Industry unites against possible MOT change

UK AFCAR, the coalition formed to lobby the UK government in a post-Brexit era, called any possible frequency change to the MOT test as a “dangerous step backwards for road safety”.

Recent reports in the national media suggested that the UK government is looking at relaxing the MOT Test Frequency from a 3-1-1 test regime to an MOT test every two years, to help ease the cost-of-living crisis.

But, the UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (UK AFCAR), which is made up of trade associations and commercial organisations who share common concerns about the UK Aftermarket, has called on the UK government to shelve any such proposals that reduce road safety and lead to an actual increase in car repair and maintenance costs. The environment would also suffer as vehicle emissions remaining unchecked will result in poorly maintained vehicles harming the environment.

The coalition says that to ensure motoring is as safe and cost-effective as possible, motorists must have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly. Evidence shows MOT and servicing is done at the same time so a reduction in test frequency means a reduction in servicing and further separates a motorist’s responsibility on a vehicle’s roadworthiness.

Data from the DVSA shows that one in three vehicles presented for an MOT test fail and 30 percent of those fail on brakes, a safety critical component. Therefore, moving to an extended testing period with an ageing vehicle parc would see more defective vehicles on the roads and potentially cause more accidents and fatalities, as well as higher repair costs. SMMT data also shows that 42 percent of vehicles on UK roads are over 10 years old – this highlights the need for regular MOT inspections.

Mark Field, IAAF Chief Executive and UK AFCAR Chairman, said: “We recognise the enormous strain the rising cost of living has on UK families and its solution will need be found through a diverse and widespread range of measures. But, each time the MOT test frequency has been called into question, it has been proven beyond doubt that extending the test frequency would mean a significant reduction in road safety as there would be more defective vehicles on UK roads and, as a consequence, an actual increase in repair costs for drivers.

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive had this to say on the proposed changes: “In our opinion this whole plan is dangerous, unwanted and unreasonable. This proposal has been scrutinised at least four times that I have known of in the last 15 years, and every time it has been deemed detrimental to road safety.

“It is a fact that in times of economic hardship, motorists cut back on servicing their cars and it is the annual MOT that has kept the UK’s road safety at high levels thanks to the vital safety checks it carries out. Saving the cost of an MOT biannually is not worth the price of national road safety.”

Decades of MOT equipment supply

As Tecalemit Garage Equipment enter their 100th year of supplying garage equipment into workshops across the UK, they look back over decades of supplying MOT testing equipment

Back in the 1970’s, the Tecalemit DE7100 series Roller Brake Tester was a hydraulically operated unit, developed in consultation with the Department of Transport, or the ministry as it was affectionately known. Even, fifty years later in 2021, there are numerous Tecalemit DE7182 and DE7184 roller brake testers still performing MOT tests across the country. The team at Tecalemit still have all the correct calibration rigs to keep these units running smoothly and accurately. In the early 1980’s, the measurement technology moved to an electronic platform and the Tecalemit DE7200 series became the mainstay of the MOT test bay.

The latest MOT specifications stipulate that for new installations, the Roller Brake Tester is connected to the internet for the transmission of data to the DVSA. This has seen the number of these original Tecalemit brake testers gradually decline, as loyal customers look to upgrade to the new specification equipment and install the latest MOT Automated Test Lane technology. It is testament to the Tecalemit product quality that some of the older roller brake testers are now approaching fifty years of age and many will have conducted over 100,000 MOT tests and still continue to perform satisfactorily.

Today, the most common type of MOT bay format is a recessed vehicle lift with a brake tester, and emission tester connected via a cabled internet connection to the DVSA MOT system via the customer’s broadband connection. Tecalemit have retained their high visibility LED matrix display as an alternative to a simple TFT LCD screen. The high visibility LED Matrix display proves to be very popular due to its size, high visibility in bright workshops combined with its ability to be seen from a distance.

All of this history in MOT equipment supply means that Tecalemit’s UK Equipment Specialists have collectively over 120 years of MOT bay design, covering existing and new buildings and using a variety of bay layouts. Whilst an MOT bay with a recessed lift proves to be the most popular due to their space- saving configuration that sees the vehicle lift form part of the brake test standing area, Tecalemit also supply pit-based MOT bays, and bays that utilise a surface mounted vehicle lift. With a range of headlamp beam testers, portable decelerometers and complete ancillary packs with shadow boards, the entire MOT bay can be supplied by Tecalemit.

With a full MOT workshop design and project management capability, the team at Tecalemit are experts at helping garages with the entire process, from VT01 application through the required civil work and onto final DVSA sign off. Check out some of the Tecalemit team case studies at www.tecalemit.co.uk/project-case-studies to see how the team work.

With a range of equipment options for Class I, II, II, IV VII and Commercial Vehicles, the Tecalemit team can help you profit from MOT testing.

sales@tecalemit.co.uk

www.tecalemit.co.uk

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 BookMyGarage.com 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.

DVSA MOT data

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 BookMyGarage.com.

“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.

https://bookmygarage.com

Do you offer MOT collection & delivery?

A survey carried out by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) has revealed that 88% of independent garages are currently offering an MOT collection and delivery service for clinically extremely vulnerable and self-isolating people.

The survey, carried out this week on behalf of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), also found that out of the 12% of garages who do not currently offer this service, two-thirds would be prepared to if the customer was vulnerable.

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive, states: “These statistics show yet again that the independent garage sector is able to safely meet the needs of vulnerable customers when they are isolating and need to MOT their car, which reinforces the Government’s decision not to enforce another MOT extension. The IGA has carried out many hundreds of COVID-19 Compliance Audits in garages across the country in support of the Government’s drive to eradicate this virus.

“Independent garages have proven to be safe places for local communities to drop off their cars for MOTs, servicing and repairs, so that even our most vulnerable members of society can safely keep their vehicles roadworthy.”

www.independentgarageassociation.co.uk

Don’t miss out on Class 7 testing opportunity

With the DVSA announcing that van drivers and delivery fleets across the UK are struggling to book Class 7 MOT slots, LKQ Euro Car Parts is urging garages to do what they can to help.

The challenge has stemmed from the backlog created by the MOT extension earlier this year, with demand remaining high across every vehicle class.

Anthony McAteer, Trading Director at LKQ Euro Car Parts, said: “Christmas is always the busiest time of the year for deliveries – this year more so than ever, as people choose to shop from the comfort of their own homes. We and our workshop customers have an important part to play in keeping vans moving safely over the next few weeks – and so their drivers can keep doing their jobs when it matters most.

“As well as prioritising inbound Class 7 requests – even if just a few per day – garages can work through their databases to identify where there are Class 7 tests due (or overdue) and proactively encourage drivers to bring their vehicles in. Available slots can also be advertised on social media. Demonstrating awareness of the urgent Class 7 testing need and an understanding of the business-critical roles many vans play will also help to encourage loyalty from new and existing customers.

“We’re advising garages to take advantage of high demand for tests over the next few weeks, before things quieten down. Bringing in business between now and Christmas will help to offset the impact of what’s been a challenging year. Being proactive is the best way to manage demand and plan resource effectively – even bringing temporary team members on board if there’s capacity in the workshop to do so safely.”

https://omnipart.eurocarparts.com/

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
1(Birmingham)232,900146,14786,75359.36%
2(Sheffield)164,001105,08158,92056.07%
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%
7(Glasgow)126,96875,45451,51468.27%
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
11(Manchester)112,97070,07542,89561.21%
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.

MOTs suspended for six months but garages should remain open

The Government has said all cars, light vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. The exemption will last six months.

“Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles”, the Government added.

If motorists cannot get an MoT which is due, because they are in self-isolation, the Department for Transport is working with insurers and the police to ensure people are not “unfairly penalised”.

There has been conflicting advice and communication from Government over recent days in relations to businesses which must close to address the spread of Covid-19.
The SMMT has sought clarification from Government:

As set out in the section on staying at home, people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do absolutely cannot be done from home.

With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

As set out in the section on closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. The Government has set out guidance on which organisations this requirement covers. Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows symptoms.



The DVSA have published guidance for garages.

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. 

TO MODIFY OR UPGRADE? 

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, www.gea.co.uk, 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

Keep it clean: ‘Emission Solver’ fuel additives

An MOT emissions failure offers an opportunity to upsell a variety of products and services; Rob Marshall investigates… 

In the medical profession, the supply of a ‘sample’ helps to determine if something is wrong inside the body. The same is true of emissions – analysing what comes out of the tailpipe is a useful indicator of engine and ancillary component conditions. We heard recently of a DPF-equipped 2.0-litre Peugeot 407 failing its smoke opacity test, because the EGR valve was stuck open partially but the MIL lamp had not illuminated. Similarly, a 1980 Triumph Spitfire 1500 (not yet MOT exempt) possessed CO of 5.85% (against a pass of 4.50%) and HC of 2854 (against a 1200ppm limit) – apart from a slight intermittent misfire at tick-over, the engine ran well. The cause was a broken spark plug centre electrode. Both faults were identified solely by high emissions readings. 

MOT failure repairs must not take advantage of the car owner, but a plan must be presented to ensure that the vehicle’s emissions are brought down to a level that are likely to be maintained in the real world, until the next test. Use your judgement; a neglected-looking vehicle may pass after a thorough service, for example. Otherwise, you may be able to promote your diagnostic expertise to pin-point a possible fault but start with the simplest route – replacing the catalytic converter blindly does neither customer, nor your repute any good, especially if it does not solve the problem. Yet, many narrow emissions fails are caused by contamination, rather than a specific fault. 

SPLASH AND DASH 

A variety of cleaning products can be dosed into the tank. In an MOT failure scenario, an extra strong additive would be more useful, compared to a typical retail product, but note that certain products, such as Cataclean, are sold to both retail and trade customers with no formulation differences. 

BG Products told us that its BG245 additive is an effective cleaner, when added to diesel, but its UK importer has heard of technicians seeking faster results, by pouring it into the fuel filter housing. While not recommended officially, BG245 contains sufficient lubricant to prevent damage to high pressure pumps and injectors, even if used in a highly concentrated form. 

Definitions of contamination vary between unburnt carbon, oil deposits and gum formation from the fuel, all of which can cause inefficient running, which heightens emissions, especially on more modern engine designs. Yet, will the typical customer be prepared to pay for a comprehensive Terraclean service, for example, or seek a cheaper solution?

Liqui Moly’s approach is to add a can of its Diesel Particulate Protect to the fuel tank and drive the car for 50 miles at constant 3,000rpm engine speed, after which time, its Super Diesel Additive is then added to clean the fuel system. For non- DPF diesels, Liqui Moly recommends that its Diesel Stop Smoke is added and the car driven for a few miles at 3,000rpm, before being retested. Lucas Oil promotes its Deep Clean Fuel System Cleaner that removes tars and varnishes on petrol injectors, caused mainly by variable pump fuel quality. It is supported by the Lucas Fuel Treatment that can be used for both petrol and diesels that focusses on cleansing the fuel system components. While Tetrosyl, through its Carlube brand, sells a variety of petrol and diesel cleaners, its Carlube Fuel System Cleaner Diesel and Carlube Fuel System Cleaner Petrol are designed to yield the fastest results but the company suggests that recommending further use of its less concentrated products (for example Carlube Diesel Treatment, or Carlube Petrol Treatment) pays dividends as preventative measures. 

RISE OF THE MACHINES

Offering an engine decontamination service as a means of decreasing emissions is a matter of deciding on whether, or not, there will be sufficient demand to justify your investment. Suppliers can assist with your choice, such as Terraclean, EFB and Hy-Carbon from FlexFuel. Even additive companies are selling their products for use with a dedicated machine, an example being Forte’s Power-Clean. With the continuing requirements to curtail emissions, it is certain that the link between engine contamination and high pollutant levels are likely to remain unfortunate bedfellows.