DVSA are once again undertaking regular Site Reviews, so we should all monitor our level of compliance. It has become evident that many VTS’s are using procedures that fit into their ‘company’ systems, which are not necessarily the DVSA’s. Probably the best cure is to remember the old adage,

‘When you are testing you are working for the DVSA.’

This tip used to be given to testers, but now more than ever it should be applied to the whole VTS operation. In many stations the designated area has also become the place to take a car for suspension checks, brake test and emission testing. This is a very dangerous practice.

MTS is becoming more and more a monitoring system that can throw up statistics that MAY indicate poor adhesion to DVSA standards and bad practices. Frequently now test times that vary from 10 minutes to 14 hours are seen by DVSA as indicative of combining testing with other jobs such as VHC checks and servicing. The Vehicle Examiner will pick up examples of this, sit outside a VTS awaiting a test to be logged on and then enter the premises and lo and behold no vehicle in the designated area! The vehicle is then found to be on a service ramp, possibly with all the wheels off – but logged on to MTS. This can create long test times as the tester forgets he is logged on or thinks that nobody is monitoring it, undertaking all the jobs required on the job card. Eventually, a decision is made to test the brakes and emissions and then log off. Alternatively, the tester only logs on when he is ready to do the brakes and emissions. The outcome in the first case an unreasonably long test and the latter an impossible short one.

Voices can be heard shouting “Everything was checked.” Unfortunately, experience shows this not to be the case. Historically the following standards were repeatedly quoted:

•      Do not disturb the tester when he is on a test.

•      Testers should establish a routine and stick to it.

•      The tester should not leave the designated area once logged on.

All the above can mean the testers concentration is broken and without a routine it is easy to forget where and what was last item tested after a disruption. A routine is suggested in the Inspection Manual. Whilst it does say that this can be organised to suit the individual, what it is actually saying is that a routine must be used to ensure all items are tested.

A VE has said that they believe many omissions on vehicle presented with induced faults are caused by lack of routine. Testers leave a vehicle for whatever reason and return not knowing where they left off. Additionally, not expecting the induced faults because they would not normally expect them on a vehicle of that marque/age/mileage.

This is also relevant to the latest problem the industry is suffering from, incorrect registrations being  logged onto MTS. If a routine is in place, the tester goes to bring the car into the designated area, gets out and takes the VIN and VRN detail from the vehicle and logs onto the system. Without the routine, the car is parked in the service bay and the job card is taken to the designated area to log on, here the error begins.

Our advice is that if you return to basics and stick rigidly to your routine, the chances of making errors that bring disciplinary action from DVSA will be drastically reduced. Remember that the MTS system allows your local VE to see statistics that indicate malpractice and provide a basis for investigation. Short times can be seen as a test where the car has never attended the VTS, performed by a tester on his Smart Phone. It is essential that these do not get confused with a tester that is trying to organise his work to suit himself or even his company.

As a guide DVSA agree that on a 3-5 year old car a test can be completed in 30 minutes and upwards, above 5 years, 45 minutes is acceptable, and older cars as long as it takes; but all three only if all items are assessed. The safest way to make sure is to stick to your routine.

If you have any queries on this matter please do not hesitate to contact enquiries@themotclub.com or call John Ashton on 01934 421335.