Three challenges facing MOT testers
Many automotive businesses rely on MOTs as a core source of income, but the sector is facing a host of tests. MotorPro looks at three areas where the industry has advisories against its name
Challenge 1: Electrification
As sales of EVs take off, MOT test centres will need to learn how to deal with these vehicles... ideally before they start rolling into workshops.
You may wonder what the issue is. After all, much of the MOT test should be the same regardless of the vehicle’s power source. EVs just don’t need to go through the normal emissions tests, right?
Well, it’s not just the MOT itself that’s the worry. Centre managers are responsible for the safety of staff, and working on any high-voltage EV or plug-in hybrid is a risk that needs to be considered. Staff will need to be trained appropriately to know how to handle these technologies safely. And under the current MOT regulations, garages are not allowed to refuse to test a vehicle just because individuals are uncertain about EV technology.
At the moment, just 5% of the workforce are qualified to work on EVs, according to Tom Denton FIMI, technical adviser to the IMI. “With the market running at around 5% EV sales, that sounds like an even spread, but the training is not distributed evenly, and any test centre could now see an EV,” he says. “The IMI’s advice is that everyone should complete Level 1 of the EV course. That’s all about the basics, including recognising that a vehicle is electric in the first place.”
From this April, the annual MOT training will include a section on EVs, which should help to get the ball rolling. Manufacturers have also gone to some lengths to design EV systems so that it’s obvious what’s high-voltage and what isn’t.
There will be EV-specific parts to the MOT test in future, such as checking high-voltage cables,” Denton predicts. “And high-voltage components are already being designed to be easily identifiable, with a bright orange outer casing and a yellow inner casing.”
If businesses want to continue testing vehicles as electrification goes mainstream, training will be crucial so that testers know what to expect when EVs start arriving in workshops.
Challenge 2: The skills gap
As in so many areas of the automotive industry, there’s a significant shortage of talent coming into the MOT sector. Without enough new testers rising through the ranks, businesses will become unsustainable.
The key is training young technicians to become testers, but there can be a reluctance to take on the responsibility. It’s a problem that needs addressing.
Thankfully, it needn’t be difficult. Here’s how to talk them around…
“IT’S TOO MUCH RESPONSIBILITY”
Technicians are already responsible for identifying defects during a service, rebuilding and resetting components, checking systems and returning the vehicle to the customer in a roadworthy state. That’s probably more work than an MOT tester would take on.
“THERE’S A BLAME CULTURE”
Customers may try and claim for an injury or loss that’s suffered after a vehicle is tested. However, a technician faces exactly the same risk (if not greater) after conducting a service.
MOT testing tends to limit your liabilities, as you don’t strip down individual components. For example, you’re not expected to check the inside of the rear brake drums. Instead, you’re only expected to make a visual assessment followed by a brake performance check.
Remember, becoming a tester should be seen as a positive. It’s an extra skill that will boost your career prospects.
Challenge 3: Annual assessments
Every MOT tester needs to complete annual training and an assessment if they want to continue testing. But every year businesses wait until the deadline is looming before getting staff to complete the task. Some even miss the deadline, losing that income stream completely.
It can be difficult. Everyone’s busy, and any downtime means a reduction in productivity and profitability. But if, like this year, there’s a change to the test criteria and you aren’t up to date, then you could be in for a shock.
In theory, it should be simple. Testers must complete at least three hours of training annually and at least 16 hours over a rolling five-year period. They must then successfully complete the annual assessment. The deadline for doing so is typically the end of March, but this year, due to COVID, it has been pushed back to the end of April.
Miss the deadline and the result is simple: your MOT testing account will be suspended. Every year too many firms fall foul of this.
The assessment is updated regularly. This year, the pass mark is 80%, and while the annual assessment still looks at the tester’s ability to pass the correct judgement on defects, additional criteria have been added by the DVSA to check testers’ ability to navigate the MOT Guide.
If MOT businesses want to keep testing, they need to stay on top of the DVSA’s training and assessment requirements. It doesn’t have to be a last-minute rush and it doesn’t have to hit productivity, but it does need to be worked into the schedule as soon as possible.