In the overwhelming majority of cases, there is no argument over the result of the MOT. The system has been set up to be as standardised as it can be across the UK. All testers follow the same checklist, have the same level of training and work to same guidelines. Most drivers accept the result of the tests without any argument, whether it’s a pass or a fail. You’re unlikely to be in the position of disagreeing with the result of a MOT. But if you are and want to take things further, there is a set procedure for appealing.
Raising Concerns in the First Instance
It’s always best to have a chat with the mechanic who has done the test before escalating matters further. If the mechanic has time, they will usually be able to talk you through the results of the MOT and point out the areas of the car where faults have been identified. Often, a quick chat will be enough to clear up any misunderstanding. However, if you’re still unhappy about the result of the MOT, you still have the right to take things further. The most likely scenario is that your car has failed the MOT when you believe it should have passed. However, there is also the opposite possibility of a car being given a pass certificate when you are sure the mechanic has missed something.
Appealing Against a Fail
There are strict time limits should you wish to make an appeal against a MOT failure. You have 14 days in which to fill in the complaints form on the DVSA website. The DVSA then has 5 days to contact you and discuss the matter. Obviously, the sooner you can get this done, the better. If you believe your car has passed when it should have failed, then you should use the same online complaints form. Don’t make any changes to your car or have it repaired until the DVSA gets back to you. They may wish to arrange an independent inspection for your car, and can only do this if you haven’t had it fixed first. The most common outcome for an appeal is that the DVSA will get in touch and ask you to take your car for a second test. You will not be charged for this. After the test, a full inspection report will be sent to you.
The DVSA has its own methods of assessing the assessors. MOT testers have to go through a set training programme in order to register as a tester in the first place, and then sit an exam before they are let loose on the public’s cars. Also, once qualified, there is an annual requirement for ongoing training and assessment on an annual basis. The DVSA uses computer modelling to look at how many cars are being passed and failed at each test centre. Sometimes, discrepancies have simple explanations. For example, motorbikes as a group tend to pass MOT more often than cars. So a garage specialising in bikes would expect to see a higher percentage of passes than a car garage along the road. If there are no reasonable explanations, the DVSA may decide to book a “mystery shopper” appointment. They will send in a member of staff under cover, with a car which has known faults. If the inspector can’t pick up the known faults on the test vehicle, the DVSA may suspend their registration until they undertake more training and assessment.
Problems with the Garage?
Often, it can be hard to work out whether you actually have a problem with the MOT test itself, or with the customer service at the garage. The DVSA is only interested in problems with the MOT test itself, and the quality of the inspection process. If you have other complaints, then they won’t be able to help you. However, Trading Standards at your local Council may be able to help instead. They are interested in the “rogue trader” aspects of MOT tests or garages in general. They can help if you think you’ve been vastly overcharged, or if the garage is being dishonest about the general condition of your car. Trading Standards may, or may not, want to investigate what you are telling them. Their decision will depend on what you are saying happened, and whether Trading Standards have had other complaints in the past about similar issues. All of this could take months to sort out, and isn’t going to resolve your problems of having a MOT fail certificate. Try to get another MOT done elsewhere as a second opinion. Remember also that even though you’re going through the process of appealing a MOT test or quibbling with the garage over its service standards, that doesn’t remove the need for a valid MOT certificate for your car. You’ll still get points on your licence or a fine if you don’t have the right paperwork.
Choosing a Reputable Garage
If you are sure that your car is going to sail through its MOT test, then you should get the same service from pretty much any garage, given that all centres conform to the same standards. The difference is often in cars which need work doing to get them through their test. All drivers want to be sure that the mechanics doing work on their cars are as professional and experienced as possible. The best way to find a local garage is often by reputation or word of mouth. Although many owners feel they have to stick to a main dealer for their servicing and repairs this is not the case. You are free to have work done on your car anywhere – just make sure that the garage stamps the book to prove you’ve had your car serviced according to schedule. If you have a specialist or vintage car, consider taking it to a specialist for that brand. If your car is more than 40 years olds it won’t need a MOT test, but must still be roadworthy.