Police issue warning amid lockdown MOT confusion

MOT test is a “requirement”, officers say after issuing fixed penalty notice

DORSET Police has issued an urgent MOT warning to drivers amid confusion following last year’s six-month MOT extension.

In a post on Facebook, Dorset Police warned penalty notices would be issued to drivers without the right paperwork in place.

They said: “MOT, it is a requirement. It ensures your vehicle is in roadworthy condition.

“The car below did not have one. Fixed penalty issued.

“Given the weather, it is even more essential your vehicle is in good working order to keep you safe.

“We get a lot of calls from the public reporting people for not having a valid MOT certificate.

“Please bear in mind that between 30th March 2020 and 31st July 2020 drivers were given a six-month extension to their MOT certificates.

“Unsure as to whether your MOT is valid? Then please visit the www.gov.uk website.”

Despite DVSA clarification that MOT testing stations can remain open, some garage owners now fear a possible reintroduction of another MOT extension, a move which saw many workshops forced to close during the first lockdown last year – despite being granted permission to remain open.

The extension ended on August 1, 2020, and from this date drivers had to ensure their cars have valid MOT certification, prompting significant demand on MOT services in recent weeks.

The rules allowed an extension to MOT expiry dates from the end of March 2020.

An extension was not granted for MOTs during the second lockdown and is unlikely to be granted for the latest national lockdown.

The latest guidance states that “vehicle repair and MOT services” in England and Scotland can remain open.

Garages in Wales, which remains at ‘alert level four’, can also remain open.

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Over 250 techs attend first REPXPERT ‘tea-break training’ session of 2021

Popular online training programme continues after January’s first topic attracted numbers beyond expectations

Picking up where it left off in 2020, Schaeffler’s REPXPERT technical training team began 2021 with its latest online training module, entitled ‘What’s Hot in Cooling’.

Following the now tried and tested format of a short presentation followed by a Q&A session, attendees were first introduced to the technical team before a comprehensive overview of water pump and coolant technology.

This was followed by plenty of best practice advice, including the essential tools needed when carrying out cooling system checks or repairs.

The lively Q&As to close were enjoyed by the 200 plus attendees that took part across the three sessions.

Schaeffler technical manager and REPXPERT, Alistair Mason said: “It was obvious from when we touched on the subject during the first event in December, that cooling was an area that was going to prove popular but the overall numbers exceeded even our expectations.

“It takes a great deal of time and effort by the REPXPERT team to pull these sessions together, from those presenting and those researching the subjects, as well as our digital team that ensures attendees are invited and can access via Zoom.

“It was great to see the appetite for high quality training is as strong as ever and that the feedback we receive is so positive.”

The next cooling related module is ‘Switch on the Heat’, which is to be held on Tuesday 9 February at 12:30 and Wednesday 10 February at 12:30 and 18:30, followed by module three ‘Managing the Heat’, on Tuesday 16 March at 12:30 and Wednesday 17 March at 12:30 and 18:30.

Supplementing the cooling programme, the REPXPERT team is also addressing the vital subject of clutch technology, with a focus on dual mass flywheels, with three modules also running in January, February and March respectively.

Module one ‘Movin’ with the Times’, will take place on Tuesday 26 January at 12:30 and Wednesday 27 at 12:30 and 18:30, module two ‘Customer Challenges’ on Tuesday 23 February and Wednesday 24 at 12:30 and 18:30 and finally, module three ‘Technology on the Horizon’ on Tuesday 30 March at 12:30 and Wednesday 31 at 12:30 & 18:30.

Information on all future tea-break training sessions will appear first on the REPXPERT website.

For further information and to register your place on the next session, entitled ‘Movin’ with the times’, please click here.

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DVSA to stop issuing new MOT security cards from mid-February

New smartphone app will generate six-digit code each time a user signs into the MOT testing service

The DVSA is to stop issuing new and replacement MOT security cards from mid-February when they will be replaced with a new smartphone app in a bid to further improve MOT security.

The new app will generate a six-digit code which will allows access to the MOT testing service with a single authentication a day.

Chris Price, head of MOT policy at the DVSA said: “From mid-February 2021, you will be able to log into MTS using an authentication app on your smartphone.

“Once the app is set up, you only need to authenticate once a day, which will make it easier to access MTS.

“The system will remember certain details when the authentication takes place.

“If any of these change, the system prompts you to authenticate again, much like a bank does.

“So, if you change site location, such as visiting another garage, the system will prompt you to authenticate again.”

Users will still be able to sign in via email or by using their existing security card, as long as the card is still working.

Once a user sets up the app it will replace their security card and will only be able to login via the app or through their email.

Chris added: “Only having to authenticate once a day using the app or email will make accessing MTS quicker.

“Plus, new users won’t have to wait for a card before they can access the service.

“When we spoke to testers about the changes, over half of them told us their preferred security method is to use an app.”

Users will be prompted to download and install the new authentication app from mid-February.

Automotive consultancy, Fourmative has welcomed the “long-anticipated update”.

A Fourmative spokesperson said: “Fourmative receive calls every week about lost or damaged security cards.

“This presents significant issue for testers, even with the use of questions to access MOT system, add to this the frustration of entering a new code every time they access the system if it has timed-out.”

MOT security cards were rolled out in 2016 to replace a PIN system.

Many testers raised early concerns about the cards with predictions of card failure and loss.

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Top five causes of steering and suspension component failure

BG Automotive outlines some of the most common causes of damage

Supplier of OE quality aftermarket parts and components, BG Automotive has revealed what it deems to be the top five causes of steering and suspension component failure.

1. Normal wear

Suspension components are exposed to constant stress – parts subjected to stress are prone to wear out.

This is one of the most common causes why some parts, like control arms, ball joints, and bushings fail and need to be replaced.

There is no exact lifespan for steering and suspension parts; the main factors that come into place are the conditions the vehicle is driven in, and how many bumps the components have to endure.

Not every vehicle is driven by the same person or on the same roads.

However, fair estimations can be made by manufacturers to determine the lifespan of the parts.

Always choose a reputable supplier with quality standards adhering to at least OE standards to ensure longevity.

2. Premature wear

Misuse of a vehicle can cause premature wear out of its parts.

Its suspension and steering parts are not exempt from that.

While driving over large potholes or bumps, control arms can bend or break, and control arms bushings can wear out prematurely.

A vehicle used on rough roads will create more friction between the ball studs and bearings causing increased friction and accelerated wear.

Bushings and strut mounts wear out prematurely when they are mistreated; for example: when a vehicle that wasn’t designed for off-road use is used off-road, when a standard car is taken to do fast laps in a circuit, or when it has been fitted with larger aftermarket rims with low profile tires.

This kind of rim and tire combination transfers more vibrations to the bushings because these tires absorb fewer shocks from the road and add extra load to the bushes and other suspension components.

Bushes wear out faster in hot climates and are also sensitive to engine fluids such as oil.

An engine leaking oil will damage the car’s bushings if the oil remains on them for a long time.

They are also damaged by exposure to transmission fluid.

3. Corrosion

Corrosion is an enemy of metallic parts.

Exposure of suspension parts to road splash and salt over time can cause rust corrosion if the metal has not been treated correctly by the manufacturer.

Every metallic part on the track control arms, ball joints, stabilizer links, bushes, strut mounts, and tie rod ends are constantly exposed to corrosion.

These parts, being vital for vehicle safety, need to be replaced if excessive corrosion is shown in any of their parts.

When it’s time to replace any of these components, it’s always a good practice to do it with replacement parts that have been treated to be corrosion resistant.

Metallic parts treated with cataphoresis coatings or corrosion protection plating are always preferred, and in the long run, will provide better results than parts poorly treated or untreated.

4. Poorly installed parts

Poorly installed suspension parts can cause steering and suspension components to fail.

For example, an improperly installed bush can cause a control arm to perform poorly, also having repercussions on other suspension components.

Another example could be improper torquing of a ball joint.

This may break the joint stud and damage the steering knuckle.

If it were too loose, the ball joint would wear out prematurely and would need an unnecessary replacement. Suspension and steering parts work as a whole and if a single part is misplaced, it is highly likely to damage the rest.

5. Accident damage

Steering and suspension parts need to be checked after an accident.

It’s advisable to check for bent control arms after a front or side impact at the level of the wheels.

Another common reason for control arm replacements is improper towing of the vehicle.

Some negligent tow truck operators latch their towing truck hooks to the control arms, bending them.

For further information, please click here.

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MG5 EV owners told not to use roof rack over fears it could be for decoration only

Carmaker unable to confirm if factory-fitted roof rails are safe for use

Owners of the new MG5 EV have been left baffled after marketing brochure which claimed its roof could hold up to 50kg of weight was found to conflict with the owners manual which describes the rack as “a non-load-bearing roof rack”.

Which? has called on the car firm to “urgently clarify” whether the roof rails fitted to MG5 EVs from factory can be used.

The manual reads: “The roof luggage rack is a non-load-bearing roof rack, which is used as a decoration.

“Do not place any load on the roof luggage rack, otherwise it may result in an accident or damage to the vehicle.”

Which? member Les Burrows placed an order for the new MG5 EV at the start of November but he was “taken aback” just a few days after placing the order when he found out the rack may be for decoration only.

Natalie Hitchens, head of home products and services at Which? said: “MG must urgently clarify if the roof rails on its cars can be used.

“If the roof rails are purely decorative and can’t bear any load, we’d expect MG to immediately inform customers, recall this model and remove the rails.”

In a statement issued to Express.co.uk, MG said it was still unsure whether the roof racks could carry weight.

The statement said: “As a vehicle importer we take the safety of our cars and our customers very seriously.

“With MG5 EV, we initially believed that the car was approved to carry weight on its roof, but we have since become aware of some missing engineering data meaning that we are – at present – unable to confirm this, so have taken the safest possible action of advising our customers not to carry a load on the roof until we can confirm otherwise.

“We have already carried out testing with mass being carried on the car’s roof rails and have seen satisfactory results but are awaiting the final confirmation from durability testing that is still ongoing.

“It is our belief and we hope to be able to confirm very shortly that there is no concern with carrying weight on the car’s roof.

“But until we have satisfactorily validated this we do not wish to confirm it.”

MG confirmed owners of the affected model will be given access to a new model as a goodwill gesture.

They said: “In the meantime, while this approval process concludes, we are happy to allow MG5 EV customers use of our ZS EV electric model free of charge and as a gesture of goodwill if they need to carry a roof load on their vehicle and they should contact their supplying dealer to arrange this.

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ADAS training needed to ensure it’s not a hazard, road safety charity warns

Advanced driver assistance systems are dangerous unless used correctly but awareness remains low

Vehicle manufacturers, dealerships, DVSA and driving instructors should include a comprehensive lesson for motorists on how to use advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) so they are a road safety benefit and not a potential hazard, by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

The urgent call has been made following the publication of a highly influential report by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) entitled ‘How to maximize the road safety benefits of ADAS’.

Some of the most widely known ADAS – many of which will become mandatory in new vehicles from July 2022 – include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking systems, lane keeping assist and driver monitoring for drowsiness and distraction recognition.

However, awareness and understanding of these systems is generally low among drivers.

The FIA’s report finds that most users do not receive any training when first encountering ADAS but have to rely on information from the user manual, and most alarmingly by applying a ‘trial-and-error’ method.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Advanced driver assistance systems have the potential to improve road safety, but only if used correctly.

“If used incorrectly, not least without a full understanding of what the systems are and are not capable of, they can have the opposite effect, with potentially worrying consequences for all road users.

“IAM RoadSmart therefore believes the time has now come to include a comprehensive lesson from every car dealer supplying vehicles and further, for more about ADAS to be included in the UK driving test.

“This is crucial as these tools begin to be supplied as standard on an increasing number of vehicles.”

Meanwhile, further recommendations from the FIA report, which IAM RoadSmart endorses, include a comprehensive explanation to end-users of the systems’ limitations, more consistently accurate functioning of ADAS in practice and the introduction of fail-safe communications to alert users if any of the systems fail, helping to mitigate any potential road safety risk.

Neil added: “There needs to be a much higher emphasis on educating drivers in the best use of technology. Vehicle manufacturers and car dealerships are key, ensuring that when a customer drives off the forecourt they understand and use the various safety systems correctly.

“Until this becomes the norm, IAM RoadSmart is exploring the potential for video tutorials that will plug the current gap.”

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Valeo to reveal top five causes of a leaking concentric slave cylinder in webinar

Live training to cover best practices to avoid warranty related problems

Valeo is set to host a webinar to reveal the top five causes of concentric slave cylinder (CSC) failure on January 27, 2021.

Starting at 10am, the 15-minute training session provides an overview to the many different CSC technologies, fitting methods and tools available.

A Valeo spokesperson said: “As it can be a time consuming, and therefore cost consuming job, it’s important that no fitting errors are made.

“In this webinar we look at how to avoid making the most common fitting error and the best fitment practices when it comes to fitting a clutch concentric slave cylinder and reveal the top causes of easy to avoid CSC failures.”

Webinar veiwers will gain an understanding of the advantages of a concentric slave cylinder over conventional clutch release components and the common causes of failure as seen by Valeo.

Best practices for fitting a concentric slave cylinder to avoid warranty-related problems will also be covered.

The webinar is ideal for motor factors and garages to gain an understanding of how a hydraulic system operates, the make up of each type of system and the latest innovations currently being utilised.

It will also be available to watch on demand one hour after the live session.

Attendees will be in with a chance of winning a Lifestyle Voucher to use in over 120 shops.

For further information click here

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Current lockdown car use at similar levels to May 2020

Eight per cent more breakdowns handled over first four days of January compared to same period in previous years

Car use by drivers in the UK has not fallen to the same extent as it did during the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, analysis of RAC data suggests.

RAC patrols had their busiest start to a New Year on record with eight more breakdowns handled over the first four days of January compared to the same period in previous years.

While the cold weather and the fact cars were used even less than normal over Christmas as a result of the coronavirus will both have been major factors, the data confirms that drivers are still deeming it necessary to use their vehicles for essential trips in 2021.

During the first week of the latest lockdown, data from RAC Black Box Insurance customers shows there were on average ten per cent more cars in daily use than during the first week of March’s lockdown, leading to 31 per cent more daily miles driven.

This represents a 22 per cent reduction in car use compared to normal.

RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Despite the whole of the UK now under a further coronavirus lockdown, our data shows the number of cars in use has not dropped to the same extent it did the first time restrictions were brought in last March.

“The feel of this latest nationwide lockdown is very different to that which was first imposed in 2020 with greater numbers of people working in ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces, more shops offering click-and-collect services, and more children of keyworkers attending schools.

“In addition, with so many avoiding public transport, there will inevitably be far more people opting for the safer environment of the car.

“Together, these differences help account for the busier roads.”

The RAC believes traffic volumes are now at a similar level to the middle of last May, which interestingly was the point restrictions first started to be eased, with people encouraged to return to workplaces if they were unable to work from home.

According to RAC data, the quietest week for traffic since the start of the pandemic was the second week of the first coronavirus lockdown, with a 41 per cent reduction in car usage compared to normal.

This contrasts with the first full week of September when the RAC recorded its highest levels of car use of the year as schools in England returned after the summer holidays, with traffic back to normal levels.

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Next REPXPERT live ‘tea-break training’ event dates confirmed

LuK training to cover latest clutch technology later this month

Schaeffler’s REPXPERT technical training team has confirmed its schedule for its programme of live ‘tea-break training’ sessions.

The next session, entitled ‘Movin’ with the times’, will cover new and upcoming clutch technology, including dual mass flywheels, and is to be held on 26 January and again on 27 January.

The events are proving extremely popular with workshop professionals and, with limited space, technicians are advised to register early.

Module two in the series of INA training sessions on cooling systems will follow a couple of weeks later, 9 and 10 February.

Senior REPXPERT and Schaeffler technical manager, Alistair Mason, said: “Each module should take around 20 minutes, including time for a quick Q&A.

“The idea is that technicians can learn something extremely useful during the time it normally takes to make a brew and take a quick break from the workshop.”

Registration links are available on the REPXPERT website, as well as via social media posts and newsletters sent to members plus anybody who has attended a Schaeffler REPXPERT Academy or any other Schaeffler training event.

For further information and to register your place, click here

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Illegal tyres common on UK roads, data shows

One in four drivers on the roads with a defective tyre

Tyre failure rates increased by up to three per cent between 2019 and 2020 despite fewer journeys being made on Britain’s locked down roads, new data analysis suggests.

Up to 8.5 million motorists could be driving with illegal tyres, data from Evans Halshaw shows.

Analysing almost 400,000 car services over the past 21 months, Evans Halshaw has revealed on average 26 per cent of UK motorists fail with an illegal tyre.

Stockport was found to have the highest tyre failure rate in the UK with almost 40 per cent of all drivers suffering from tyre-related issues.

Bury was found to have the second-highest rate with almost 37 per cent of all road users suffering critical tyre safety issues.

Michael Hunt, group head of Aftersales at Evans Halshaw said: “Our study has demonstrated just how common illegal tyres are in the UK.

“Revealing that one in four drivers are potentially on the roads with a safety-critical tyre each day.

“In particular, residents in the North West of England should check their tyres regularly as locations in this region feature dominantly in the top 10 places with the highest failure rates.

“The data also highlights the importance of inspecting your vehicle on a regular basis.”

Mr Hunt urged drivers to book in their car for “regular health checks” to minimise safety concerns.

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