Recently the MOT tests now run by the Department of the Environment have been discussed by the media. Some of your readers may know that apart from an increase in the test fee, the test procedure has been changed to include some 42 testable items and if the MOT Testers Manual (HMSO – £2) is consulted some 250-odd Principal Reasons for Failure are given. May I suggest that if the conditions in this manual were applied to even new cars there would be some embarrassment to the car manufacturers and their associated motor trade pre-delivery checks. If anyone doubts this, reference to correspondence in the motoring press will readily confirm the existence of customers who purchased unroadworthy new cars.
Several other points readily come to mind:
(1) What value does the motorist or the country gain for the expenditure involved in the new MOT. procedures? Especially if a recently quoted figure that less than 2% of all car accidents are due to mechanical defects is correct.
(2) The Department of the Environment’s policy appears to be an upgrading of the whole test system, with the installation of rolling roads, brake testing, shocker testing and other expensive equipment. I am not against the installation of this equipment on an honest commercial basis, but if the money to cover the capital outlay at the garages who are testing is to come from the motorist who has no real choice in the matter, then I feel we are being compelled to finance the stick that will be used to beat us.
(3) Are some less honest test garages contributing to their income and the sudden jump in failure rates? – finding extra work by citing even one out of the 250-odd failure reasons. Some examples are: no water in water bottle, a split or insecure CV or steering joint gaiter or if the shock absorber shows fluid leakage. No allowance seems to be made for the fact that the “shocker” may well fulfil its primary function for a considerable period, even a year for a small seepage. One wonders why lever arm shockers have an oil tiller and the manufacturers sell oil for topping up at service intervals.
(4) In the event of a fail certificate (with which he disagrees) being issued, what redress has the motorist got well, he can obtain a V.T. 17 form, and paying his £4. to again, his car can be re-examined, but this time in the presence of a DOE examiner. I understand that the test is repeated in its entirety, when surely in view of the now escalating costs a specific rather than a general examination is required. However, before embarking on this course he would be well advised to consider whether the DOE examiner is likely to question or how interpret some of the more nebulous statements in this quasi-legal testers manual. More than likely when his delays, inconvenience and costs are taken into account he will adopt the “pay up” and “shut up” attitude.
I still recall the introduction of MOT tests and the efforts that were made by Motor Sport and others to ensure a fair deal for older cars. Official assurances given at that time seem to conflict with the proliferation of rules and regulations imposed by the government and their fast growing band of civil servants. I would suggest that these gentlemen turn their attention to some of this country’s financial and productive objectives rather than trying to ensure we are on target for 1984. Glasgow, Thomas O. Adam