Checks highlight car service failings

MOTORISTS in Suffolk have been warned they could be spending thousands of pounds on bogus MOTs and services after undercover checks at a number of garages highlighted serious safety concerns.

MOTORISTS in Suffolk have been warned they could be spending thousands of pounds on bogus MOTs and services after undercover checks at a number of garages highlighted serious safety concerns.

Over the last two weeks trading standards officers have taken cars to mechanics across the county to investigate the quality of examination they provide.

Officials said none of the 11 garages targeted identified all of the problems which should have been picked up in the service and pre-MOT checks.

According to trading standards officers, a few identified the main safety problems but missed some of the less serious issues.


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A small number failed to pick out the most severe problems - including bald tyres, broken brake lights, worn-out brake pads and oil leaks.

Other problems not highlighted included low power steering fluid levels, faulty indicator and fog lights, low battery levels, a flat spare tyre, faulty wiper blades and a corroded brake pipe.

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In one instance £160 was paid for a service but no break-down was provided of what was actually checked and in another a spark plug was cross-threaded which resulted in the car breaking down.

Jill Korwin, assistant county trading standards officer, said: “It is unacceptable for garages not to pick up problems with cars they check.

“Consumers take their cars to a garage to get an 'expert' to identify any safety issues with their car. If garages are unable to provide this service, they are ripping off consumers and potentially putting lives at risk.”

Mrs Korwin said one garage was now the subject of a further investigation following the trading standard checks.

She continued: “This operation was driven by complaints we received from members of the public. I would urge anyone with similar concerns to contact our consumer helpline.”

Before the cars were taken for their check-up, an independent vehicle examiner identified faults which should have been picked up.

Following the checks the cars were looked at again to see if all the faults had been identified.

A spokesman from the AA Motoring Trust said rogue mechanics had been a recurring issue for a number of years but it was often a difficult area to police.

He said: “Findings like these are an all too common story I'm afraid. However, a lot of the problem is how we can go about trying to sort it out.

“Quite a lot of the time you discover that you end up going in a circle because whatever you do to try and improve quality invariably drives up the price so your average motorist will go and find a cheaper alternative, where they might not do a thorough job.”

A spokesman for the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) said the organisation did not condone garages that failed to carry out repairs properly or without sufficient care and attention.

He said: “All members of the RMIF agree to uphold a Code of Practice. Should a consumer have a problem with an RMIF member they have a point of redress through a free conciliation and arbitration service.

“Any member found to be in breach of the code will be investigated and if necessary expelled from the Federation.”

Anyone with concerns about a garage can contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

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