Matters of Testing 54

The July issue of “Matters of Testing ” no54  is available to download from


It contains information on forthcoming changes to the mot certificate, the horror stories are always worth a read too.


Illegal tyres and penalties

This week we had a vehicle in with the tyre below fitted, before commencng the test it was noticed that the tyre was underinflated and had a split in it.

A view of the tread pattern shows severe wear at both edges of the tyre usually a sign that the tyre is being run underinflated

Normally the tread covers the whole tyre width as the image below shows along with the position of wear indicator bars

Also on the vehicle was a bald rear tyre.

We’d previously had the vehicle in 3 months ago for other work and had advised the owner about the 2 tyres and that he needed to rectify the problem before they got worse.

Had he been stopped by the police for a routine check he could have been facing a fine up to £2500 and 3 points on his licence for each tyre, quite apart from the risk with his and other peoples lives he was running.
For tyre advice a number of links are below

Corroded brake discs.

I’ve made several posts regarding corroded brake discs and what is an acceptable level of corrosion.

The description of reason for rejection rgarding disc condition is worded

“a brake disc or drum in such a condition that it is seriously weakened or insecure”

The first example shown below was seen on a 2003 astra rear, in this case the surface of the disc although corroded has not penetrated into the disc so that it is likely to break or crack, the brake performance however showed a slightly different story in that the performance suffered badly enough to affect the rate of application and to cause serious judder.

The following images are from a 2004 Renault Megane Scenic brought in for repair, the customer had heard a bang as she applied the brakes.

As can be seen from the below image, the brake pad is missing, the bang heard was the brake pad “escaping” from the pad carrier.

Once the repair was started the full extent of the problem was revealed, once the disc was removed the inner face of the disc was very severely corroded, and the inner brake pad was metal to metal, or in this example metal to corrosion, it appears the friction material had broken away on the inner pad too. In the image below we’re seeing the face of the pad that should have 1.5mm of friction material, and also can be seen is the way the surface of the disc has been flaking away.

I don’t know how long the brakes have been in this condition but I would have expected a grinding noise to be noticeable for a while beforehand.

Coil springs again.

Even vehicles designed for off road use are not immune to the problem of broken coil springs, such as this one found on a Landrover. This particular vehicle doesn’t get much in the way of off road use, the occasional trip across a muddy caravan/camping site, but nothing in the way of serious off road use.

A follow on from my post regarding classic vehicles becoming exempt from Mot tests, it’s understandable when vehicles like this consul come in for test. The owner has owned it since the 1970’s when it was his engineering college project.

As such it gets very little road use and plenty of care and attention before venturing onto the road.
The underside was as immaculate as this engine bay

It’s always a pleasure to test vehicles like these and to chat to the owners and learn some of the history of the vehicle.

Witness marks

Often when conducting an mot I notice something before I begin to concentrate specifically on a set  of components.

Such an item were the presence of these polished spots on the subframe and driveshaft on a VW Polo as an indication or “witness” that something was amiss.

polished spots on driveshaft and subframe

Further investigation by looking at the driveshaft revealed that it was bent as you can see in the image above.  However the full extent of the distortion and runout is best shown in the following video.

Hearing the constant knocking from this area once in the roller brake tester made me question the hearing, common sense and sanity of the driver !

Classic vehicles to be exempt.

From 18th November 2012 owners of classic vehicles will no longer need to have their vehicles subjected to an Mot.

DfT Press release

An interesting statistic from that release

Pre-1960 licensed vehicles make up about 0.6% of the total number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain, but are involved in just 0.03% of road casualties and accidents.


“Owners of classic vehicles will still be legally required to ensure that they are safe and in a proper condition to be on the road

The owners of the classic vehicles that  I see, generally expect their vehicles to pass, but do like to have a second opinion on a “just in case I’ve missed something”  basis.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

As above please, we’re only doing our job, for your safety.

We had a vehicle presented this week for test, on beginning the test the abs light was illuminated indicating a fault with the abs system, the only reason for rejection noted. As normal we contacted the young lady and explained that it was a fail for this reason.The young lady told us the light wasn’t illuminated when she left it but that it occasionally came on and stayed on for a day or two.we made the offer to plug in the diagnostics machine to read the fault codes and extinguish the lamp, if it stayed out we could then retest and issue a pass, or she could take it away and return when the light was out for retest. She chose the first option, we extinguished the light, made note of the fault codes for her and issued the pass. Fine you would think, job done.

However 40 minutes later I had a call from her partner accusing me of putting the light on ! When I explained the light was on at the beginning of the test he told me I was lying, at this point I handed the phone over to the boss who went through the same explanation with the same result.

Contrary to what some people appear to believe Mot testers don’t make up their own reasons to fail a vehicle, we’re not out to rip people off doing unnecessary work, it’s just not worth the damage to our reputation.

When the bill was presented with the diagnostics listed as free of charge, there were no thanks or an apology for her partner’s attitude.

Other items this week, a Ford Ka presented with a leaking brake pipe union, sometimes we find this after a brake pipe has been changed and not checked with the brakes applied. What was unusual was the brake pipe appeared to be the original and no signs of work having taken place to account for the leak.

Some new reasons for rejection have been applicable since the beginning of the year with regards to ball joint rubber boots. This one was on an 03 Corsa anti roll bar link.

“… a balljoint rubber boot deteriorated no longer preventing the ingress of dirt etc”

seen removed from the vehicle , yup I think dirt will get in there

steering, brakes and suspension

We’ve had a number of items crop up this week, the first was on a ‘w’ reg Ford Ka, quite a bit  of corrosion reared it’s ugly head, not really surprising bearing in mind it’s age, but we also found a steering issue

the universal joint at the bottom of the steering column was excessively worn, allowing ecess free play at the sterring wheel, approx 30mm rather than the allowable 13mm. As it was a vehicle with power steering the joint was not available as a separate item, necessitating a replacement steering column, fortunately we were able to source a second unit rather than having to pay the main dealer price 0f £300+ for a new unit.

Friday afternoon we had a rather worried young lady in as her brakes were making a funny noise, a visual check through the wheels revealed one of the pads  breaking up, once the parts were ordered and on their way a stripdown revealed 3 of the 4 pads friction material had separated from the backing plate.

The pads were about 2/3rds worn but the vehicle had been relatively unused for a month or two .

Saturday brought a different problem in. An 06 Astra  for test had a badly worn tyre showing the cords.

  Once I began to check the steering and suspension on the ramp the reason for the inner edge wearing so badly became apparent.

The ball joint in suspension arm was badly worn, when it was driven into the brake tester to check the brakes a loud clunk from the front suspension was heard, had the vehicle come into the workshop when the clunk was 1st apparent the tyre may have lasted a few months more.

Matters of testing issue 53

The latest edition of matters of testing is available to view or download at

it is also worthwhile browsing or downloading the special notices available at as they give some indication of  forthcoming changes to the mot scheme

The Vt32 Advisory notice.

Often when conducting an Mot the tester will notice an item that has deteriorated, but has not yet become bad enough to warrant a failure. In a few cases I’ve seen customers glance at the vt32 and immediately dispose of the advisory notice without consulting regarding  the necessary repairs.

There is a reason for issuing these notices and it’s not just to cover our backsides.

Two examples have arisen this week, in one case the handbrake had been advised (by me, in January) that the efficiency was only just passable, the vehicle returned to us this week to have the repairs carried out before taking the car away for a long weekend.

Checking in the roller brake tester the efficiency of the handbrake was down below 5%. A stripdown of the brakes revealed the brake shoes very badly worn and the braking surface of the drums severely corroded.

The second example could have had far more serious consequences, the vehicle had been tested elsewhere several months ago and the owner had been advised that a brake hose was deteriorated.

The brake hose split this week and resulted in a minor shunt, however the owner suggested that perhaps the tester had been overly lenient when the vehicle was tested and perhaps the test was in his words “dodgy”.

Did he complain at the time, or was he just pleased not to have another repair at the time ?

However he then asked us to blank off the relevant brake hose as he couldn’t afford to have the  repair done until the end of the month but needed the car for work!!

Fortunately he was able to come to an agreement with the boss and the repair was completed rather than allow the vehicle to continue on the road in that condition.


Fortunately the coming changes to the Mot certificate will prevent the vehicle owners from just binning the Vt32 on their way out of the testing station, so there will be a permanent reminder that work is required .

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