Research suggests that the rising cost of motoring is one of the upswings of the economic downturn most impacting your finances.
A recent Moneywise poll also found that 34% of you have cut back on the amount of driving you do as a result of higher petrol prices, while 24% have significantly reduced the time you spend in your vehicle.
There are plenty of ways to cut the cost of driving, from shopping around for your petrol to being more fuel efficient.
But one cost that hits many drivers year-after-year is getting an annual MOT. Unfortunately, this is one expense you can’t avoid – but you can reduce the burden with these simple tips.
The government sets maximum MOT fees, which are available on the Directgov website. Currently, MOTs on cars and caravans cost £53.10, while motorbikes cost £28.65 without a side car or £36.55 with. Remember, that is just the cost of the MOT and doesn’t include any work that needs to be carried out.
It’s worth bearing in mind that some garages will charge a lower fee, so it’s worth shopping around to find out what deals are available in your area.
Of course, it’s important to also ensure that the garage doing your MOT is going to do a good job. At the very least you should ensure the garage is approved to carry out an MOT (look out for the blue three triangle logo that approved firms must display). But it is also worth asking your friends, neighbours and work colleagues to see if they can recommend an MOT-approved garage – reputation is everything after all.
One of the best ways to reduce the cost of your MOT is to bypass garages and instead head to a government MOT test centre provided by your local council.
Local councils have their own MOT test centres for official vehicles, but what many people don’t realise is that, by law, these are also open to the public – and are more often than not cheaper than garages.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that government MOT test centres do not carry out repairs. Garages often advertise ‘MOT plus any repair’ deals, which you will miss out on if you opt for this alternative.
However, on the plus side, when using a government MOT test centre you can be sure that the mechanic inspecting your vehicle will not find faults that don’t exist.
Contact your local council to find out more.
You don’t have to be a mechanic to carry out some basic checks on your vehicle ahead of your annual MOT. By spending an hour or two checking for any potential problems and getting them sorted, you can avoid paying for an MOT you are destined to fail.
The top things to check are cracks in windscreens, broken mirrors and your horn. If you fix any problems ahead of your MOT then you can lower your final bill. Also, check all the vehicle’s lights are functioning correctly, all the seatbelts are secure and the handbrake is in good working order. You should also ensure your registration plate is properly secured to the vehicle and can be easily read.
Next, check your tyres and your fluid levels. These checks should be done on a regular basis anyhow, especially as low tyre pressure can increase the amount of petrol you use.
Check out the following websites for more DIY car maintenance tips:
Know your rights
If your car fails its MOT then you are entitled to a free retest, just as long as your vehicle doesn’t leave the garage’s test centre.
However, some repairs (such as emissions) may be needed to be carried out elsewhere. According to Which?, you will still be entitled to a free partial test, as long as you return to the original test centre before the end of the next working day.
If you aren’t happy with the results of your MOT then you can either take it elsewhere for a retest (and pay the full fee) or consider appealing the decision.
Ask your MOT test centre for a VT17 form to fill in and make sure you contact the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) within 14 working days of the test. Your car will then be checked within five days.
Although you will have to pay VOSA for the retest, this is refunded if your vehicle passes. If it doesn’t, then not only will you not receive a refund (meaning you have effectively paid twice for your MOT) but you will also have to fork out for the repairs.