It’s been just a fortnight since changes were made to the MOT, and already car owners are being ripped off by some garages, according to a new report.
As of May 20, the MOT test has included three new fault categories: minor, major and dangerous.
The latter – and most serious – of these requires the owner to have the issue resolved before being able to use the car again.
Car site MotorEasy said it has already had reports of mechanics bullying motorists into paying over the odds for repairs – suggesting that they cannot take their vehicle away and thus must pay the price they quote for the job.
Motorists being ‘held to ransom’: Car owners have already reported that garages have pumped up the price of repairs for faults that need to be resolved to pass the recently updated MOT
The vehicle ownership and maintenance service provider said garages are using the new categories to ‘hold motorists to ransom’ over unnecessary repairs.
Under the new Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) rules, faults found during an MOT are classified under the three levels.
While minor faults can be repaired at a later date and won’t result in the vehicle failing the roadworthiness test, official guidance states that a major fault will result in the car automatically flunking an MOT and will need to be fixed before it is retested.
However, cars that are deemed to have a dangerous defect should not be driven at all until the problem has been fixed – meaning owners can be made to feel that they have to fork out for the cost of repairs at the garage conducting the MOT.
This is not the case and they could instead ask other garages to quote for the work and potentially collect their car.
MotorEasy said that within just two weeks of the changes being introduced, it has received reports from drivers that they’re being trapped into getting repairs done.
In many cases owners are being charged over the odds by mechanics knowing that the new rules state that a vehicle shouldn’t be driven again until the dangerous fault has been resolved.
But despite the changes, the law states that garages have no power to stop motorists from driving their car away, regardless of the severity of the MOT failure.
‘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 have already seen examples of garages using an interpretation of the wording in the DVSA guidance to bullying motorists to get repairs done before leaving the premises, which they have 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.’
Under the new MOT rules introduced on 20 May 2018, any car deemed to have a ‘dangerous’ defect cannot be driven until the fault has been repaired. Some unscrupulous garages are reportedly using this restriction to pump up the cost of repairs knowing drivers can’t drive their vehicles away to have work carried out elsewhere
The DVSA’s MOT service manager, Neil Barlow, clarified: ‘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.’
Be he then confirmed that: ‘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.’
With many motorists unaware that they are not restricted to having dangerous defects repaired at the same location where the MOT is conducted, car owners are already claiming they’ve been fleeced garages that are also approved test centres.
Rob Cody, of Watford, told MotorEasy that he 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, Ford Mondeo owner Donald McLean, of Clydebank, was told he needed new indicator covers and a suspension arm in order to pass the 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 explained.
Both drivers said they were made to feel that they could not take the car from the garage and had to borrow money to cover the cost of the repair bills.
According to MotorEasy stats, around 40 per cent of cars fail their MOT every year, with the average repair cost to make the vehicle roadworthy working out at £174.
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