Blog Archives

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!

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Is your car ready for the school run test?

If you are a parent with a child under the age of 16, you may be feeling a little stressed right now. This time of year is difficult and expensive for parents preparing their children for the start of the new school term. There’s such a lot to think about; uniforms, equipment, textbooks, bags, new shoes – and that’s just for starters. The last thing you are going to need is for your car to breakdown on you during the infamous school run!

About one in five cars is driving a child or children to school in rush hour traffic and with the five million primary school children in the UK living on average of one and a half miles from their place of learning, it means there are a lot of cars on the road doing short journeys, five days a week. These driving conditions can cause much more wear and tear on your vehicle than you would imagine and no busy parent wants the stress or expense of a breakdown at this time of year.

Being aware of what causes damage to a vehicle can help reduce the risk of a breakdown or failure during the school run. Here are our top tips to shield you from unexpected repair costs as the kids go back to school.

schoolrunMake sure your engine is properly lubricated.

Most school runs are quite short journeys, which means that the engine on your vehicle does not have enough time to warm up properly. Engine oil has to reach its full operating temperature in order to lubricate properly This is more likely to be achieved over faster, longer journeys.

What’s the solution?                                        

Let your car ‘idle’ for a few minutes before you begin your journey and this will help your engine warm up ahead of your drive. It will also help to warm, your car up once the cold nights start to draw in. Remember though, don’t go back inside your house while your car warms up – it only takes a few seconds for a thief to take advantage of an empty vehicle.

Concentrate on reading the road.                                                 

Hurried braking causes greater wear on the brake pads, which will lead to more frequent trips to the garage.

What’s the solution?

Rather than stopping and starting in traffic, slow down and concentrate on reading the road. By driving more slowly and anticipating when you need to stop, especially around the school environment where young people are likely to be crossing the road, you will apply less pressure to your brakes and gears. This will also help you to save fuel.

Keep an eye on your engine warning and DPF lights

If you drive a diesel vehicle, your are more likely to find your vehicle suffering from engine management problems if you frequently go on short journeys in your car. This is because of the diesel particulate filter (DPF).

The DPF, which traps larger soot particles within the filter and allows smaller particles and gases to escape, can only operate efficiently once your vehicle is driven at 45mph for more than five minutes.

Stop/start driving and motoring at slow speeds means that the soot accumulates and the DPF cannot create sufficient heat to regenerate. Once the soot concentration reaches about 75%, it will need to be looked at by a professional to be regenerated. Don’t ignore the engine warning light if your diesel car is used mainly for short journeys!

What’s the solution?

Make sure you get your car to the nearest Trusted garage if your engine warning or DPF lights start flashing on your dashboard. This is an indication that there is something that needs attention and if ignored, could incur costly repair expenses. In fact, any warning light illuminated on your dashboard is a signal that your vehicle needs some expert attention. If it’s orange you need to contact your local Trust My Garage member as soon as possible – if it’s red, stop the car and call them IMMEDIATELY

You can find your nearest Trust My Garage member by entering your postcode on the Trust My Garage website, here.

Independent garages have access to the same technical information and training as main dealers and are fully equipped to service any type of vehicle to the highest standard, providing you with outstanding value for money.