Garages advertising cheap MOTs may not be as cheap as they seem. The ‘bargain basement’ MOT test can just be a marketing ploy to get your car on the ramp, before finding a reason to fail the MOT, with quotes for repairs then running into hundreds if not thousands of pounds.
The consumer website Money Saving Expert has been running a cheap MOT exposé. Users report how supposed MOT failures with estimates for hundreds of pounds of repairs to obtain a valid MOT certificate often pass the MOT when taken to a different centre: often one charging the statutory MOT price of £54.85 and without a vested interest in getting any repair work.
“My trusted MOT man at our local garage shows me this time and time again on his MOT ramps,” says Motoriety’s man in the trade. “Cars that fail a half-price MOT come into his workshop for estimate following a very expensive quote at the cheap MOT centre, and no fault is found: the cars leave with a fresh MOT cert. My own experience shows that pass rates in cheap MOT centres can be very inconsistent. Better to pay a fair rate for a proper job and know that the tester is playing it straight.”
Forty percent of cars fail the MOT test first time, with a blown bulb causing failures for one out of five. It’s always a good idea to have a set of spare bulbs in your car (a legal requirement in many parts of Europe) and a decent MOT tester will usually swap the blown bulb, or adjust misaligned headlights as part of the test.
“Car owners can save a lot of headaches by doing a quick pre-MOT check on their car before going for a test,” says our expert. “Check all the lights work and change any dud bulbs. Check tyre pressures and look at the tyres for signs of worn tread or damaged sidewalls. Give the car a clean, vacuum it out and set up any extra seats, making sure the seat belts are available, as some testers will dish out an advisory notice on seats not properly locked in position.
“Top up the windscreen washer bottle and make sure the washer jets hit the windscreen correctly. Check the wiper blades and change them if they fail to wipe the ‘screen cleanly – amazing the difference that can make to a driver. Take anything hanging off the windscreen or dashboard and put it in the glovebox. Put the current MOT on the dashtop, so the tester has something to refer to.
“Make the tester’s job easier and slightly more comfortable by sending a clean car in good order, with some simple checks done in advance. Save time and money by doing the basics before the MOT test starts. Most of my car trader colleagues do the simple checks in person before the MOT, and our sales cars fail only a handful of times a year.”
As for cheap MOT centres, if you know a good one that saves money and does a proper job, recommend it in our online ratings system. Likewise add the details of your trusted local garage, whatever they charge for an MOT test.
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