidden charges. If you want to find your nearest participating garage, take a look at the handy map on the Trust My Garage website.

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The Trust My Garage map of participating Car Repair Plan garages 

 

How will it help me?

You can choose to use all or some of your account balance when settling a repair or service bill. The process is simple and straightforward, so you won’t have to worry about paying out more to get yourself back on the road.

 

What about making payments into the account?

You add a set amount into your account every month. You can alter the payment or take a break at any time, or when you feel you have built up enough of a fund. The scheme is entirely flexible.

 

How can I check my fund’s balance?

You can view your balance online at any time. Just log in to the website.  It’s as easy as that to access!

 

 

If you’d like to find out any more information about Car Repair Plan or sign up for the scheme, click this link to head over to the website.

What do you think about the Car Repair Plan? Leave us some thoughts in the comments!

 

 

Which car maintenance tasks are becoming a thing of the past?

Vehicle technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Modern cars are more sophisticated, intelligent and responsive than ever. As a result, vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage have to continue to complete training courses and invest in the latest equipment in order to successfully service and maintain your car to the highest standards. But where does that leave you as the owner?

Cleevely010Decades ago if your car had a problem and money was tight you’d probably invest in a cheap manual and socket set, and patch over the cracks yourself. But with vehicles becoming more and more complicated, largely through having a lot more on-board technology, this isn’t an easy thing to do. Indeed, the AA recently stated that half of the 3.4 million call-outs it attends every year are caused by poor maintenance. Of course, there are still some basic maintenance tasks you can carry out yourself, such as checking fluid levels, tyres, mirrors, etc, but many of the maintenance tasks we performed ourselves a few decades ago have been consigned to the toolboxes of history. To illustrate how the modern vehicle is evolving, we look at a few of the maintenance tasks that have become a thing of the past.

Antifreeze

Hands up if you remember standing outside, wearing more layers than the Michelin man on a cold, frosty winter night, and pouring antifreeze into the car to ensure that the water in your engine was not frozen the next morning? These days are long gone now, because most cars manufactured post-1998 use organic acid technology – or OAT – which acts as an extended life coolant. OAT consists of different chemicals than traditional engine coolants, meaning that antifreeze only has to be replaced every six years or 600,000 miles, negating the need to check levels every single winter night.

Battery

Remember having to top up the water levels in your car battery? Vehicle batteries were not as sophisticated years ago as they are today, and had to have their water levels checked regularly to reduce the risk of them overheating. Drivers used to have remove the vent cap and look down into individual cells to check water levels, topping them up with distilled water when necessary.  For modern cars this is no longer necessary. Batteries are now sealed units and in most cases are maintenance free, meaning that any battery issues are best left to highly trained professionals, such as the vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage.

Engine protection

If you own a vintage car, or an electric lawnmower, there’s a chance you’ll  be purchasing non-alcohol fuel stabiliser, to protect replace the lead that’s no longer in the fuel and protect it from the ethanol that’s now in modern fuels.  However, if you own a modern car (and live nowhere near grass), you probably haven’t even heard of the stuff. That’s because vehicle engines are a lot more robust, durable and rust-free today than they used to be, brought about largely by the availability of new materials that can be used to manufacture engines. Engines today live a lot longer than they used to, and engine maintenance is always best left to a qualified expert.

 Keep on motoring

Ever wondered why, when driving down a country road on a hot summer day, there’s always someone taking their vintage car out for a drive? Not only does it look good, but it’s also an essential part of maintenance. Many years ago cars had to be driven regularly in order to keep them in tip-top condition. Of course, it still helps to use your car regularly now; keeping it dormant still runs down the battery a very low level as there are so many systems in the car that are “live” and protecting the car when switched off – even though they draw very small amounts of electrical current. But modern cars are more robust than their predecessors and do not require quite as much driving to stay in shape.

Confused by your motor?

tmgPut down that spanner, and get your car maintained in a professional manner. The best way to keep your car in tip top condition is by having it regularly serviced and maintained with your local Trust My Garage member. Our members can service all types of vehicle to the highest standard and can even advise you on some of the checks that you can still carry out yourself today.

And just like the motor vehicle, Trust My Garage has come a long way over the last few years. Today, we are the only truly independent code exclusively for independent garages. Want to find your nearest member? Enter your details in our postcode finder.

It’s all white for UK car sales, but what does your car say about you?

The new car market in the UK is growing, with an 8.4% increase in purchases of new models during February, the biggest increase for more than a decade. In fact, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has revealed that once again the colour white has retained its position as the most popular car colour in the UK for the third year running, a rise of 2.2% from the previous year.

So why has white become the colour of choice for British motorists? Could it be that despite a rise in car sales, as a result of the recession, the public still remains economically cautious, with white cars tending to hold their value for longer than other colours? Is this trend a reflection of the public’s financial prudence?

To discover what your car colour may say about you, Trust My Garage has teamed up with colour psychologist Lucy Curtis to look at the top ten car colours in the UK and what this could reveal about the type of driver you might be.

Top 10 car colours in the UK

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White is the most popular colour car, but what does this say about UK drivers?

White – The number of white cars on Britain’s roads have surged over the last decade, with white cars accounting for almost a quarter of cars on Britain’s roads. If you choose to purchase a white car you are most likely to be someone who is extremely focused, not wishing to be distracted by external factors and with a penchant for order and cleanliness, your car will be sparkling inside and out.

Black – if you’re an owner of a black car, you’re not likely to be someone who fades into the background. You probably carry an air of mystery and sophistication and perhaps give off the impression of being slightly ‘untouchable’.  Not keen on being a laid back driver, you won’t be reckless, but you’re someone who wants to get noticed. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle is well looked after with regular servicing from your local Trust My Garage member.

Grey – Perhaps surprisingly, grey takes the bronze position for colour popularity. In stark opposition to drivers of black cars, if you have a grey car you probably want to remain in the background, not wanting to be noticed by others. You’re unlikely to break the speed limit or creep through amber lights when you should be remaining still.

Blue – Once frequently the most popular car colour in Britain, blue has now slipped to fourth position. As an owner of a blue car it is all about the mind and intellect. Inquisitive by nature, you’ll be keen to learn about the inner workings of your car, meaning you’re not intimidated when it comes to understanding why there is a strange noise coming from your bonnet. Confident of your own abilities you’re not afraid to push your car to its limits, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid regular servicing. On the contrary, you’re likely to be fascinated by your local Trust My Garage technician and will do all you can to learn from them.

Red – It is unsurprising that red is a popular choice when it comes to racing cars, with their highly energised and fast past nature, owners of red cars are likely to want to be noticed. This could lead to an increase in taking risks. Red car drivers are unafraid to queue jump, and typically, accelerator pedals may need a bit more attention than others as your forceful nature may lead to you being heavy footed on the pedals.

Silver – If you’re behind the wheel of a silver car, you likely to be a calm individual, not easily fazed by those around you. Keen to be seen as forward thinking and innovative, whether it’s the latest satnav or tyre pressure monitor, you’ll have all the latest gadgets and gizmos to keep you safe on the road. You’re certainly not someone who is likely to neglect regular car servicing.

Green – As a driver of a green car, it’s all about balance. You’re generally an even paced driver, on the whole, and you’ll be reluctant to take risks, but on occasion you may find yourself going against the norm.

Brown – A practical and down to earth driver, you’ll be reluctant to take risks. Any passenger jumping into your car can rest assured they’re in the hands of a safe and trustworthy driver. Your practical nature means you’re likely to ensure your car is well maintained, with regular car checks and servicing.

Orange – A vibrant outgoing personality is what you can expect of drivers of orange cars. If this is you, you’re likely to be a fun and sociable driver, who loves listening to music as you travel. For you, driving is an experience, not just a case of getting from A to B.

Purple – If purple is your colour of choice, you’ll be reluctant to fit in with the crowd. You’re an individual who likes to do things on their own terms, a trait which translates into your driving style. You have an inner confidence which means you won’t worry about fitting in.

Whatever your style, TMG are here to help

Whatever your driving traits or colour preference, regular car servicing is the key to keeping you and others safe on the road. If you need any help and advice regarding car maintenance, your local Trust My Garage member will be happy to advise. If you need to find your local trusted garage for a service, it’s now easier than ever. Enter your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.

Alternatively you can now download the free Trust My Garage App, allowing you to find services in your local area. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Driving: 5 Key Checks

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Winter is upon us once again. And while we may not be certain of a flurry of snow every year, you can be certain that the Great British weather will throw a combination of wintery gifts our way, bringing difficulties for all of us, especially car drivers. It’s the time of year when you don’t just need to start making changes to the way you drive, but also to the way you look after your vehicle. Breakdowns are far more likely at this time of year due to poor weather conditions. So what can you do yourself to ensure this doesn’t happen and you have a hassle free winter?

Let there be light

Now that the nights have drawn in and it’s dark from mid-afternoon, visibility is a key consideration when driving. Not only are lights essential for you to be able see when driving, but also to ensure other drivers can see you. Regularly check that all the lights on your vehicle are in working order, this includes brake and reversing lights. Ensure that they are clean, especially after wet weather when the roads are muddy, and that the lights are aimed in the right direction and if you find any bulbs that are discoloured, they should be immediately replaced.

Stop right there

Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be serviced regularly. This is especially important during winter months, but how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?

It’s a case of making sure you check them regularly. The winter months can be very wet and sometimes puddles can be difficult to avoid. When driving through a puddle, make sure you test your brakes afterwards by driving at a slow speed and gently applying pressure.

Listen out for warning signs, brakes will let you know when there is a problem whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side while driving, which could indicate a fault with the braking system. Look out for the signs and don’t ignore them. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention. Remember, that you can always take your car to a Trust My Garage member to get the brakes checked. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

A well-oiled machine?

A basic consideration for any car owner when carrying out maintenance checks is to understand the importance of keeping your vehicle well lubricated to ensure it remains in optimum condition and working order. Falling temperatures mean that car fluids will thicken, making it difficult for your vehicle to get the right fluids it needs to run properly.

Make sure you regularly check your oil levels, coolant and brake fluid. If you’re not sure how, visit your local TMG member. You can find them using the search function on our website or by using the Trust My Garage app.

Tread carefully

The importance of robust car tyres cannot be understated, as they are the only part of your vehicle that grips the road; they play a vital part in keeping you and your vehicle safe. Wintery conditions and low tread depth can be a disastrous combination, reducing both your speed and grip. Without sufficient tread depth in wet conditions you may experience a particularly dangerous occurrence called aquaplaning. This is where tyres lose contact with the road surface and travel on top of the water’s surface. With no contact with the road, comes the inability to accelerate, brake or steer properly, and you are likely to lose control of your vehicle, thus significant increasing your risk of accident.

When checking tyre tread it is best to use a tread depth gauge rather than relying on intuition. With this implement to hand, measuring tread depth is not difficult and will take up only minutes of your time. For passenger cars, the European legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm, across 75% of the tyre, although the deeper the depth the better grip you will have – we recommend that you consider changing your tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre, using the gauge. In addition, tyres have tread wear indicators in the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the legal limit and should be replaced. As a temporary alternative there is also a quick test with a 20p coin if you do not have a gauge to hand. Place the coin in the groove of the tyre and if you can see the inner edge of the border of the coin, it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should consider replacing that tyre.

Don’t let the pressure get to you

In addition to tread, checking tyre pressure regularly is vital, even more so during cold weather. Whether using your own pump, or a supermarket garage air pump, here’s how you can do it:-

Check what the tyre pressures should be before you start the pump, you will find this information in your user manual and often on a sticker on the hidden side of the driver or passenger door. Remember that your front and rear tyres may need different pressures. Go round the vehicle with the pump, checking the pressure on each wheel and inflating/deflating as required.

Regularly inspect the condition of the tyres and make sure there are no cracks or bulges, make sure there are no obvious cuts or tears which could lead to a blow-out or puncture and of course don’t forget that spare!

And if you ever find yourself in the event of having to change a tyre on the road, make sure you watch our video:

If you are unsure about your tyres, a visit to your local Trust My Garage member will give you peace of mind and keep you safe on the roads.

Such checks shouldn’t replace regular visits to your local Trust My Garage member for some expert advice; but being aware and prepared for all eventualities will give you peace of mind and a stress free winter.

Don’t blow a gasket over the annual MOT test

For many drivers the annual M.O.T test is enough to send even the most seasoned of drivers into a state of deep shock. The uncertainty of will it, won’t it pass? And for diesel drivers, it just got a lot more complicated.

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In December last year the UK government announced that Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) will form part of the MOT test from February 2014. Tests for diesel cars and lorries have been tightened up to ensure vehicles have a critical exhaust filter if one had originally been fitted as standard.

Garages and testing stations are now required to check for a diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the inspection of the exhaust system as part of the MOT test. Your vehicle will automatically fail the MOT test if the filter had been fitted as standard but is found to be no longer present. You may have had the DPF removed in the past following claims that it will improve the economy, but it is an offence to drive a vehicle that has been modified this way, as it will no longer meet the emissions standards the car achieved when it was approved for sale in the UK.

A DPF works by trapping solid particulate matter from exhaust gases. This type of filter has been in use for more than 20 years and helps meet European emission standards, improving air quality and health standards.

It’s just one more thing for drivers of diesel vehicles to consider when preparing their car for an MOT test. With so much to think about, how do you prepare your car for an MOT to give it the greatest chance of passing?

We spoke to Trust My Garage member Falcon Motors in Warwick about M.O.T testing and asked if there was anything vehicle owners could do at home prior to their M.O.T test. Garage owner Roy Wall, who has over 20 years’ experience in the motor trade, had this advice to give.

“We get a lot of drivers coming to us who are worried about their M.O.T test, but they don’t need to be. Not many people understand the test and it’s the unknown which causes fear amongst drivers. What many people don’t know is there are actually a few things that drivers can check themselves (or with the help of a friend) before they bring their vehicle to us for an MOT. Checking vital parts regularly may increase the chances of passing your M.O.T.

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Lights

Start your engine and get a friend to check the outside of your vehicle. Are all your lights working? Including the one that lights your number plate? Remember also to check the reservoir of your windscreen wipers to ensure fluid levels are correct and not empty.

Number plate

Did you know an illegible number plate could cause you to fail your M.O.T test? Make sure this doesn’t happen to you and give your number plate a quick clean. If its illegible, it’s illegal.

Wipers

You will fail an MOT if you do not clear your windscreen, so make sure you wash it before hand. Chips need to be repaired and if cracks are apparent, you may need to replace the entire windscreen.

Horn

Make sure your horn sounds when pressed.

Brake fluid and Oil

Like with windscreen washer fluid, make sure the oil and brake fluid are regularly checked and topped up to the correct level.

Tyres

Make sure the pressure of your tyres is correct to the manufacturer’s handbook and that the tread of each tyre is at least 1.6mm

“You should also check to ensure there are no visible signs of corrosion, all mirrors are intact and the vehicle’s seatbelts operate correctly. While the above tests are outlined in regard to the M.O.T test, it is recommended, and good driving practice, to check your vehicle frequently and ensure it is regularly serviced.”

And finally, you should also ensure you book your test with a registered test centre or a trusted garage (look for the blue logo with white triangles which details centres approved to carry out M.O.Ts).

Regular servicing and frequent maintenance checks are always the best chance you can give your vehicle of passing its MOT. Make sure you find a garage you can trust by entering your postcode into our website.

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Why the MOT debate isn’t about price, but regular servicing

You will probably have seen our recent blog post explaining why the cheapest MOT isn’t always the best. It’s a popular consumer issue at the moment and many motorists are looking for the best deal, unaware that they might not always be getting the best service. There are 20,000 MOT stations in the UK and 18,000 of those are at independent garages. So we turned to one of our members and asked them where they stand on the popular topic of MOTs.

CavalieroutsideAll independent garages can give a qualified opinion on the MOT but Cavalier Garage, in Manchester has been carrying out high quality MOTs for over twenty years so their views are based on considerable experience and are worth listening to. Owner Rob Harris is a qualified MOT tester and has two other MOT testers on his team. He explains what he had to do to in order to operate a garage business that was qualified and trusted to perform the MOT test.

Becoming certified for MOT testing is quite a rigorous process. You have to apply in principle to VOSA with in-depth plans of your workshop, indicating where your testing bay will be and the facilities you have available for it. Then an enforcement officer comes out and has a look at your workshop. If they are happy that you have the facilities for MOT testing then they will accept your application in principle. It’s then up to you to install the necessary high quality equipment for MOT testing in the workshop.

After that you have to ensure that you have staff who are authorised MOT testers. They need the training and the certificates to achieve this and you have to send them for re-training regularly to ensure they are always up-to-date in their skillset. You also need someone in charge of quality control and administration. Then, VOSA need to approve your MOT testing bay and your MOT testers and you are told to audit your MOT testers’ quality every two months. It’s a long process that is on-going and it’s a big investment.”

We mentioned before that a garage providing an MOT needs to cover the costs associated with providing it and therefore often can’t afford to offer MOTs at an unrealistic or headline-grabbing price. This does mean, though, that when you have an MOT performed at one of our member garage you receive a proper job, and will be charged fairly only for parts that need to be replaced.

For Cavalier Garages, price is not so much an issue as the fact that motorists need to treat the MOT as a test of their vehicle’s road safety and environmental standards. It’s not the same as having a vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.

Cavalier1Rob explains: “An MOT and a service are two entirely different things. When was the last time you saw someone pull up on the hard shoulder of a motorway with breakdown and they are baffled as to how it happened because their car passed its MOT the day before? It’s not because it was missed in the MOT but because how well the car runs is not part of a standard MOT test (other than testing for emissions).

“It’s common sense. A car is such a big investment so why wouldn’t you want to have it serviced regularly to ensure it was always performing safely and correctly? It makes a lot more sense than relying on an annual MOT to tell you if there’s something wrong with your car, when the MOT test is not designed to do that.

We are always telling motorists that there are some checks they can carry out on their car themselves, in between their regular services, to ensure that their car remains safe on the road. Remembering the acronym WARM and checking your “Wipers, Anti-freeze, tyres (Rubber) and having regular Maintenance in winter can keep your car safe in potentially dangerous conditions. We always recommend you frequently check your petrol, oil and lights too. Regular checks will help keep your car in top condition, but there is absolutely no alternative to regular servicing, certainly not the annual MOT test!”

If you live in Stretford, Manchester, make sure you visit Cavalier Garages for regular servicing. If you don’t live in Stretford but want to find a garage you can trust, enter your postcode in our postcode finder and we will pinpoint your nearest Trust My Garage member. Don’t forget you can now leave feedback on our website too!

Why the cheapest MOT is rarely the best

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The cheapest MOT is rarely the best

As Britain’s leading independent garage scheme with almost 2000 members, we pride ourselves on looking after our garage’s customers. This is why we have our Customer Charter, which shows our commitment in providing the best possible care to those who pay for a service, MOT or repair at any of our garages.

Unfortunately, some franchised dealers and other independent garages don’t have the same idea. Let’s take MOT tests as an example.

‘The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.’

This statement is taken from the government’s own website, and it appears to give a perfectly clear and straightforward message for motorists. Unfortunately, the way we treat the MOT test, both in the motor trade and as private motorists, allows commercial considerations to get in the way of safety.

What this often means is the cheapest MOT test is not necessarily the best. This point should be immediately clear to even the most cost-sensitive motorist. The tests can only be conducted by a trained and qualified individual; he or she will require sophisticated, expensive and regularly calibrated equipment and the test should take around 45 minutes to complete.

Garages charging around £20 for an MOT test – or even less in some cases – are not charities. The result is that the overall bill may be significantly higher than expected as the garage seeks to cover the cost of providing the MOT test at an unrealistic and headline-grabbing price.

And the financial pressure on motorists today means that they are not entirely innocent when it comes to their MOT test, either.

Many motorists today use the MOT as an alternative to regular maintenance and submit a car for testing to “see what it fails on” rather than presenting a properly maintained and safe car in expectation that it will pass. This means that they only deal with the failures rather than ensuring that the entire car is safe and reliable.

As an MOT test is a measure of the minimum mechanical standard of a vehicle at that time, this means cars that are between tests may be in a particularly poor state of repair – or even dangerous.

So, a lot of garages respond to this by offering a “no re-test fee” for failures and the cycle continues.

Franchised dealers, with their high labour rates, have often been known to treat the MOT as a loss-leader to retain customers with older vehicles. They also try to give the impression that their MOT test is somehow superior to ones carried out by an independent garage.

Well, this tactic is clearly not working as more than 80 per cent of MOTs are carried out in independent garages.

The UK has one of the best road-worthiness test regimes in Europe, which is reflected in the high levels of road safety compared to some of our European neighbours. But we, at Trust My Garage, are worried that the downward cost spiral for the MOT test in our ever competitive world means that this situation may not last.

So, where does all that leave you, the motorist?

The obvious answer is to place your faith in Trust My Garage. Even if the price is discounted, a motorist can take comfort in the knowledge that any one of our garages will do a proper job – and charge fairly for only those parts that need to be replaced.

In the longer term, the answer is a fixed, or minimum, price for MOTs and a mandatory re-test fee. After all, fair pricing for MOT tests is not only better for motorists, but for garages too. And it will be great news for other road users because more cars will be safer if the industry overall cleans up its act.

The Independent Garage Association will continue to lobby and campaign for the government to enforce this. It is one of the roles of Trust My Garage to educate people to the reasons behind this stance.

Do you want to know where your nearest Trust My Garage is for an honest and professional MOT? Just type your postcode into our garage finder to find your nearest member.