MOT Test: Changes Could Leave You 'Held To Ransom'
Car garages are already using the changes to the way the MOT works to ‘hold motorists to ransom’, according to a study carried out by MotorEasy.
Dangerous, Major and Minor MOT Test Failures
Under the new Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) rules, faults found during an MOT test are classified as either dangerous, major or minor, with official guidance suggesting major faults should be repaired immediately and cars with dangerous faults not be driven until the problem has been fixed.
“We would, naturally, never condone driving on public roads with a dangerous car and anyone who does so will still be risking a fine and penalty points if they are stopped by police,” explained MotorEasy founder, Duncan McClure Fisher.
“However, we've already seen examples of garages using an interpretation of the wording in the DVSA guidance to bully motorists to get repairs done before leaving the premises, which they've no right to do.
“Unscrupulous businesses could not only make customers feel they’re unable to take their car away if it fails, but could also hold the customer to ransom over parts and labour prices as a result. After all, if you think you can’t drive the car away, you lose all your negotiation power.”
This could mean that some motorists who don’t fully understand their rights may feel trapped into getting repairs done at the workshop where the MOT test was carried out, with this also used as leverage by garages to charge over the odds.
Garages have no power to stop motorists from driving their car away, regardless of the severity of the MOT failure.
Previously, MotorEasy advised members to book MOTs early so that they had time to shop around for any work necessary before their road tax expired. But the interpretation of the new rules make it more difficult to take advantage of this.
"Garages are unable to prevent owners from driving their cars away."
The DVSA’s MOT Service Manager, Neil Barlow, said: “DVSA’s priority is to help you keep your vehicle safe to drive.
“If a car has failed its MOT with a dangerous fault, DVSA’s advice is that it should not be driven until the defect is repaired. This is because it’s dangerous to both the driver and other road users.
“Garages are unable to prevent owners from driving their cars away. But they will provide advice to the owner on what they should do to keep the car safe.”
Rob, from Watford, was put in a difficult situation when his Toyota Auris failed its MOT because of a faulty rear seat belt and was told that he couldn’t drive the car away, despite the fact he had no passengers travelling with him in the car. He said: “It was really stressful; I have a long commute and needed to get home, but I also didn’t want to be ripped off."
Similarly, Clydebank Ford Mondeo owner, Donald, needed new indicator covers and a suspension arm in order to pass his MOT, but was concerned at the six hours of expensive labour he was quoted by the garage that carried out the test. “I knew other garages would do the job quicker, saving me £200, but I didn’t want to get a fine so paid the extra,” he said.
Both drivers said they were made to feel that they could not take the car from the garage and had to borrow money in order to pay the bills.
MOT Test Failures
Around 40% of cars fail their MOT test every year, with repairs needed to pass costing on average £174 - if this is you read our guide to MOT test failures.
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