Council & Test-Only MOT Centre Myth Busted

By: Motor Easy
MOT test centres or garages - which is more likely to pass you?

In recent years it has become accepted as fact that MOT test centres or 'test-only' MOT centres are less likely to unfairly fail your car than a garage that can also repair it (as they presumably will be the ones carrying out this repair work).

A quick search of the internet reveals quotes such as these:

"[As Council MOT Test Centres] generally only carry out tests and don't do repairs, there's no incentive for mechanics to find faults that don't exist."

"[As Council MOT Test Centres don't do repairs] there's no vested interest in failing a car simply to boost income for its own workshop."

"If you're fed up with worrying about unscrupulous garages making your car's MOT a misery, turning to a council MOT centre could be the answer."

wheel and brake check MOT testers need to complete a series of exams before issuing certificates

MOT test failure rates - what do they show?

MotorEasy issued a Freedom Of Information request to DVSA, the agency that administers the MOT test, requesting data to show if Council or 'test-only' centres have either a lower MOT failure rate than the average, or if the DVSA's compliance inspections have revealed that they make fewer mistakes.

Unfortunately, DVSA were not able to provide this - they don't need it in their day-to-day operations.

DVSA did say that all MOT garages are held to the same standards and randomly inspected in the same way. So their records don't show if a garage does repairs or tests only. Only whether the garage is compliant or under investigation.

There is no factual evidence that Council MOT or 'test-only' centres have significantly different failure or error rates than any other garage, but it is very unlikely because DVSA hold all individual MOT testers to the same criteria and monitor them in the same way.

(As a bit of background - every MOT tester needs to individually complete rigorous training and pass a series of exams in order to become qualified to carry out an MOT test at an authorised testing station)

If a garage or test centre passes or fails too many cars (as a percentage of the cars they see) DVSA will step in to investigate.

DVSA can turn up at anytime and re-test a car that has just been through the MOT, so garages can't risk passing or failing a car unfairly. MOTs create too much business for them to take the risk of losing their license.

Check your car's MOT failure rate - for free!

Car Repairs: The Biggest Threat To Your Wallet...

Whether you get your MOT tested at a Council / 'test-only' MOT centre or not, the repair bill for a legitimate failure can still be unfair.

It is easy for a garage to tell you something needs replacing to pass the MOT test when it can be repaired, or that it is only available as part of set, or needs to be changed at the same time as another (expensive) part.

Unfortunately, scrutinising thousands of repair bills shows that garages habitually increase labour times above the manufacturer recommendations. When labour rates are taken into account (at up to £230 per hour!), you can see how this makes a significant difference to your repair bill.

MotorEasy continually come across (and put an end to) spurious justifications for unnecessary or overpriced repair work from garages.

It is why we have built engineers and systems to spot if the failure or repair bill is suspicious. As well as this, we continuously monitor the MotorEasy network for you. If we find a garage to be behaving in an unscrupulous manner, they are removed.

Let Us Handle Your MOT Test

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Be Safe & Save

Book through MotorEasy means we'll check the MOT result and repair quote (including inspecting parts if needs be) and give you a second opinion. If you are concerned about anything on your car going into the MOT test (or car servicing), simply report those concerns during the booking process. Should they be likely to cause an MOT failure, MotorEasy will query the result if the car passes the MOT.

Plus, when you book through MotorEasy, you can be sure our engineers and systems will check that your car gets all the MOT, service and maintenance work needed to keep it safe and reliable for another year. But without adding things you don't need just to jack the bill up.

23% of MOT tests (at all types of MOT Centre) had the wrong MOT result.

Are All MOT Results Correct? No...

Large parts of the MOT test rely on the tester's discretion, so there will always be discrepancies. DVSA have published their 'Compliance Survey'* which revealed that 23% of tests (at all types of MOT Centre) had the wrong MOT result.

Because the vast majority of MOT tests are conducted at garages that do repairs, it is probably fair to say that those testers are contributing more to the discrepancies than test-only centres.

But as DVSA believe more cars pass when they should not (so are potentially unsafe) than fail when they should pass (because a garage wants to inflate your repair bill) there can be no credible suggestion that garages that also repair cars fail them unfairly - more often they pass cars that they should not.

Sadly, that's not to say that garages don't over-charge customers, as MotorEasy can also reveal:

Mot safety check MotorEasy check workshop findings to ensure you only pay for necessary work, always at a great price

Should You Use MOT Test-Only Centres?

The Negatives:

  • Using a test-only centre means that if the car fails, you will have to move the car to another garage for repairs
  • Test-only centres usually don't offer any helpful extras like collection & delivery
  • Test-only centres can't service your car, and if you're looking for car reliability you probably want to save money by getting an MOT and Service at the same time. (If you have an extended car warranty you'll also need to keep it serviced every year)


The Positives:

  • If your car fails you will actually be given the failure certificate. This lists the failures and advisories, so you can check them. At a grage that does repairs, you may never see the failure certificate (although you can ask for it), so you won't know if you are being told the truth about the car's needs.
  • With some failures, you will be able to get quotes for repairs from several garages for comparison. But with many failures, the garage will insist on seeing the car before giving you a quote. This is because the failure may need a minor repair or a major repair, and without inspecting the car, the garage can't be certain.
  • Be aware, some garages will still increase the quote once they see the car, sometimes for a genuine reason, sometimes because they deliberately quoted low to get the car into the workshop.
  • When you book with MotorEasy, our engineers and systems do all the checking and negotiating, so you don't have to.

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