MOT scam warning: Seven rip-off garage tactics to watch out for – Brits urged to ‘be wary’

MOT test: Tips to make sure your car passes

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An MOT is an annual test of vehicle safety required in the UK to ensure cars are roadworthy. The cost of this check-up can vary depending on the type of vehicle, and any additional services a motorist opts for or requires at this time.

However, experts from have issued a warning to Britons about the potential of garage “scams”.

Though most mechanics are honest and want to help identify any problems, there are occasions when drivers find themselves walking away with a hefty fine having been overcharged for components or labour time.

Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at revealed the five most common ways some garage mechanics have been known to try and squeeze more money from drivers, and how to avoid them.

Overcharging for parts of labour

Although there is always a cost associated with parts or labour, according to Mr Kindred, some mechanics may ramp up the price.

Garages are well within their right to charge more than they purchased a part for, but if the cost is £80 to £100 more than the selling price, it is likely you are being overcharged.

He said: “Like any other business, a garage will buy parts wholesale and sell them higher to make a profit.

“However, customers won’t know how much they were originally purchased for and this makes it very easy for garages to overcharge customers for components.

“Drivers must also be wary of extra charges for mechanics running diagnostic tests.

“While they only need to run a quick scan; this requires very little labour which they could still add a fee for.”

In the event the cost of parts or labour seem extremely high, Mr Kindred recommends finding out how much they would normally cost by ringing the dealer for your manufacturer or checking online.

Mr Kindred also recommends trying the same method for labour. Find out the specific amount of time you are being quoted for, and then research to find out how much this type of job typically takes.

This should let you know if you are being charged a fair price.

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Car jargon

Motoring jargon is one way some mechanics can end up swindling people out of money, according to the car insurance expert.

He said: “While a lot of us won’t have a great knowledge of cars, it can be difficult to understand the barrage of motoring jargon used by mechanics.”

Mr Kindred explains how drivers in the past have reported mechanics using technical vocabulary to “bamboozle” them into saying yes to “unnecessary repairs”.

Therefore if you aren’t sure of a word they use, ask them upfront for a straightforward explanation of what a word means.

This is also why it is important to get all repairs in writing too so that you can get a second opinion if necessary.

Exaggerating fault

Some car mechanics have been known to exaggerate how serious a vehicle fault is, causing concerned drivers to rush into fixing a problem that may not necessarily require work.

For example, your power steering pump may have started making a minor amount of noise and can be replaced at any nearby garage.

However, your mechanic may exaggerate how long you have before a replacement is necessary – even if it might last for a long time before it fails.

Mr Kindred warns that this urgency can often panic buyers and stop them from shopping around for the best deal.

He advised: “Before deciding to have the job done, see if you can get a second opinion from another garage on whether it needs doing right away and do some price comparisons to find out where you can get the best replacement deal.”

Charging for parts that haven’t actually been replaced

This kind of tactic can catch many people out, particularly if you aren’t an expert at understanding every element of your vehicle.

Mr Kindred said: “How many of us can say they go right underneath their vehicle after ongoing maintenance to inspect the new parts which have been ‘replaced’ by the mechanic?

“It is actually pretty impossible – especially for someone with minimal knowledge on vehicle maintenance – to identify whether a part has been replaced with a new component or with a used part, even if the mechanic has charged full price.”

The best way to avoid this is by asking your mechanic to show you the replaced parts. More often than not, garages will be happy to give you the replaced parts to show what has been done and point out where the problem with the faulty component was.

In the event you do run into this form of scam, Mr Kindred advises reporting it to Trading Standards.

Car fails MOT with unnecessary repairs

Although in the vast majority of cases garages will only fail a car’s MOT if it does not meet the legal requirements, sometimes unexpected repairs might not be as necessary as a mechanic says.

The car insurance expert said: “Your car is running perfectly, then you take it in for its MOT and it comes away with a long list of unexpected repairs. You’re told some of these will be essential for the car to legally pass the MOT.

“However, before you agree to the work and hand over your cash, not all the repairs may be essential, despite what your mechanic might claim.”

In this instance it is vital drivers ask to see the fail report.

Mr Kindred added: “The MOT is split into two categories, advisories and failures, therefore your vehicle is still deemed roadworthy if you don’t repair the advisories.”

Receiving a high bill despite a low quote

This is a move that Mr Kindred says is a “classic trick of the trade”.

Customers can be lured in by low predicted prices, only to find the cost has dramatically risen once the jobs have been completed.

The car insurance expert said: “Usually, the mechanic will claim they didn’t know they would have to get the parts from the manufacturer’s main dealer rather than a third-party shop.

“To avoid being surprised by a hefty quote at the end of your servicing, ask for a written quote ensuring it includes all parts, labour and VAT costs.

“An honest mechanic should ask for your permission before starting any major repairs, and if they do need to go to a main manufacturer dealer, you should be consulted first.”

Should the cost of parts appear higher than originally quoted, motorists always have the right to hold on and look around elsewhere before going ahead.

Being offered a “dodgy” MOT

Mr Kindred said: “Dodgy MOTs are nothing new. They’re an illegal practice undertaken by some mechanics to pass vehicles that shouldn’t be on the road.”

In some cases, this is down to mechanic’s “helping out a friend” or “doing a favour in return for a sum of money”.

Either way, if your MOT is not legitimate, your car is not legal to be on the road.

The expert added: “If pulled over without a valid MOT, you can face a fine or get points on your licence as well as drive up your car insurance costs when you renew your policy.”

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