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Benefits

  • Unlimited written representations to VOSA in defense of any disciplinary action
  • We provide unlimited written appeal representations to the Secretary of State for Transport
  • Unlimited advice when VOSA conduct an Inverted Appeal (VT19i) or Statutory Appeal (VT19)
  • Annual VTS MOT Inspection Check and Risk Based Assessment report to help assure full compliance with VOSA

Latest News

Automotive Technician Accreditation
Those of you who have experienced the nightmare of trying to get unqualified staff through the complexities of the ‘Nominated Tester Training Assessment’ exam will be relieved to know that there is now another route to becoming a Nominated Tester. If you have read the latest copy of ‘ Matters of Testing’, you will be aware that the ‘IMI’ have introduced a new scheme known as ‘Automotive Technician Accreditation’. Though this scheme does not offer training, for a fee of about £250, your candidate may attend one of their designated centres for an independent assessment of their knowledge and capabilities. This allows the candidate to demonstrate his/her abilities during the assessment process without the pressures encountered by a formal timed examination. Success at level 3 will allow your candidate direct access to VOSA’s ‘Nominated Tester Training (Light Vehicle)’ course, the route to eventual qualification as a NT! For further information, please contact the IMI through their dedicated website www.automotivetechnician.org.uk

Qwik Fit-up!
Having campaigned for many years for realistic MOT fees, it is particularly galling to observe the price war currently being waged between the ‘big boys’, who are offering MOT’s at half price or less! These idiots are literally draining away the lifeblood of our industry, as the smaller garages are forced to follow suit! Regular readers of this publication will know that we are vehemently opposed to any kind of discounting, believing that it reduces the integrity of both the scheme and those involved in it. The more discerning vehicle presenter will eventually realise of course that there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ and hopefully come to the conclusion that it is more cost effective to steer clear (no pun intended!) of those who may have a vested interest in promoting sales of consumables. Having won the debate over 4-2-2 by focusing on road safety strategies and the role of the MOT within them, the average vehicle presenter is now much more likely to appreciate that at £54 he is getting good value for money, in addition to peace of mind. Why then do we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by getting involved in what amounts to no more than a ‘Dutch Auction’?

IBM Devices
Those of you who thought IBM meant Its Bloody Marvellous have now had a rude awakening! Though marginally quicker changing between screens, in practice these new VTS Devices are no more efficient than the old ones as they still use the outdated ‘dial up’ process to connect to the server. Whilst the problems associated with establishing ‘secure’ broadband connections remain, some of us are left to endure the beurocracy/ misery of Emergency Testing on a regular basis! It has been three years since the introduction of Stand Alone Testing but we have yet to hear of a single occasion when it has ‘kicked in’ successfully. We were told that this system would bring an end to E.T. as it did not rely on dial up. In practice the opposite is true with E.T.now becoming the ‘norm’ and both VOSA and Siemens blaming the phone line operators for the failure of S.A.T! A cynic might ask ‘why invest in new computers when the problem lies in the connectivity’, but if you consider VOSA’s increased reliance on reports, statistics, electronic messaging etc. in order to ‘police’ the scheme, you may find that the increased capacity of these machines favour them more than us!

A Risky Business?
Despite universal opposition to VOSA.s enforcement targeting of what they perceive to be ‘risky’ MOT stations, we can reveal that they have no plans to change the band ratings i.e. the worst 10% will remain in Red, 28% in Amber with the remainder in Green despite a marked improvement across the board! Our suggestion that continued improvement should reduce the numbers of ‘high risk’ stations met with a frosty responce from VOSA’s Ian Bartlett, Head of the scheme who clearly believes his approach to enforcement is the correct use of resources. However, in a recent interview with Jim Punter Editor of AEMOT magazine, he indicated that he is prepared to revise the risk assessment itens by repositioning the emphasis on the peripheries such as toilet cleanliness to that of vehicle testing – hoorah! The words ‘commonsense and VOSA’ don’t always sit comfortably together, but if this is true, they are to be applauded.

Quality Assured!
In response to the above we have been working on a Quality Assurance programme based on Vosa’s Best Practice Guide which was issued last year. We are pleased to announce that this programme is now available to member stations at no extra cost and will be implemented on your next site visit. The programme is designed to address all of the issues you are likely to encounter during your next vosa assessment visit and either get you into or keep you within the ‘green’ sector of the so called ‘traffic light’ scheme. Response from members has been extremely positive with some ‘high risk’ stations becoming ‘green’ as a result.

Feasable fees?
The past year has seen the worsening recession take a stranglehold on many businesses; however, economic downturns have historically favoured the Mot business, as unlike other garage services, the annual Mot cannot be postponed! It is surprising then that some Mot stations are continuing to offer substantial discounts on the recommended fee of £53.10. This fee in our opinion still represents good value for money when you consider the investment required to establish, maintain and operate an Mot station to the exacting standards now required by VOSA. If you were testing at the national average level of six vehicles per day, the £330 take would in most cases represent less than the hourly labour rates for servicing work! With the threat of 4-2-2 now removed, it is time for the DfT to make a stand against other European laws (eg the European Competitions Directive), which enable discounting to continue with impunity.

Corrosion assessment
Since the introduction of modern vehicle production methods / materials and panel protection processes such as galvanising, the expression ‘terminal tin-worm’ is rapidly disappearing from the vocabulary of the average Mot tester. Indeed, the horror stories from the past (who remembers welding the ‘trumpets’ on the Austin/Morris 1100?) are now a welcome distant memory! It is understandable then, that when it comes to corrosion assessment some of you may be a little ‘rusty’ - pun intended! For instance, are you aware that if a single area of corrosion encompasses more than one prescribed area, the VT30 must reflect this, and that any omissions may attract 30 penalty points each! We are in the process of producing a laminated corrosion assessment ‘aide memoir’ which will be with you shortly. Meanwhile a viewing of VOSA’s corrosion assessment DVD would not go amiss, if only to see the brilliant Tom Callaghan in action once again – happy retirement Tom, hope you get the royalties!

Good advise?
Since the introduction of Mot Computerisation, advisories have shown a marked increase. This welcome development is largely due to the ease in which a VT32 can now be produced via the VTS device, and can only serve to improve the service to our customers, particularly when buying from traders. Though not a legal document, the issue of a VT32 can serve to reduce the ‘points’ allocated to a NT in any contemplated disciplinary action by VOSA, and as such has come to be regarded by some as an insurance policy! Whilst we applaud the APF (arse protection factor!) a VT32 can offer, and appreciate the ‘buffer’ effect this may have in a disciplinary situation, we feel that blanket use of this facility can only diminish its effectiveness in the eyes of the public. The advisory was introduced in order to advise customers of Mot related items the tester considered to be: -

1. A borderline pass - eg. Tyre tread depths of 2mm or less.
2. Items not covered by the MOT in need of attention - eg. Corroded metal fuel lines.
3. Items, which could not be fully inspected - eg. Sills obscured by plastic covers.

When used as intended the VT32 can give your customer a useful insight into items, which may affect their vehicles in the near future. However, as with the Mot itself, the tester must temper his skill and judgement with a liberal quantity of common sense! Our inspectors are reporting more and more incidents of VT32s issued to newer vehicles merely so that the NT may cover his back, or on a more sinister note, to generate extra repair work which in extreme cases may lead to a charge of bringing the MOT scheme into disrepute. Like the little boy who cried ‘wolf’, a NT who continues to issue unwarranted advise is more likely to attract the scrutiny of VOSA than those who don’t advise at all!

Bonnet catches
Like many of you we have been watching with interest the BBC ‘Watchdog’ investigation into the bonnet catches of Renault Clio’s. These catches have been failing with the vehicles in motion, causing the bonnet to fly open with obvious devastating consequences! Having inspected many of these vehicles over the past year, our consultants have reported a problem with the secondary bonnet catches. The safety catches fitted to this model have two hinges which seize in the unlatched position due to lack of maintenance. The secondary bonnet catch is of course intended to be a ‘failsafe’ in the event of failure of the main catch. It is quite clear that the bonnet would not be able to fly open if this ‘failsafe’ device was working properly. Incredibly, unlike the main bonnet catch, these devices are not covered by the MOT, though they should certainly be advised! This is just one item (there are many others) which we feel warrants inclusion into the Mot test and we shall be voicing our concerns over this and other issues when we meet with VOSA officials next year.

Tyres
Recent research has shown that under-inflated tyres cause 6% of all car accidents. This comes as no surprise, given the state of some of the vehicles presented for MOT, yet once again there is no specific reason for rejection. You may of course inflate the offending tyre/tyres prior to the test if spotted during the pre-check routine (you know, that thing we all do before logging on!), or fail the vehicle on un-tested brakes. When you consider the motoring public’s perception that ‘if it’s not in the Mot it is’nt important’, this is an item which should be included, with (as in the case of headlamp adjustment) the ability to rectify the problem during the test.

Dr Who?
Continuing the miss-information theme, an article by ‘Doctor Dave’ published in Mot Workshop magazine inferred that the issue of a VT30 following the examination of a vehicle presented early for test, would invalidate an existing VT20.In fairness to Dr Dave this is a popular misconception, held by many nominated testers, but none the less untrue! We are grateful however for the opportunity to set the record straight. Since the introduction of Mot Computerisation almost four years ago, the VT20 ‘pass’ certificate has represented nothing more than a receipt for the Mot with the legal bit being the electronic record held on the central computer database. Once issued this electronic record cannot be altered by anyone, not even VOSA, which is why following a successful VT19i (inverted appeal) they are not able to rescind the VT20 issued to the offending vehicle! Similarly, the Police are unable to reverse a VT20 following the issue of a PG9 (vehicle prohibition order) although Mot stations are still asked to confirm that the defects have been rectified. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this however is the realisation that a VT20 issued in error by a NT cannot, as in the past, simply be cancelled in favour of a VT30! It is therefore, imperative that testers take extra care when imputing pass/fail criteria on the VTS Device as the effects of any mistake will last at least 12 months, and may cost him his job!