The tester - or authorised examiner - is the person at an MOT testing station who is empowered to carry out MOT tests following the very clear guidance laid down in the MOT Inspection Manual produced by the Vehicle Inspectorate.

The authorised examiner is always a very experienced mechanic who has passed a further course and exam before being able to carry out test. Equally the MOT testing station will have been inspected and approved.

Contrary to popular motoring mythology they are neither obliged to fail a fixed percentage of cars each week nor can they fail cars simply to increase their repair. But then, if you have any sense at all you will have carried out your own checks before taking your car in for the test or, if you are unhappy with your ability to do these checks, will have arranged and paid for a pre-test look-over by a reliable garage, something which usually costs just £20-30. 

If you really want to know every nuance of the MOT test many libraries have a copy of this manual in their reference section.

The tester will not issue a certificate if the vehicle :

  1. Has any component worn so far as to be unsafe
  2. Has a major component in need of replacement of adjustment
  3. Has a testable item - e.g. tyres - which break the laws.

The examiner will generally spend about 20 minutes carrying out a methodical series of tests some with the aid of highly specialised equipment.

The areas that the examiner will check are :

  • Lights
  • Steering and suspension
  • Brakes
  • Tyres
  • Wheels
  • Seatbelts
  • Visibility
  • Horn
  • Exhaust emissions
  • General bodily condition including the underside
  • Mirrors
  • Fuel system
  • Speedometer

These tests in more detail are on the MOT check-list which can help with your own pre-test checks. Obviously you cannot effectively test things like exhaust emissions which need highly specialised equipment but you can carry out simpler checks which will reveal major problems. 

If all of these checks are completed successfully the examiner issues a certificate - form VT20 - listing the vehicle's details. This certificate must be signed and dated by the examiner and carry the embossed details of the testing station.

It is helpful to the tester to take the registration document and previous test certificate with you to the test. This allows him to accurately record the car's details and check them and to note the previous mileage on the MOT certificate.

If the vehicle fails in any respect the tester will issue form VT30 which lists any and all faults found.

Most  garages also now issue a copy of their own check-list with both pass and fail certificates. This usually lists the tester's comments on the components tested either the reasons for the failure or, usefully any items which are nearing the end of their life and should be attended to.

Generally, if your car fails the test it must be brought up to standard and then fully re-tested with a full fee being paid again but, for some items, if repairs are carried out and the car is re-tested before the end of the following working day only those items which failed will be re-tested and no fee is payable.

There is an appeal procedure against the tester's failure of any vehicle and details will always be posted on the wall of the test station as will any decisions on earlier appeals. The MOT Inspection Manual has full details of the appeals procedure.


Article © Graham Benge 2007

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