Fake MOT Scams and How to avoid them
Here at R&L Motors we may not specialise in doing the MOT itself, but we do carry out the MOT repairs, for when a MOT centre has asked for a price too high, or you feel that you have been scammed. If you feel like you have been scammed by an MOT Centre, then please call in your vehicle to us and we’ll check everything for you. However, if you want to avoid the scam altogether, then this article is exactly what you’re looking for.
The following is a list of just some of the criminal practices that have been recorded in association with the MOT trade. If you are getting your car MOT’d or you are buying a car then check them out to ensure you are not caught out, as this could end up causing you a hefty price tag on unnecessary repairs.
By far the most common deception is the practice of failing items on the test when they are perfectly okay, this is known by almost everybody and choosing a trustworthy MOT Centre these days can be quite hard!
It is very easy for a disreputable testing station to quickly replace a headlamp bulb with a non-working one, or damage a wiper blade or change the adjustment of the headlights. An experienced mechanic can do these things in seconds and then they will try and tell you that the part hasn’t been working for ages, just to get a few hundred out of your pocket, obviously this is illegal, but many get away with it.
More serious offenses can even include things such as slitting CV gaiters, tampering with catalytic convertors and falsely reporting brake or emissions tests. If a testing station fits tyres then look out for mysteriously appearing cuts or damage to the side walls of tyres. A disreputable MOT Centre will try at least one thing during each MOT test that they carry out, take photo’s and take notice of what works and what doesn’t before leaving your vehicle with them as this will be your only leg to stand on when they try and tell you something is broken, when you know it was working before you brought it in. It’s not just shady looking garages who do this either, large national garages are also known for doing things like this, like Kwik-Fit for instance:
Not Performing the Test Properly (or at all) – Now we are dealing with outright criminality.
There are numerous examples of ‘bargain’ MOT testing stations charging incredibly low prices for MOTs and then not performing the test at all. In some cases the tests will be rushed, sometimes the car will go in and out of the garage without anything being done and it’s not unknown for cars to pass the MOT without even moving into the garage. There is however an easy way to avoid this, place something near your vehicles wheel (so it’s not quite wedged, but so that it won’t move and will only be crushed with the car moves, like an empty can of Coke or an empty plastic bottle, then if the item is crushed, you know your vehicle has actually entered the garage, if not, don’t pay. A small, hidden camera in your vehicle can even make sure the garage team actually does something, instead of parking it into their garage and just leaving it there for an hour or two without touching it.
You may ask why you would care as long as you get your pass but given that the MOT is concerned with ensuring your vehicle meets basic safety criteria you would be mad to not want it done properly. Especially if you have children in your car, you would be putting them at risk during every journey, even if it is just a school run!
In addition to the issue of your safety, if the garage is caught it may be that past certificates it has issued will be considered void in which case you could be unknowingly driving a vehicle whose insurance would be void. This, in turn, would be illegal and could result in points, and or a fine and even imprisonment. Obviously, if you keep track of your records and make notes of things that are working/not working will help you fight this as it isn’t your fault at all!
Why take the chance? Cameras Catch MOT Fraud
Fake Certificates – Possibly the worse of the MOT frauds is the issuing of fake ‘certificates’.
In reality since the system changed (in 2011) you no longer receive a real certificate from the testing station. What you get is a piece of paper (a VT20 pass or VT30 fail) that you can supposedly use as proof that the MOT has been done. This means that disreputable MOT Centres can easily fake these as they can be done by using things as simple as Microsoft Word and they take no skill to fake.
The problem is that this ‘piece of paper’ is just that. It is ridiculously easy to fake and anyone with a computer and the most basic of word processing skills can do it. If you have been given one of these recently (even if you think its real) check the Government’s MOT Checker website as this will tell you if your MOT was real or fake.
The actual ‘certificate’ is now recorded online on a government website and you can check your vehicles status yourself. While this fraud is not that common in testing stations themselves it is something to be aware of when buying a car. Never trust the paper ‘certificate’ the owner provides you. Instead get the vehicles identification number, the test number from the VT20 (pass) or VT30 (fail) and use the government MOT checker to verify it is real (found here: MOT Checker). If you don’t carry out these simple checks, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble for something that is completely not your fault, although if you do keep records etc. then these could be used as evidence if you are ever taken to court/prosecuted over it.
What Can I Do To Avoid Being Ripped Off?
Use an ‘MOT Only’ testing station – Any testing station that only does the MOT and does not offer any kind of repair service has no incentive to rip you off by unfairly failing your vehicle and are therefore extremely unlikely to do so. After all there is nothing in it for them so why would they? Although if your vehicle does fail its test in one of these testing centres, then you can always bring your vehicle into our garage, you can be sure you won’t find a better service at a lower price than ours in the Widnes area!
Do the Simple Checks before you take your Vehicle for Its MOT
Performing the simple checks that anyone can do will reduce the chances of being ripped off considerably. The items that unscrupulous testing stations will attempt to con you on are for the most part the simplest items to check. Dodgy testing stations don’t want to fail your vehicle on complex items that will take time and effort to fix as there is more incentive for you to search out a main dealer or specialist. The things you need to look out for are Wipers (make sure they work before bringing your car in), Tyres (check for nails in the tyres themselves and tears/damages to the wheels themselves before bringing it in) and other simple little things like this are exactly what these dodgy MOT Centres mess with to milk more money out of you.
The crooks will mainly fail small items that are quick and easy to fix and that will only require parts available from the local auto factors. These items will take them minutes to fix and the parts will only cost a few quid but they will charge you a huge mark ups. Easy money for them! If you feel you’re being ripped off, bring your vehicle in and we can promise you that you’ll be paying less!
How Can I Tell What’s Going On?
All MOT Testing centres must have a viewing area. It’s part of their license to operate that they have one. If you are unsure about the testing station and want to see what is going on with your vehicle then ask to be shown the viewing area. If they don’t have one or they make some silly excuse up, then leave!
How Do I Know They Did the Test?
As you no longer get an MOT certificate as proof of your vehicles MOT status (just an easily forged printout) the government has a website that allows you to check the MOT status of any vehicle. To check the MOT status of your vehicle or one you are considering buying then use the governments MOT Checker. This is the easiest and quickest way for you to find out if the vehicle you own/looking to buy actually has passed its MOT and that it’s safe to be on the roads.
If you found this article helpful, then please keep checking our News page as new articles are added quite regularly. Alternatively if you are in need of MOT Repairs in Widnes due to a MOT Centre trying to scam you for extra money, or you would just like some more information on our services, then please don’t hesitate to contact us and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly