Car garages are already using the changes to the way the MOT works to ‘hold motorists to ransom’, according to vehicle ownership and maintenance expert, MotorEasy.

Under the new Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) rules, faults found during an MOT are classified as either dangerous, major or minor, with official guidance suggesting that major faults should be repaired immediately and that cars with dangerous faults should not be driven at all until the problem has been fixed.

This could mean that some motorists who don’t fully understand their rights may feel trapped into getting repairs done at the workshop where the MOT was carried out, with this also used as leverage by garages to charge over the odds.

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.”

Previously, MotorEasy advised its customers to book MOTs early so that they had time to shop around for any work necessary before their road tax expired. But the interpretation of the new rules make it more difficult to take advantage of this.

The DVSA’s MOT Service Manager, Neil Barlow, said: “DVSA’s priority is to help you keep your vehicle safe to drive.

“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.

“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.”

MotorEasy says that, although the changes to the MOT only came into effect on May 20, it has seen customers who have already been caught out.

Rob, from Watford, 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, Clydebank Ford Mondeo owner, Donald, 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 said.

Both drivers said they were made to feel that they could not take the car from the garage and had to borrow money in order to pay the bills.
Around 40% of cars fail their MOT every year, with repairs needed to pass costing an average cost of £174.

MotorEasy offers a Do-It-For-Me MOT service that includes free collection and delivery to their network of vetted workshops. In a hassle-free approach to the new rules, MotorEasy technicians remotely monitor all the jobs, and intervene where needed to stop garages over charging, or forcing customers to take repairs when they shouldn’t.