The government has decided not to go ahead with plans that would require cars to have an MOT inspection only once every two years. The plans were proposed in 2011.
Which? expressed its objection to the idea – first floated by then Transport Secretary Philip Hammond in April last year – on the grounds that the safety of cars on UK roads would be adversely affected.
In a statement today, the current Transport Secretary, Justine Greening said:
‘Our garages are crucial to ensuring that Britain’s roads continue to be among the safest in the world. Most are doing good work but the latest data shows that there is room for improvement.’
Which? welcomes the move and in a statement responding to the announcement Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:
‘It’s good news that the government is scrapping plans to make MOTs every two years, as this would have certainly lead to a reduction in the safety of UK cars. Which? believes that servicing cars less regularly could mean faults would go undetected for twice as long before being found.
‘But our undercover investigations have revealed poor practice across the sector, even from garages that were members of a code of practice. So beyond extending the codes, it’s crucial that they are enforced and mystery shopping is ramped up to improve standards.’
Garage standards still not good enough
In support of its decision, the government cited Department for Transport data from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), showing that more than a quarter (27.7%) of vehicles tested in 2010-2011 had one or more defects that were either missed by MOT test centres or incorrectly assessed.
The VOSA data also showed that the roadworthiness of more than one-in-eight cars (13%) was being incorrectly assessed by MOT test centres.
This tallies with Which? findings from its last investigation into servicing standards where it found the whole sector left consumers wanting. The undercover research sent mystery shoppers into 62 garages, including those affiliated to codes of practice and those not.
Which? said at the time that the schemes it tested, including Motor Codes and Bosch, offered slightly better service than the garages not following a code of practice.
But it also said there was a long way to go. Almost all the garages the mystery shoppers visited failed to fix basic faults – which should have been possible if the staff were properly trained and the appropriate processes were being used. Which? strongly believes this level of failure is unacceptable.
The government statement listed a range of areas where it hopes to work with industry and consumers to try to improve things. It remains to be seen whether these will make a significant difference.
Which? Motoring expert David Evans said:
‘Which? has investigated the industry several times over the years and it has always been found wanting. In my view the introduction of properly policed, enforceable standards, (ideally including mystery shopping), potentially offered by a good code of practice (but as yet not witnessed during our investigations) could turn the industry around.
‘I would really love to see improvements but, as things stand, our best recommendation is to check out our guide to finding a good garage, ask a friend or better still, if you’re a Which? member, you can look for the recommendations on Which? Local where there are over 10,000 garages recommended by other Which? members.
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