Brake test blues

Car wheel

In this article: Make sure you don’t set yourself up for a fall when testing brakes, and keep out of trouble by sticking to retest requirements

Brake tests are simple, right? A low mileage four-year old car fails its MOT because its brake pads are below the minimum 1.5mm. The garage contacts the owner and he agrees to have a set of new pads fitted, plus a couple of new brake discs for good measure.

The parts are fitted, but they need bedding in. Not a problem, most garages will conduct a gentle road test to ensure the new brakes work properly.

But now comes the conundrum; do you simply enter a retest as a mechanical brake part, and not conduct and enter a fresh set of brake performance results? This is where MOT testers need to tread carefully because you may be leaving an audit trail that could come back and haunt you depending on what choice you make.

Test logs record what type of brake test you did, so, for the initial test, you might have a Roller Brake Test recorded against that test number, but if you failed to do another brake test during the retest, the words “Unknown” will be recorded.

It’s a simple choice, there isn’t one

The tester’s manual clearly states that “When carrying out a partial retest you must examine: all the previously failed item(s), any item(s) that may have been affected by the repairs and any minor defect or item advised on at the time of the initial test. If during a retest it’s clear that the vehicle has any major or dangerous defects, you must issue a new VT30.”

It’s the second one that gets us here. “Any items that may have been affected by the repairs”. Changing the brake pads means there’s a different set of friction surfaces from those tested originally. It would be hard to argue the repairs could not affected the test results. Also, occasionally, we have a brake calliper that becomes defective, perhaps sticking for example, after pads have been fitted.

You need to get things right otherwise there’s a risk of getting in trouble with the DVSA and receiving penalty points, something no one wants against their name. As the MOT Testing Guide states: “penalty points will… …be awarded for shortcomings in those parts of the test that you were required to do (excluding non-testable advisories).”

So when retesting vehicles, make sure you follow the rules and don’t be tempted to take shortcuts. It’s in your own interests as well as the customer’s.