Call to report blundering mechanics

MOTORISTS in Suffolk are today being urged to shop blundering mechanics if they believe their vehicle has not had a proper MoT.Although the county's trading standards officers only received a few complaints about faulty tests last year, a national report claims just eight out of 36 tests were carried out correctly in an undercover investigation by a consumer magazine.

MOTORISTS in Suffolk are today being urged to shop blundering mechanics if they believe their vehicle has not had a proper MoT.

Although the county's trading standards officers only received a few complaints about faulty tests last year, a national report claims just eight out of 36 tests were carried out correctly in an undercover investigation by a consumer magazine.

Today David Baker, assistant director of Suffolk trading standards, said: " If sub standard MoT's are suspected the details are passed to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, formally the Vehicle Inspectorate, have the expertise and the powers to scrutinise the tests and remove a garages licence to perform MoT's if they are found to be negligent.

"Suffolk Trading Standards received a handful of cases relating to possible sub standard MoT's in 2003 and passed details onto VOSA to follow through. "Consumers should be aware that an MoT check does not cover every element of a car and so should not be considered as a certificate of roadworthiness. Sound advice would be to always have the car checked out by an independent mechanic or vehicle examiner."

Among the problems in the report, by consumer magazine Which?, were mechanics missing simple faults such as a passenger door that would not open from the inside, a broken latch on a rear seat and a cut and frayed seat belt.

The results of the undercover operation have prompted the magazine to call on the VOSA which administers the MoT, to tackle the problem urgently.

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Which? said cost could be one reason why garages are conducting tests that could allow a "potential death trap'" on to the road.

The report stated: "MoTs aren't very lucrative, so it's not very surprising to see junior mechanics rushing through them while more experienced staff are busy charging £60 to £70 an hour for more complex jobs.'

Vosa, which replaced the Vehicle Inspectorate, is planning to introduce a new computer system designed to improve the testing procedure and spot garages which pass or fail excessive numbers of cars.

However, it told Which? that the Road Traffic Act prevented its researchers from driving faulty cars and therefore carrying out the kind of tests conducted by the magazine.

Helen Parker, editor of Which?, said: "Vosa needs to tackle the problem urgently. It must find a way to conduct more convincing research and stop incompetent mechanics from vetting the nation's cars.'

Suffolk trading standards officers advise anyone with MoT inquiries to telephone the VOSA on 0845 6005977.

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