VOSA, the Government agency behind MoTs, and system developer Siemens began installing the system in workshops in April with the aim of having all 19,000 MoT Testing Stations computerised by autumn.
However some of the 1,500 garages now connected are reporting major problems and delays. Last month, a system crash left many unable to complete testing for more than two hours.
The owner of one South-west garage of 40 years standing believes the faults could endanger the future of some workshops.
“It takes longer to do MoTs, the system is clunky, the helpline is hopeless and garages are being hurt,” he says. “It will end up with garages looking for other work. We’ve already got a problem with no youngsters coming into the industry and this won’t help.”
Others argue the computerised test, hoped to bring improvements in efficiency and security, uses antiquated technology which is actually taking longer to complete than the old paper-based system. Despite the availability of speedy Broadband online connectivity, testers are being equipped with PCs using slower dial-up systems for submitting MoT data online.
Jim Punter, chairman of the MoT Trade Forum, says: “I’m deeply concerned that it will be costing a lot of testers money, particularly at high throughput stations. I’m sure if it continues like this it will put some stations out of business.”
During a four-week computerization trial at his station, Punter’s Garage near Heathrow, he found the process so laborious he reverted to paper-based tests for 75% of his bookings.
VOSA admits high throughput MoT stations able to do the old test in 30 minutes will find computerisation slower, but its trials show the average MoT now takes 43 minutes, on a par with normal MoT stations’ paper tests.
“We’ve slowed the roll-out down to make sure garages can get the assistance needed,” says VOSA communications manager Simon Duffin. “We’re not just pressing on regardless.”
Ian Davis-Knight, head of technical operations at the RMI, says: “Garages must not be allowed to lose revenue because of an inadequate computer system unable to cope with the demands placed upon it.”