Testing stations passing one in seven vehicles that should fail MOT, investigation finds

Survey of motorists reveals 11.9 per cent know of a local garage with a ‘reputation for being lenient’ on vehicle testing

Nearly one in seven vehicles that passed their MOT last year should have failed as garages failed to uphold government testing standards, according to an exclusive investigation by What Car?.

Analysis of thenDVSA’s MOT Compliance Survey (2019 – 2020) found 13.58 per cent of vehicles that passed their MOT should have failed, with MOT testers missing potentially dangerous defects on vehicles.

The figure equates to more than 2.9 million vehicles on UK roads that should have had an MOT fail, according to the latest available MOT statistics.

For the 2019 – 2020 MOT Compliance Survey, a team of DVSA expert vehicle examiners retested a randomly selected sample of 1671 vehicles, which had undergone an MOT test at test stations across the UK.

The aim of the study is to understand whether correct testing standards are being applied by the industry, and the DVSA disagreed with the test outcomes in 16.82 per cent of cases, with 3.23 per cent of failures deemed to be worthy of a pass certificate.

In 70.1 per cent of cases, the DVSA found at least one defect which the MOT test station missed or had incorrectly recorded, while the DVSA experts disagreed with three or more defects in 56.5 per cent of vehicles.

Safety critical features such as the brakes and suspension were subject to the biggest discrepancy between the DVSA and MOT testers.

Brakes had the highest number of misdiagnosed defects, at 17.74 per cent, followed by the suspension at 14.56 per cent, tyres at 13.22 per cent, and lights, reflectors and electrical equipment at 11.51 per cent.

Following its investigation, the DVSA issued 24 disciplinary action recordings and 179 advisory warning letters to the vehicle test sites it visited.

Between them, they were responsible for 12.1 per cent of all vehicles re-tested by the government agency.

What Car? surveyed 1425 used car buyers as part of its investigation, with 11.9 per cent stating they knew of a local garage that has a reputation for passing cars for their MOT.

For 76.8 per cent of buyers, a prospective car’s MOT record was either ‘very important’ or ‘important’ when deciding on whether to buy.

Steve Huntingford, editor, What Car?, said: “Our investigation has shown the significant differences between the DVSA’s own testing standards and those upheld by some in the industry.

“This poses a serious concern, with potentially hazardous vehicles being allowed to remain on the road, putting their drivers and other road users at risk.

“It also complicates matters for used buyers who often rely on a vehicle’s MOT history as an indicator for a car’s safety and reliability.”

Chris Price, DVSA’s Head of MOT Policy, said: “We carry out the MOT Compliance Survey to maintain MOT standards.

“The survey targets a random selection of vehicles and is designed to identify problems with MOT testing in order that we can put them right.

“The public can play their part in maintaining high MOT standards by reporting any concerns to us on GOV.UK.”

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.


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