Tag Archive | "MOT"

MOT – No Nasty Surprises

Once a car passes the age of three years it moves into the realm of the dreaded MOT. With the complexity of modern cars this can be a worry but now, thanks to a new campaign, motorists can at least be forewarned by completing a simple series of checks on their own vehicles. Obviously, inspecting a car won’t effect a miracle cure but it does mean that used car owners won’t waste time and additional money on unexpected MOT failures.

The scheme called ‘Minute-or-Two’ is supported by over five thousand main dealers around the country. Their technicians will be happy to advise any customers who are unsure of how to make the checks themselves. The list of checks is straightforward and means that owners can talk to their dealers about individual problems that can be rectified in advance and help prevent that heart-sinking feeling when the fail certificate is handed over. These are the points to watch:

Roping in a friend or family member, make sure all headlights, sidelights, reversing and brake lights and the indicators are all functioning as they should. Don’t forget the number plate light. That’s a very simple home-fix which, if missed, could mean a failure. Plates, incidentally should be clean, legible and conform to the standard.

The importance of sound wheels and tyres shouldn’t be underestimated. Tyres should have at least 1.6mm of tread across their width (ideally, the sensible driver changes them at 3mm) and they should be undamaged in other ways – from kerbs for example. Your dealer will be happy to check these for you.

Seats should have all the forward and backward movement they came with and be firmly in position. Seat belts must be tip-top and functioning correctly. The way to check this is by giving them a hearty tug to ensure they will lock up in the event of a collision.

These days windscreens come under close scrutiny. Any damage (a stone chip for example) anywhere that is greater than 40mm will be a fail and in the ‘swept’ area that figure drops to 10mm. This is a tricky one to assess by eye. Again your dealer should be prepared to advise FOC. Ditto the wipers: they should be in good nick and clean the area fully. Remember, top up the washer bottle before the test.

Always ensure the car has enough fuel for road-testing and, of course, fluid and oil levels should be maintained at the correct level. A low brake fluid level for instance could signify a bigger problem. Finally, check the horn for correct function. To make the task a bit less onerous, try testing it when your ‘check-assistant’ is least expecting it. How they’ll laugh!

Follow theses checks and avoid nasty surprises come MOT time. It’s good that dealers are participating too. Clearly, it’s in their interests but at least they are helping with your safety and may well save you money in the long run.

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More MOT Pain To Come

As if things weren’t bad enough for UK motorists, yesterday saw the arrival of new MOT rules. To be fair to our own Ministry for Transport, all they are doing is implementing changes to bring us in line with the latest Euro-rules. Politicians across Europe feel they must be seen to be doing something about road safety so they are constantly thinking up new ideas, although sometimes we could wish that they might be tempered with a little bit of common sense.

Nevertheless, here we are. Manufacturers are partly to blame as cars have become increasingly complex. Sophisticated new systems and gadgets are added whether we want them or not. Many of these now fall under the new MOT rules. The downside is that many motorists could face hefty bills as more and more cars fail.

Warning lights are a case in point. There is no doubt that there are many vehicles out there with a little light twinkling away on the display. The car may well be running fine but that’s not the point. The term ‘warning light’ signifies a problem – now it means a potential failure. It could for example mean an airbag issue which may not be of immediate concern because you have no intention of having a shunt. Too bad.

The cars of today have computers and much complex technology on board. For the most part it is there for a reason, although some will argue that a lot of it is superfluous. The trouble is that the current MOT rules have been around for twenty years now and it stands to reason that they are in need of updating. Unfortunately, financially crippled drivers are hanging on to their cars for much longer. The older the car the more likely it is to have faults.

If your car has tyre pressure monitoring – compulsory on any car since January 2012 – then this will be checked. The movement of car seats back and forth will be tested to ensure compliance and if the seat has electric power then that too comes under the rules. Can you imagine the potential cost of fixing a powered seat – something that drivers have never needed?

Even if the seatbelt is actually about your person but the little light stays on – fail. Brake fluid a bit low? Fail. Car doors must open and close properly and the warning light extinguished; all the dials, catalytic converters, stability controls and so on all come under examination. You have been warned.

In some parts of Europe, testing doesn’t start until four years after first registration and some countries allow two years between tests. Our government are resisting this and will stick with the three year / twelve month rule for now. Now that is something you can blame them for.

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Take Care With Car Repairs

As cars have become more technically advanced, so they have become increasingly complicated. Whilst under warranty any faults are usually someone else’s problem but when the three year limit arrives car owners are basically on their own.

It seems that on an almost yearly basis new regulations are added to MOT examinations. A simple warning light that historically may well have been ignored is now potentially a prelude to a large bill. Once upon a time drivers would by and large make their own repairs but these days – unless you are very skilled – it is probably out of the question.

Regular servicing is key to avoiding the pitfalls of parts failure and irritating breakdowns. To avoid or extend service intervals may seem like an economy but will you can be sure cost in the long run. This is why it is important to leave the work to experts in automotive repair. These days professional garages have the necessary diagnostic equipment to seek out what ails an automobile. Wherever you live there’s sure to be a listing simply by doing a search for, say, ‘MOT Croydon’ or similar, to suit your needs.

A good independent garage will have knowledge of all the major motor brands and will probably offer rates significantly better than a main dealer. They may also be able to source guaranteed car parts at a lower price. In fact, even if your car is under three years old a garage unconnected to any specific manufacturer will be able to meet all servicing needs without affecting any future warranty claims.

The same goes for accident damage. Once the initial shock has worn off the search begins again for the right people for the job. Once again, reaching for the trusty computer it is a simple matter to search for car body repairs in Croydon or anywhere else. With the cost of car insurance the sensible driver will be looking for a very good deal on car repairs. As before, your local independent can usually sort out accident repairs, alloy wheel repairs, paintwork and most other forms of bodywork damage.

When searching, look for a website that looks as if the owners care about how they are perceived. A reputable family run business that caters for MOTs, servicing and repairs will have testimonials available coupled with all the information needed to make an informed choice.

The sad fact is that we all, at some point or another, will drop a wheel down into a pothole or slip on black ice and require the services of professional mechanics. The important thing is to choose wisely. It may cost you some money but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

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Saving Money On Servicing

Servicing is very important to keeping your car running efficiently and in preventing breakdowns.  It can also help you achieve a higher resale price when you finally come to selling your car and can mean that you shift your car a lot quicker.  More and more often, buyers will simply ignore and completely ignore any car that doesn’t have a service history, making it practically impossible to sell.

The costs of servicing can add up though.  MOT’s, full services, part services and then the costs of fixing anything that has gone wrong can all add up to some really significant sums.  There are a few ways of minimising these costs though.

The first thing to do is to try and time your MOT and servicing so that they are due at the same time.  Many garages will offer a discount when you combine your MOT and service and have them both done at the same time.  The reason is simple – When they conduct an MOT they are already getting involved in your car and checking the essentials.  This crosses over with a lot of the stuff that they will check out in a service and therefore they can afford to charge you less as it is quicker and easier for them to do both at the same time.  If you don’t make use of this discount you are effectively paying for your brakes to be checked on your MOT and then paying for them to be checked again on your service.  So, try to get them both done together at a discount.

The second thing is to use a specialist.  Using main dealers can be extremely expensive and see huge hourly rates.  Using a specialist can knock as much as 50% off these prices and sometimes even more.  The irony is that most specialists originally worked at the main dealers and then moved on to start their own business.  This effectively means that you are paying someone who is just as qualified and experienced on your car as the main dealer but at a fraction of the price.  They will also often make a smaller mark up on parts as well which can save even more money.

The most important tip for saving money on servicing though is to not avoid a service!  Some people think the best way to save money is to simply ignore a service and just keep driving.  This can actually prove to be the most expensive decision of all because missing a service can mean that you miss detecting small problems before they grow into big problems that can cost serious money!

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