MOT test numbers recover by 45 per cent

New MOT test data from the DVSA shows MOT test numbers made a strong recovery between April and June of this year, following the disruption caused by last year’s MOT extension.

The DVSA data, obtained by through a Freedom of Information request, shows 45 per cent more MOTs took place in Q2 2021 than in Q2 2020.

Although a notable improvement on last year, test numbers were still down 32 per cent compared to Q2 2019. The six-month extension saw a huge decline in MOT test numbers between April and June last year, but a large increase between September and December as MOTs eligible for the extension took place later in the year.


Number of Class 4 MOT tests conducted monthly. Source: DVSA via a Freedom of Information request

The remainder of 2021 is expected to be busy again but to a lesser extent as the same period in 2020.

“While MOT test numbers between April and June are still some way off 2019 levels, it’s interesting to see numbers have recovered by almost half, or some 1.7 million tests,” commented Karen Rotberg, Co-Founder of

“That means approximately half of the 3.4 million additional MOT tests that took place between September and December last year have already been conducted. So, while this autumn and winter will still be busier than normal for garages, we don’t expect it to be quite to the same extent as last year.

“We knew the six-month MOT extension would have an impact lasting several years, but this data shows that in the first year alone, MOT numbers have already rebalanced somewhat.”

The recovery of MOT test numbers in the challenging second quarter of 2021 was likely driven by a combination of used cars being sold with a new MOT, and three-year-old cars having an MOT test for the first time.

DVSA Safe Campaign

Workshops urged to get behind DVSA Safe Campaign –

With the MOT extension in 2020 resulting in fewer tests over the coming months, First Line is supporting motor factors and garages to proactively promote vehicle safety checks as part of the DVSA’s ‘Make it SAFE’ campaign, and to further drive business back into the independent aftermarket.

First Line is urging motor factors and repairers to download a selection of marketing materials, communicating the need for basic checks and to encourage a service or MOT before driving again more regularly. Jon Roughley, Global Marketing Director, said: “There is a real concern about the safety and roadworthiness of vehicles on our roads, especially following a period of inactivity and MOT extension.

“Now that things are slowly opening up again, we will start to see an increase of traffic as more and more people jump back into their cars. It’s important that the automotive aftermarket adopts the same resilience as it did in 2020, in effectively reminding customers about the importance of ensuring their vehicle is safe and roadworthy.”

New research from Direct Line has highlighted that approximately 3.8 million motorists are driving without an MOT.

To view and download the DVSA Vehicle Safety Toolkit, please visit:

DVSA reveals Top 20 postcodes for MOT demand this autumn

The postcodes where demand for MOTs will be highest this autumn have been revealed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). All but one UK postcode will see demand for tests rise by over 50% in October and November, as motorists granted an MOT exemption try to book their test alongside millions whose MOT is normally due.

DVSA’s Beat the Rush campaign is encouraging motorists with an MOT exemption to get their test done this August when demand is generally lower, to ensure their vehicle is safe to drive and to beat the rush. Chris Price, head of MOT policy at DVSA, said: “Garages across the country will see demand start to peak during September, with almost double the number of MOTs due in October and November.”

In August so far, 20,000 more motorists a day are getting their MOT done than in the same period last year, but there are still almost 4 million MOTs due each month in October and November.

The peak will see garages facing unprecedented demand but the Independent Garage Association (IGA) says the challenge could present an opportunity. IGA CEO Stuart James, said: “The Independent Garage Association (IGA) supports DVSA’s Beat the Rush MOT campaign. MOT slots will be more difficult to book in the next few months, so we recommend that garages communicate this to their customers and advise them to book their MOT at their earliest convenience.

“Independents will rise to the challenge to address the demand for MOTs and ensure vehicle safety. It will be an opportunity to increase their customer base for future years if they can satisfy wider customer demand at this challenging time.”

Postcodes where MOT demand will be highest in October and November:

Postcode and postal townForecast expiries in Oct & NovTypical tests in Oct and NovExtra MOT tests requiredIncrease on a typical year
3NG (Nottingham)139,24588,60250,64357.16%
4LE (Leicester)139,08785,27153,81663.11%
5PE (Peterborough)136,94484,18552,75962.67%
6BS (Bristol)136,32886,60349,72557.42%
8CF (Cardiff)124,04076,19747,84362.79%
9NE (Newcastle upon Tyne)122,43076,54145,88959.95%
10RG (Reading)119,88274,05445,82861.88%
Postcode and postal townForecast expiries in Oct & NovTypical tests in Oct and NovExtra MOT tests requiredIncrease on a typical year
12CV (Coventry)111,14568,62742,51861.96%
13PO (Portsmouth)110,64771,32339,32455.14%
14GU (Guildford)105,29966,63738,66258.02%
15NR (Norwich)103,38866,26537,12356.02%
16TN (Tunbridge Wells)103,01665,18037,83658.05%
17DE (Derby)101,91863,74338,17559.89%
18SA (Swansea)100,27561,36038,91563.42%
19EH (Edinburgh)97,11558,20738,90866.84%
20SO (Southampton)96,72761,94334,78456.15%

The table is compiled using MOT demand forecast data as of Sunday 16 August 2020.

DVSA extends MOT tester assessments

The DVSA has today announced an extension to the deadline for MOT Training and Assessment to the end of April 2020.

Mark Armitage, Head of Membership Products & Services, IMI responds:
“Anything that helps motor industry professionals cope with the current challenges they are facing is good news – so it’s welcome that the DVSA have extended the deadline for Assessment of MOT testers to the end of April.  What this does is give those who want to remain qualified to conduct MOTs more time. And the fact that our MOT Tester Annual Assessment and CPD can be completed online should make this process as easy as possible.

Mark Armitage, Head of Membership Products & Services, IMI

“We know that at some point people will need to get back into their cars and get back to their workplaces and it’s very likely that there will be a backlog of motorists whose MOT has already expired. It’s vital, therefore, that motor industry professionals are ready to support their customers when they do get back on the roads.

“As well as the online MOT Assessment module, the IMI has digital tools for a number of vehicle servicing and repair qualifications. And we are reviewing the option to extend some accreditation periods to ensure that motor industry professionals who can’t get to physical centres in the next few months do not lose their accreditations.”

For any MOT testers who want to download the IMI MOT Assessment they should visit

Drivers want more convenient service for recall work

The AA is working with manufacturers to develop a complementary mobile recalls servicing team as its Driver Panel data suggests more than half (57%) of drivers would like an alternative to taking a recalled vehicle to the dealership, while three fifths (61%) would be more likely to act on a recall notice with a delivery and collection service. Just over half (53%) would be more likely to respond if a technician could come to their home or workplace. 

DVSA figures suggest one in 13 cars in the UK has an outstanding recall notice. While three quarters of drivers in the AA poll (75%) said they were familiar with the recalls process, two fifths (42%) don’t know how to check for a recall on their vehicle. 

Stuart Thomas, Director of Fleet & SME Services, says: “We know that the ideal solution for manufacturers is to get their customers back into the dealership so they can manage the ongoing relationship throughout the vehicle lifecycle. However, for a variety of reasons, that might not always be possible. Our research suggests drivers are looking for increasingly convenient and mobile solutions and we’re working with manufacturers to meet that need.” 

Independent workshops should also take a proactive stance when it comes to Technical Service Bulletins and recalls and consider offering a service that makes the remedial work simpler and more convenient for customers. 

Thomas concludes: “Our focus is on developing data and technology to better support an approach that focuses on predictive and preventative maintenance. Going beyond traditional breakdown, we are working closely with organisations across the mobility sector to develop solutions which will provide the changing driver demographic with increased convenience and the opportunity to better plan their lives around their vehicle requirements. Our work on recalls is just one part of the process.” 

Managing your MOT equipment

Since last year’s MOT upheaval, Rob Marshall now looks at the options of modifying, or upgrading, two person MOT test lanes and queries the DVSA about its connectivity plans.

Consider the condition, range and specification of your ancillary MOT tools.

Change is inevitable but, regarding MOT Test hardware especially, the equipment is not designed to cost you a fortune with no apparent advantage. Take the One Person Test Lane (OPTL) and its more sophisticated sister, the Automated Test Lane (ATL), as examples. Their chief benefits are to reduce the number of technicians needed to conduct an MOT from two persons to one, therefore permitting the garage to reduce their direct costs related to testing. 

RBTs can still be repaired; Butts of Bawtry reports that its roller regritting kit does not require a professionally- trained operative to apply it. However, as regritting can alter the roller diameter and, therefore, affect RBT accuracy, follow the instructions carefully.

Surprisingly, not everybody is convinced. The Director of Euro Car Parts’ Workshop Solutions division, Adam White, enlightened us about his field experiences: “Many workshops are still operating on older setups and, when replacing equipment, they tend to choose older technology synonymous with two-person testing. Businesses don’t always realise that it only takes around six months to recoup the investment cost of a new OPTL; something that ultimately improves productivity, freeing-up technician time for other profitable work.” 

Considering that Workshop Solutions supplies MOT equipment from respected specialists that include Tecalemit, Liftmaster, Crypton, Bradbury, Hofmann Megaplan and John Bean, Mr White emphasises that there is considerable flexibility and bespoke packages are available, as well as leasing options. 


Butts of Bawtry explains that you can still modify an existing two-man MOT Test lane to a OPTL and recommends the equipment range from Ravaglioli for class III, IV, V and VII applications. Yet, is the inconvenience of converting your existing two-man lane worth it, versus changing the entire ramp? Involve your chosen workshop equipment supplier for advice, because your equipment preferences may not fit in with your ambitions. The provider might also advise that it could be more cost-effective to upgrade, not to maximise their own profits, but primarily to give you the best value. For example, the cost and hassle of modifying a two-person ramp may be neither possible, nor worthwhile, in certain cases. 

Should you decide to upgrade, rather than modify, two options lie ahead: OPTL, or ATL. The basic difference between them rests with the roller brake tester (RBT). The ATL’s RBT is connected to the computer/screen and, therefore, will feature upgradable software, hence offering a degree of future-proofing to meet requirements, such as offering direct connectivity to the DVSA’s servers (as detailed later). The RBT should also be able to weigh the vehicle, compared to the more basic analogue weighing hardware that is found on a typical OPTL set-up, which is harder to upgrade digitally and, therefore, is less likely to comply with future regulations without the garage experiencing additional expense and downtime. 

While an ATL tends to cost £1,000+ more than an equivalent OPTL, Workshop Solutions’ Adam White highlights that it can be a false economy not to choose an ATL, such as in cases where the RBL has to be moved to accommodate the new lift. Consider also that ancillary equipment might have to be changed; again, your equipment supplier should advise you. The lifting jack, for example, might not fit the new ramp and a new one will need to be procured. Yet, you might consider expanding your technical capabilities. Should you have to move your existing headlight beam aligner, for example, it provides the opportunity to upgrade to new hardware that will cater for LED headlights – the DVSA may not have mandated these for the MOT Test, yet, but it is likely to occur in the future, with so many current car models featuring them as standard equipment. The same is relevant for other camera/radar technologies, such as those encompassed under the ‘ADAS’ category. These issues must be considered and balanced against your funding and payback calculations but consider that upgrades tend to involve garage downtime and getting everything done in one fell swoop tends to be preferable than having to repeat the exercise several years later. Workshop Solutions told us that it takes around six months to recoup the investment cost of an OPTL and that ATLs will be upgradeable to comply with future technologies for 7-10 years at least.  

As always, choose a workshop provider that can reconcile your future plans, budget, forthcoming DVSA requirements and maintenance requirements, moving forward. 

The DVSA is not going to make connected equipment compulsory for existing Vehicle Testing Stations anytime soon but it is a requirement for new VTS. It is likely that emissions equipment, beam setters and decelerometers will follow. Boston Garage Equipment reports that its RBTs are DVSA approved as Connected MOT Equipment. As specified by the DVSA, all data must be transferred in the form of a JSON file via a secure Application Programming Interface (API). 

We made the switch! 

Astley Cross Garage, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire 

As with many garages, Astley Cross supports local private car owners not only with repairs but also buying and selling all makes and models. “MOT testing, therefore, is a critical service we offer through our business,” reports Workshop Manager, Jamie Clark, who continues: 

“Being based just outside a rural town, our customers would not tolerate the labour rates that they might encounter in a big city. Due to our relatively low hourly rate, we do not consider MOT Testing as a loss-leader, because we do not discount the maximum permitted rate set by the Department of Transport.” 

This long-established garage changed hands around five years ago, which Jamie admits introduced a slight issue, because the sale included a lot of outdated hardware, which Jamie says was adequate but far from ideal. “One of the main issues was a large pit, over which MOT Tests used to be conducted; we were never happy with it,” he recalls: “So, I planned for the entire garage to close over a fortnight for a complete refit. As we have only a relatively small workshop, the building work would have stopped us from working anyway. We decided to replace an elderly, worn-out ramp, have the pit filled-in and an ATL installed next to it.” 

Was it worth it? 

“It was absolutely worth it!” Jamie states. Not only are MOT Tests safer but they can also be conducted quicker, helped immeasurably by the shaker plates that (like those fitted to OPTLs) negate the need for a colleague to sit inside the car and operate the controls. Astley Cross Garage’s MOT Testers agree as well, although it was voiced that inspecting steering rack gaiters for rips is not as easy, with the vehicle raised and its suspension dangling – but this is a very small gripe. It was also appreciated that the roller brake tester is linked into the main computer; again, speeding-up the test procedure. 

While Jamie is happy with the installation two years- on, he admits that anybody considering installing an ATL must consider not only the hardware but also the installer. “We found that, as can happen with any building work, the fitting of the ATL was subcontracted to another company and there were a number of delays that could have been avoided, prolonging the work, which was more than slightly frustrating at the time”, he explained. 

Therefore, consider the practicalities, including any potential disruption to your business, as part of your costings.

The DVSA speaks to AT about connectivity 

Prior to going to press, a number of MOT Testers and garage owners voiced concerns to us about the DVSA mandating that certain MOT equipment must be connected to their servers, so MOT data can be seen by the department in real time. Responding to your concerns and our questions, Neil Barlow, the DVSA’s Head of Vehicle Engineering, told us that the authority is introducing connected equipment to modernise testing and reduce the potential for mistakes. He says: “There are several benefits to using equipment that connects directly with the MOT Testing Service. For existing equipment, such as roller brake testers (RBTs), it will save time in re keying data and reduce the risks of error. The same approach can also enable newer equipment, such as digital camera-based technology, to improve confidence that the right vehicle is being tested, and on- board diagnostic readers that will set the foundations for potential new areas of the test. 

“For RBTs, the connected equipment will provide the same information that we receive now but without the need for re-keying. For other equipment, such as emissions equipment, or headlamp aim, we will be able to have similar levels of detailed data. This will help with consistency, but also give us better information on which to make future decisions, for example, test criteria based on the ‘state of the car fleet’. 

“We set ourselves a target of changing the approval specifications for new models of class IV, V and VII RBTs to require connectivity from 1 July 2019. We have agreed with the Garage Equipment Association (GEA) not to approve any new models of RBTs in the relevant classes unless they are connectable. 

“We are also working with the GEA on rule changes for diesel smoke meters, exhaust gas analysers and decelerometers. We have agreed with the GEA that no new models of these kinds of equipment will receive approval from 1 August 2019 unless they are connectable. We will continue to work with the garage trade, the GEA and manufacturers on this. This will enable us to work towards a wider implementation of this technology, starting with new garage approvals. 

“The DVSA has worked with the GEA and continues to work with all manufacturers who are keen to develop new products across the range of equipment. Typically, the software development has taken days rather than months to complete. We have worked on live products with around five manufacturers and are open to working with any manufacturers in the future.”  

The GEA’s Chief Executive, Dave Garratt, informed AT that the DVSA and the GEA are currently testing the quality of Connectable RBTs and the GEA will publish a list on its website,, shortly, showing those that have been accepted for use in the MOT scheme. 


Shoddy MOT tester prosecuted

A Bristol MOT tester has been successfully prosecuted by The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) after he carried out sub-standard MOTs in a layby in Keynsham.

On 3 July 2019 at Bristol Magistrates Court, Paul Court-Chandler, 47 of Pretoria Road, Patchway in Bristol was found guilty of fraud when he admitted logging into the account of his former employer, Stockwood Garage, and falsely issuing 25 MOT certificates.

He admitted that none of the vehicles had ever been to the garage printed on the certificate and therefore had not had the brakes, emissions or underside checked, which are mandatory in an MOT test.

Andy Rice, DVSA Head of Counter Fraud and Investigations said:

“DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

“MOT fraud is a serious issue, it puts potentially dangerous vehicles on the road. This is why we’re now using artificial intelligence and expert analysis to interrogate MOT records and pick out potentially fraudulent or incompetent tests.

“When we find such activity, we’ll consider banning and prosecuting offenders, and will push for the strongest punishments.”

For the first and second offences a total of 52 weeks in prison was handed down, suspended for 24 months. For remaining offences there was a custodial sentence of 26 weeks suspended for 24 months to run concurrently. He was also made the subject of a 12- month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work. The judge ordered him to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £1200 together with a victim surcharge of £140.

He also was banned from being an MOT tester by DVSA.

The deception came to light after DVSA received intelligence about the issue and launched an investigation.
Court-Chandler told DVSA that he only charged the going rate for an MOT and stopped when he had repaid a debt.

DVSA offers a range of free and easy digital services for motorists. These include:

Get MOT reminders service
Check MOT history service
Check Vehicle recalls service

Emissions: The MOT and your workplace

A tightening of tailpipe emissions was one of the defining MOT changes from last year; Rob Marshall looks at how they can be influenced by engine management, provides updates on exhaust noise emissions and looks at the latest feedback on current MOT updates. 

While assessing exhaust noise during the MOT is subjective, the actual limits for a particular car model tend to be displayed on the V5C – which may be worth pointing out to a customer, because it is illegal to make the exhaust significantly noisier after the car has been Type Approved.

Despite the major MOT changes that were necessary from last year to comply with EU legislation, which necessitated that Vehicle Test Stations (VTS) either updated, or replaced, their Diesel Smoke Meters (plus the almost total re-edit of the MOT Inspection Manual) it is a credit to everybody involved that the public has not noticed any serious disruptions to the service. Understandably, a number of clarifications were required post- implementation to help testers address conflicting advice and definitions in their day-to-day work. Yet, a spokesperson from the RMIF told Autotechnician that it had not received any concerns from members after the initial dust settled post-May 2018. 



Since May, things have not been standing still. A number of technicians admitted that, while it has taken some time to adapt to the new system, they felt well-supported by the DVSA. Comments from disgruntled professionals on the Agency’s own ‘Matters of Testing’ blog, however, reveal that some testers are not so happy. 

Launched in November last year, a new MOT risk assessment system sought to improve standards, by targeting persistently poor-performing testers and test stations. This gave every tester and VTS a risk rating. Yet, the method of calculation would alter over time, so data cannot be manipulated in order to give more positive ratings. Naturally, testers have questioned how wise it is to base scores on national average figures and, naturally, critique has followed from testers that have seen their ratings fall. 

After an emissions fail, live data checks may help to pinpoint inaccurate sensor values.
Pictured is Stephen Wallman, credited as
the father of the lambda sensor, which
was introduced first in North American-specification Volvos in 1976 and produced by Bosch Automotive.

Neil Barlow from the DVSA admits that, while changes will take time to bed in, the risk ratings have helped the Agency to target garages that are not doing things properly. He advises testers that, should their personal ratings be in either the Amber or Red categories, they should take a look to see what the cause might be. Mr Barlow admits that low ratings may be a concern for freelance/temporary testers especially, in which case, providing evidence of any response, such as extra tuition, will help. This is why staff training forms part of a VTS’s overall risk score and it is advisable for annual training and assessment exercises to be completed on time. 

Additionally, the DVSA seeks to reduce the number of vehicles that are not registered correctly during an MOT Test, which it admits takes up a lot of resources to resolve, at the expense of improving the service. In response, changes are being made to vehicle registration screens and that plug-in access to the vehicle diagnostic port is reported as being closer to becoming a reality, so that the VIN number can be read directly from the vehicle. 


Something that the public, and testers, noticed immediately after the 20th of May was a significant rise in MOT failure rates on emissions – with 3⁄4 of a million cars not meeting the revised limits within six months. While our editorial on exhausts looks at potential problems with those systems, it is easy to forget the basics. Obviously, an engine must be warmed before the test, because anti-pollution catalysts require high temperatures to work, which leads some technicians to prefer that the car is driven hard just prior to being emissions tested. We have heard that the DVSA is checking that engine oil temperature is measured and verified, instead of being bypassed, so a pre-test drive is even more worthwhile. 

Do not forget that maintaining an optimum 14.3:1 air to fuel ratio is critical to achieving optimised petrol catalytic converter performance and longevity, which tends to be the role of engine management, achieved by well-maintained fuel, intake and ignition systems. HELLA emphasises the importance of fitting OE quality sensors for any repair to keep emissions within their design parameters. The company advises that the lambda sensor is subject to wear and should be checked at around every 20,000 miles – although it is fair to say that its function tends to be checked at MOT emissions test time. Yet, an emissions reading includes a lambda figure that is calculated and can be manipulated. For example, a high lambda reading that indicates a weak mixture may be the result of a leaking exhaust joint and not the fault of the lambda sensor itself. 


Considering that an MOT inspector should assess the noise of an exhaust system either during the emissions test, or revving the engine to around 2,500rpm (or half the maximum engine speed), it is surprising that so many non-road legal systems remain installed to everyday cars – something that is not restricted solely to the ‘boy racer’ fraternity. Naturally, this is a subjective examination, in that the tester has to make an assessment that is based on experience that the tested vehicle is not emitting a noise level beyond that of a similar vehicle with a standard silencer system in average condition. This personal opinion can court conflict from the owner. Yet, an opinion is all that a Road Traffic Officer requires to assess that a vehicle is noisier than a standard-specification alternative and we are aware of some police forces possessing decibel-reading equipment that are looking to report motorists to court, where they may face both fine and court costs. 


While welding repairs are not as popular as they once were, to obtain an MOT pass, it is still a useful service to offer. Yet, following recent scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, it has been found that exposure to mild steel welding fumes can contribute to the incidence of lung (and possibly kidney) cancer. Therefore, the Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fumes as a human carcinogen. With immediate effect, there is a strengthening of the Health and Safety Executives’ enforcement expectation for all welding that is carried-out indoors. 

To control the risk, you will need to take action, such as employing air extraction, which is supplemented by adequate and suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), which must be worn, whether welding indoors, or outdoors. Welders should be instructed and trained in the use of both of these controls. The Health and Safety Executive states that it will not accept any welding undertaken without suitable exposure control measures in place. For more information, visit: 

MOT Testers risk suspension as deadline looms

The DVSA has warned that more than 40% of MOT testers face being suspended from testing if they don’t complete their annual training and assessment by the 31st March deadline.

If suspended, testers will need to complete all next year’s topics and take a demonstration test to be able to return to testing. Testers need to do at least 3 hours of training each year and a total of 16 hours in 5 years. The pass mark for the assessment is 70%.

2018 to 2019 training topics can be found here Site managers and authorised examiners can check testers have recorded their results correctly on the MOT testing service. The assessment is online so testers can complete this at home or at work, they can also use their notes and MOT inspection manual during the assessment.

MOT Special Notice: Smoke Meters

An MOT Special Notice was issued this month relating to issues surrounding Diesel smoke meter upgrades and annual assessments. 

The notice reminded MOT stations of the EU roadworthiness directive updates, which resulted in the need to upgrade or replace diesel smoke meters by 20 May 2018. The DVSA urged stations to check their equipment met the requirements and to stop testing if found not to be the case. 

It stated there had been a problem with some devices after upgrades, for example, the entry and use of a plate value to assess the test standard. Equipment manufacturers and the Garage Equipment Association (GEA) are investigating and resolving any issues. A list of DVSA-accepted equipment is available on the GEA website (within the technical library at If your diesel smoke meter doesn’t appear in the list, or if you have any questions about the upgrade, contact the GEA. 

The DVSA notice also reminded MOT testers that training and assessments must be successfully completed by Sunday 31 March 2019, and need to record their annual assessment certificate on their MOT testing service profile, as soon as possible. If you do not pass and record your assessment result by 31 March 2019, you’ll be suspended in the MOT testing service.