61 Ford Consul

One of our regular visitors for mot is this customised 61 Ford Consul

This particular vehicle never presents a problem on test as, although modified, the modifications have all been carried out to a high standard.

The vehicle is also well maintained and on the test ramp the underside is very clean so any problems will be visible.


Dangerous to drive

It is not often that I feel the need to highlight something on the VT30 failure notice as being dangerous to drive, just recently I have had to use it for brakes and suspension faults. The first case being a pair of rear  leaf springs on a Ford Transit which had fractured at the anchor end spring eye, the only thing holding the spring in place being the weight of the vehicle bearing on the spring eye.


The spring can clearly be seen, from the rust “witness marks” to have worn away at the anchor bracket where it has been moving sideways.

leafspringAnother pair of items to crop up under the dangerous to drive tag was a a pair of front brake hoses on a Ford Maverick these had deteriorated so badly that the braided innards of the hoses were clearly visible













Earlier in the day a customer had brought us a Mercedes ML320 with a pad warning light on, and asked us to replace the front brake pads as he’d done the rears, or friend had, to save some cash.  Once we’d removed the wheels to replace the front pads we knew they were not the reason for the warning light being illuminated, so we turned to the rears to check the wear sensor wire, immediately noticeable was  the thread of a brake caliper bolt and therefore the lower end of the caliper was not secured and had broken the sensor wire, thus causing the light to come on.


Had this been the upper caliper bolt it is quite possible that if the caliper had been caught by the wheel rim it would have caused serious damage to the wheel, the caliper and the caliper bracket, with the wheel quite possibly locking up .


Incidents like these are rare but unfortunately they do happen, which is why we have Mot’s, no matter how a good a mechanic you are, or think you are, another pair of eyes checking the work afterwards can be an extra safeguard for vehicles on our busy roads.

Airbag lights

Since 20th march the airbag/srs light indicating a fault is a reason for rejection, however if the light doesn’t illuminate it’s only an advisory item, very odd.

However we had an 02 Renault Clio in for an Mot with the airbag light lit up. The presenter a little bit peeved when told it is a fail as it has been like it for the last 2 mots and never been a problem before.

I think he was visualising a huge bill for airbag replacement, we’ve all heard stories of figures of £500+ for an airbag being replaced. However such a bill wasn’t necessary, once the diagnostic scanner was connected the fault was identified as being the drivers side sensor short circuited. When peering under the drivers seat it was noted the carpet was wet, once the sensor was located and looked at with a light there was an obvious rust stain on the side of the sensor.

A replacement sensor had to be ordered from france, took about a week but it only cost approx £31 plus diagnostic and fitting to put the airbag light out. A lot better than £500.


Old sensor removed from it’s original location attached to the sill.

The cause of the wet floor was established as the sunroof drain tubes blocked, these were blown through to clear them, a wet vac and valet recommended to dry out the floor mats, and to keep a check on the wetness of the floor mats and to return if dampness builds up again

Dangerous tyres once again.

I’m often amazed at the lack of awareness of some drivers.  A Peugeot 307  brought in for mot had an obviously noisy exhaust blow,  the vehicle presenter was surprised when the boss said it was unlikely to pass the test with it blowing as it was.  However we  proceeded to carry out the Mot, before it had even been logged onto the system it was obviously going to be one of those vehicles, just a quick glance before getting into the drivers seat and it was labelled as dangerous to drive.
delaminated-tyre It started poorly and then went from bad to worse, as a glance at the 2 page vt30 shows

The front suspension arm bushes very badly worn and knocking, a rear brake binding, front brakes pulling severely to the right (into the path of oncoming traffic). Never before have I had to issue a VT30 with more than a couple of “dangerous to drive”   items.  Just manoeuvring the vehicle on our forecourt was enough to frighten me, clunking from the suspension, dragging from a rear wheel and then seeing the presence of a child seat in the car was a little worrying too.

Bushes, suspension and steering

Rubber bushes are used nowadays on the majority of vehicles to isolate and dampen road noise whilst at the same time allowing suspension and steering components some flexibility and movement.

Problems begin when the bushes deteriorate or become unbonded, when this happens the suspension component is no longer retained in its correct position, excessive movement occurs and noise increases.

The above are all examples from the front suspension, the rear suspension can also have rubber bushes and mountings, again when the bush deteriorates excessive movement and noise occurs. Laguna-rear- subframe

The above image is that of a Laguna rear arm mounting bush.

Also subject to checking for excessive movement  are the rubber bushes that steering racks can be mounted with, again the criteria when being checked is is there excessive movement or is the component insecure. The image below is of a pair of new steering rack mounting bushes beside a pair of worn bushes, two pairs are needed to mount the rack in this case a 54 reg mercedes c class.c-class_steering

In the above case the steering rack was moving enough to cause the ESP light to illuminate and for the ECU to limit the power produced by the engine.

Since the 20th of this month the ESP light being illuminated is a reason for rejection (failure)

Mot Changes

The changes to the mot caused by the implementation of EU directive 2010/48/EU finally go live on 20th March 2013. These are

For Class 4, 5 and 7 vehicles:
 Headlamp levelling and cleaning devices when fitted for HID or LED headlamps
 Main beam ‘tell-tale’ warning

 Battery (including batteries for electric or hybrid vehicles)
 Electrical wiring and connectors
 Trailer electrical socket security and damage
 Operation of 13-pin trailer electrical sockets using an approved trailer socket tester
 Operation of the steering lock (where fitted) including a malfunction warning in
respect of an electronic steering lock
 Electronic power steering malfunction indicator lamp
 Electronic parking brake control and malfunction indicator lamp
 Electronic Stability Control (ESC) components, including the switch (if fitted) and
malfunction warning
 Brake fluid warning lamp illuminated or inoperative
 Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
 SRS components including airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, seat belt load limiters
and SRS malfunction warning lamp
 Engine mountings
 Speedometer
 Indirect vision devices (where they replace obligatory mirrors )

I don’t think it will increase my workload by a great deal as most of the items will be noticed when carrying out other checks anyway, it will just be a case of noting them down officially now.

The AA have a page listing the changes in greater detail.

There is also interesting reading at uk paig.org

Brake pipes and hoses

A slide show of various brake pipes and hoses found on vehicles for test, in the  case of the leaking brake pipes,  the fiesta rear began leaking on test and the other (astra o/s) fractured and leaked as it was prised out of its support clip prior to repair.

Some more on corrosion

This week we have had a Wreg Ford Ka, not a bad example of it’s species, no real problems except for some corrosion to the seat mounting area.

The underseal had cracked around the seat mount, asking my assistant in the car to move around on the seat revealed flexing of the floor at this point, removing a thumbnail flake of underseal revealed a small pinhole in the floor.

When carrying out the repair however, what appeared to be a small repair became a lot worse as removing the seat and carpet in the area revealed a large area of fibreglass smoothed to look like seam sealer and painted to match the rest of the floor.

The extent of the repair needed

I previously mot’d the vehicle last year and only mechanical problems were found, I obviously missed the fibreglass underneath the seat mount and carpet, and no problems were visible in this area when checking the underside from underneath the vehicle. we haven’t seen this vehicle except for these 2 mots but the owner is not mechanically minded so unlikely to have made this fibreglass repair. The previous owner had sold it on with 3 mths left on the mot, for the time and artistic effort involved, at that stage it would probably have been cheaper to have it welded up properly.

Suspension Components

A number of suspension component failures have cropped up recently, beginning with a Nissan Micra 09 reg rear shock absorber, the wording of the Rfr is “serious fluid leak”. As can be seen in the image the dirt and dust on the whole shock absorber body and lower bush area has a damp wet look whilst the other components in the vicinity have a uniform dry dusty look to them, a sure sign the fluid is coming from the shock.

Surprisingly Nissan claim that this is fair wear and tear, so their 3 yr warranty doesn’t apply to this item. On an under 3yrs and under 24,000 ml vehicle ??

We also had a VW  Passat with a split cv boot for repair, the owner of the vehicle had looked under the vehicle and hadn’t been able to see the split, I took this image during the repair, because on these vehicles it is difficult to see the split in situ.

A customer brought in a 02 Renault Laguna complaining of a rubbing sound and smell of burning rubber, we put the vehicle on the ramp, and a quick look revealed the source of the noise and smell. The darker black ring is caused by the spring rubbing on the tyre.

A broken coil spring rubbing on the inside sidewall of the tyre and also touching the wheel rim.

The polished area of the spring is where it was rubbing on the tyre,

As a matter of course we also checked on the other side of the same axle and this revealed a crack in the base of the other coil spring, not easily seen, as the lower end of the spring is encased in a rubber sleeve, however the broken section moved easily when wiggled by hand and is slightly out of position.

A final coil spring on the rear of a Peugeot 207, 07 reg, the rubber spring seat out of position a sure sign that the lower section of coil is missing.

This weeks crop

Several items of interest this week, the first is regarding seat belts and their associated mountings.

When a seat belt is attached to the seat, then the seat mountings are checked for security and corrosion in the surrounding area.

On checking a seat on a Ford Ka it was noted that the seat seemed to move a little more than normal when rocked lightly. As the mat above the seat mount was easily lifted, then a further check was simple and disclosed the securing bolt sat beside the seat bracket.

The vehicle presenter had no idea that there was a problem. The vehicle had been regularly serviced by the main dealer and as far as she was aware the seat had never been removed.

The second item concerns standards of corrosion repairs.

A Nissan micra in for MoT had previously had a repair to the rear sill because of corrosion, looking at the repair from outside the vehicle there were signs of welding with a thin skim of body filler and paint to tidy the repair up. The repair felt sound and didn’t “give” under thumb pressure.

Inspection from underneath revealed however that the bottom edge of the patch had had no weld applied at all. The testing standard for patch repairs requires that the repair should be seam welded along every edge.

The third item comes from a vehicle we had in for repair as the brakes felt spongey and was losing brake fluid. On inspection it was immediately obvious a rear brake hose was bulging, we’d had no need to apply pressure to see the problem.

The inner core ofthe hose had deteriorated and was allowing fluid to seep under the outer rubber covering, had it been on a front brake the outer covering would probably have split and caused a serious brake balance problem.

This second image shows how badly the outer covering had stretched when the fluid had seeped into it.

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