/ Motoring

Warning lights on? Your car will fail its MOT test

New tougher MOT rules will require your car dashboard’s warning lights to be working. If they don’t, your car will fail its MOT test. Is this a much needed safety improvement or a route to more rip offs?

The MOT test now includes a ‘Malfunction Indicator Lamp’ check. This requires the examiner to visually check that warning lights for electronic stability control, safety restraint systems, anti-lock braking systems and tyre pressure monitoring systems are not permanently illuminated.

The requirement came into effect on 1 January to comply with a revised European testing directive. It will be highlighted as an ‘advisory’ item only until 31 March, but from 1 April onwards, vehicles will fail an MOT if these lights are illuminated.

It’s just a visual check – so doesn’t require any diagnostic equipment to evaluate the actual cause of the light being on, but you can bet your bottom dollar the garage will charge you to investigate why a light is on (it will scan the system for a fault code, pointing to the cause).

The risk of rogue warning lights

When I recently asked my Renault dealer to investigate a warning light, the first thing they said was that there would be a £45 charge for a diagnostic check, then additional rectification costs depending on what that revealed.

My ‘fault’ was a service warning to check the handbrake (not covered by the new MOT rules as far as I can tell) which came on after the battery was disconnected.

As an ex-mechanic, I checked the physical components of the handbrake and there wasn’t an actual handbrake fault. In my view, it was simply a rogue indication because of the loss of power to the system. But to find that out for sure, I have to stump up £45, without even thinking of any consequential costs.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that these lights are important – and if functioning correctly, they can let you know of a genuine safety risk.

So it seems sensible to make these an advisory notice. But, to me, the idea that they constitute an automatic MOT failure (without a proper investigation) leaves motorists open to being charged extra, perhaps simply because modern electronic systems are still too quirky and can display rogue signals from time to time. Would your car pass these new MOT rules?

Comments
Dave Stewart says:
21 January 2012

I have a Peugeot 307 HDi with a depollution fault warning light on for the last 2 years.My Peugeot dealer has analysed the fault as a code but could offer no solution. It passed its MOT ok despite this fault light.
Will it fail the new MOT?
Any comments welcome.

I cannot answer your question but this problem is often caused by failure of a sensor. From what I have read, problems are not always diagnosed correctly and it might be worth getting a second opinion.

Jon Tremlett says:
22 January 2012

Faulty icon lights are nothing other than just warnings, once you have established that the water/oil level, is not low or that a door is not indeed open, then it is safe to continue without concern, resetting the dashboard is a matter of minutes with a laptop for all modern cars, it should not cost as much as £45, or be an MOT fail, so long as the actual warning is a false alarm. My TX4 taxi has a wealth of warning icons, that flash on and off and I know whether to ignore them or not within seconds. It sounds like another garage con, akin to the thickness or wear of brake discs, which are problems that garages warn about (whilst sucking their teeth) but are rarely to be of real concern

David Elwyn says:
23 January 2012

Jeremy Noles commented “So I have a ‘Check brake pads’ warning indication that is always-on in my 12 year old Seat, even when the brake pads are brand new and of the correct type i.e. that would trigger the dashboard indication if they *were* low. More than one garage, including a Seat main dealer, have confirmed this is an electronics fault somewhere and would cost upwards of £200 to fix this ‘non fault’. All it means is I have to check the pads myself regularly, as I always used to do on older cars without such a helpful ‘feature’, or get them checked by a garage at annual service time and at other times.

I am unclear, would this be an automatic fail under the new regs? It is not ABS related, just (supposedly) brake pads related.”

I too have the same warning on my 6 year old Seat Alhambra, the Seat main dealer advised me that the pads were fine (30% wear) and that it was, probably, a problem with the sensors in the pads, which hopefully would go away when the pads need to be replaced. As far as I can see from the VOSA website “Brakes: Condition including inappropriate repairs or modifications, operation and performance (efficiency test). Note the removal of the road wheels and trims are not part of the test. ABS or electronic stability control (ESC) where fitted. Check of the MIL for ABS, electronic stability control, electronic park brake and brake fluid warning.” this particular warning light would not be a failure.

However it does concern me greatly that a car could fail an MOT on the basis of a single warning light for which there is no guarantee that it is working correctly or that it can actually be resolved satisfactorily, even when taken to a main dealer, especially if the ‘problem’ that it is warning about has been checked and found to be satisfactory, but not by the MOT test station. I can imagine that this will result in an increase in the number of appeals against MOT failures.

Mark O'Sullivan says:
24 January 2012

When I joined the Department of Transport’s Road Safety Vehicle Testing Division in 1974 as an administration trainee, I remember hours spent holding the ring between the economists and the vehicle engineers. The economists pointed to the huge economic cost to the nation of increasing the length of the MOT test beyond the then-current twelve minutes, and the research showing that only 2% to 5% of accidents were caused by vehicle faults (and most of those by tyre inflation problems); and in those days, when the decision went up to Ministers, it was the economists who always won.

Whether because the vehicle engineers move around less than the economists and have a gritty determination, or because engineers have more authority in Germany and France and we are driven by European directive these days, the picture has been transformed since 1974. Even as the rate of road accidents has fallen dramatically, we have acquired a hugely burdensome MOT test which does no good except for the garage industry. It is time someone took it in hand.

MOT TESTER says:
24 January 2012

Firstly there is NO official confirmation of 1st April date of implementation as parliament still have to pass the changes requested by DfT which VOSA advise will be “sometime in spring” Your picture shows a typical Engine Management MIL and there has been no indication from VOSA that this light being illuminated in itself as a RfR (reason for refusal of a test certificate) the vehicle will have to pass an emissions as as before. As you say you are an ex-mechanic I find it odd that you seem surprised that a garage would want to charge to find out the cause of the problem? Would you be surprised at a plumber or electrician wanting to charge for finding a fault in their fields of work, and at much higher rates. I think you should also make it clear that MOT tests are carried out on behalf of VOSA and many test stations do not carry out repairs and the purpose of the test is not to diagnose faults merely to report them within the framework of the test regs. How long would your MOT test take if all faults had to be investigated and diagnosed and this would have to be ALL faults mechanical & electrical? The test regs specifically state that NO dismantling or additional work is permitted during the test other than headlamp alignment adjustments. In any case the new test regs came from the EU and if they had not been implemented the UK would have been fined on a daily basis, the way your article is written almost suggests that garages devised the test! Finally tyre pressure monitoring systems are only testable on cars produced from 01/01/2012 and indication of a puncture is not an RfR only a fault in the system.

David C Jones says:
1 February 2012

I have had the anti-pollution box removed from my Citreon C5 removed as I could not get the anti pollution light to go off, despite carrying out the dealers recommendations of regeneration, ie travelling at 15/30 miles at above 200 revs, the light still stayed on and the dealer wanted over £1300 to replace the box, which is criminal as all the box does is collect soot and then supposedly burn it off in the regeneration process. Would the fact that thelight is still on and im desperatly trying to get it off constitute a failure. The cat is still in place.

Thanks for any answers in advance

This latest avenue to rip off the motorist is nothing short of disgraceful. It clearly hasn’t been thought out by the powers that be and as usual will only lead to diverse avoidance tactics which will lead to either more dangerous cars being on the roads or more people driving with fake MOT’s or none at all. (The new certificate is now easily forged thanks to it being nothing more than an A4 sheet of white paper printed out that unless it’s barcode is checked by officials will simply look to be genuine. Warning lights come in an array of basic, medium and high risk categories and as such need to be banded like that if they are going to be considered an MOT checklist item. We regularily get cars come in to us as p/x that are lit up like a christmas tree on the dash! However, they are perfectly safe and driveable road legal cars. For example, a car that has an EML lit (engine management) can mean an array of things, none of which are dangerous to other road users. The clue here is in the colour of the light (normally amber) which means, its a problem but not a terminal/serious one. A red coloured ABS light means more serious a problem and this would be something that would require investigation. However, its not at all uncommon for that light to come on as a result of dust on the sensor, loss of battery power or a period of inactivity for the vehicle. I could go on forever….the point is, warning lights are just that, A WARNING! They are there to advise you to check something out and are not essentially linked to your car being unsafe for public highways. Diagnostic charges by garages are outrageous in most instances, this is because all car manufacturers use their own ECU ‘language’ and therefore differing levels of equipment are required to read certain codes and discover what they mean. Much of this equipment is hugely expensive and will take many uses before a recouperation of outlay can be achieved by the garage. If warning lights are MOT failures, then car manufacturers should be forced to all use the SAME ecu language so that one ODB interface can be used by a garage to read fault codes. If this were the case, then the fualt code service would be straightforward and inexpensive, probably even free. Once again, we see that differing manufacturing standards and practice have given rise to a problem and once again the government have latched onto it as a profitability scheme. Many useable cars will be scrapped because of this and many more will be driving around with bogus or no MOT altogther you wait and see!

streaky says:
10 September 2012

“Diagnostic charges by garages are outrageous in most instances, this is because all car manufacturers use their own ECU ‘language’ and therefore differing levels of equipment are required to read certain codes and discover what they mean. Much of this equipment is hugely expensive and will take many uses before a recouperation of outlay can be achieved by the garage”

Complete nonsense. There’s like 3 standards and in any given market you’re only likely to ever see one – that and there are global standardization efforts underway (via ISO 14230 et al). Frankly the best way to do it is to simply get a laptop and let the software do the work. It’s not some complicated thing – and there’s no encryption. If garages are overpaying for this stuff the blame lies 95% with them.

Response Diagnostics says:
24 February 2012

I am an Autoelectrician specialising in electronic fault diagnosis and after reading the comments here I have to make these points:-
Accidents and injuries have fallen significantly in the last 20 or so years, this is not due to improvements in driving standards or the ever decreasing speed limits imposed on us. It is due mainly to improvements in car dynamics and handling. It is electronic aids such as ABS and DSC (dynamic stability control) that allow the car to do what the driver demands even in difficult road conditions, then when things go really wrong SRS systems save lives in the accidents that happen when even clever electronics cannot save the driver from his own stupidity. This comes at a cost Cars are completely different under the skin now compared to 20 years ago. These complex systems can be difficult and expensive to diagnose, especially as the many computers talk to each other, meaning many systems have to be examined to get to the bottom of the problem on a “what went wrong first” basis.
Despite comments to the contrary a driver cannot tell what is wrong with his car by driving it (not even a really good driver) let alone the ones who are unable to detect a problem with their car until it refuses to move.
The additional checks are only there for the safety system warning lamps not all warning lamps as far as I am aware.
These warning lights are there to inform the driver one of the systems has detected a problem. If a safety system warning light is on then it will be operating either in a reduced protection mode or not at all, end of , no ifs, no buts.
Why people insist on believing the systems are full of bogus problems defies belief. There are some occasions when codes are falsely set (emissions problems mainly, due to manufacturers setting limits too tightly) but most warning light events are genuine and should be treated as such. Also if the warning light is on for a “trivial” fault how is the driver to know when a “serious” fault occurs?
I have 34 years professional experience in electronic fault finding, I have invested many thousands of pounds in diagnostic equipment and tools and yet there are comments on here saying I should provide my service “for free”. I am good at what I do and charge for it, I call this “earning a living”, I have children, they need to eat, sleep in a warm bed and be shod like everybody else’s children.
If your garage is unable to get to the bottom of your problem or tell you it is a “spurious code” then go to a diagnostic expert (like myself 😉 ) as they are possibly out of their depth. Don’t be too hard on them, when they were at College learning “clutches and gearboxes” I was learning electronics and “industrial control and servomechanisms”. It’s a different world.
How many of you have had a garage replace a sensor because “the computer says so”, I will almost never replace a part until I have confirmed the fault by another means, either by testing it or checking live data etc. Yes this takes time but it is the only way to make a repair without fitting many costly and unnecessary parts.
On the subject of OBD, this protocol is only mandatory to support emissions related data, some OBD scanners and cars give more functionality than that but it is very much a bonus. To give better coverage try spending £4-5k on a machine, I have several.
If you think I am ripping people off, I drive a 12 year old Discovery (which I also use to recover cars) and recently had to re-mortgage my house to cover business debts that have built up over the last couple of difficult years. No yacht, no villa in the Algarve, sorry.

i am a mot tester and have been for twenty year we don’t make the rules we only carry out instruction with knowledge we have earned. anyone who thinks a mechanic just plugs in a computer and fits a part is living in a dream we all hope will come true its a nightmare tools are a fortune and information also cost. we all do our best for little reward people should be more aware of wot garages are trying to help and wot garages are taking the pxss take the time to talk to your mechanic and help him with your problem remember its now his or her problem to.

Personally I think cars are getting far too sophisticated for their own good (and the users).

I will repeat something I said earlier in the convo to both @Response Diagnostics and @kev;

If I was driving a vehicle which did not have all the niceties (or damnations) of the current vehicles AKA there was NO ABS, NO DSC, no Airbag warning etc, only oil pressure then why should this vehicle pass MOT and a modern vehicle with all sorts of lights illuminated fail?

It is no more than a rip-off of the driver when they have to pay for remedial action at an exorbitant cost. I appreciate that the technology you have invested in is expensive, however, that is NOT my problem it is yours, especially the equipment, you have decided that you want to be able to offer the service and thus have decided it is worth purchasing the necessary hardware, why didn’t you refuse to pay the exorbitant prices requested by the suppliers of the diagnostic equipment?

I know you had no choice (paraphrasing your likely answer), but you did, as you made the decision to purchase, it was a choice you made to enable you to start a business but to make money you need to think about ROI and at prices that are exorbitant the ROI is poor as you have already indicated.

I for one will be looking to find a Morris 1000 Traveller with a crank start handle, this was a very basic but reliable vehicle used in my younger driving years no flashy lights to distract the driver (or MOT inspector).

I call on Which to fight this imposition on the driving population who already contribute far more taxation to the coffers of the exchequer than any revenue likely to be gained from an EU inspired piece of crap legislation.

Response Diagnostics says:
26 February 2012

@David Ramsay, I can’t disagree with you that cars are now too sophisticated for their own good. However the world is not going to move backwards for you, like it or not. I wish I had a pound for every time somone said “Good old Morris minor” in this context, I could give up work. To be quite blunt, by modern standards they were cr@p. By comparison a Peugeot 206 is about ten times more reliable despite being about a hundred times more complex. You could happily undertake a 400 mile journey in almost total confidence in a modern car but a forty mile journey in a Minor would have you wondering the whole time what will go wrong first, the fuel pump, the condenser, the regulator or the dynamo. Be realistic, stop looking into the past with rose tinted nostalgia glasses.
The reason a Minor is capable of an MOT is because of “Grandfather rights”, as it conformed to the requirements of the construction and use regulations at the time of manufacture it is still legal for use on the public highway. Unfortunately have an accident at speed in one of these and you die, have the same in a modern car and you will probably walk away with minor injuries.
ROI, what a quaint concept when applied to the motor trade, it seems that we are all out to rip off the poor hard-done-by motorist anyway, if we priced our work to achieve the ROI that we would expect in any other trade the customers would have a fit. What we are trying to do is keep up with developments and fix cars at a reasonable price. This can only be done if we can talk to the computers in it. You seem to think we have a choice not to buy this equipment, what do you suggest we do, build our own gear based on a Sinclair Spectrum? You say this cost is not your problem, of course it is, what we buy we have to cost onwards. I take on customers problems and make them mine, I do this for money, this is how it works in any industry, why should the motor trade be any different? If the governments would compel manufacturers to to “toe the line” about diagnostic standards it would help, but the manufacturers have a powerful tool here to keep the independants out and keep cars in main dealer hands for longer and they are not about to give it up without a fight.
This change to the MOT is just an overhaul to bring it up to date with current vehicles. Why do people think that having paid thousands for a car the expense ends there? Motorists no longer budget for repairs and maintenance, they expect to buy the car and drive it forever with nothing going wrong. Modern cars are very reliable on a “per item” basis but as every car contains many items then things will go wrong occasionally. If you cannot afford to run a car take the bus, if you must drive then keep you car roadworthy, properly roadworthy not just without the wheels hanging off.
The government is not doing this to make more revenue off the poor motorist, they achieve that by outrageous fuel prices! Neither are we in collusion with them to make more money but it is essential that these safety systems are working correctly. Or are you proposing that it is ok for a driver’s Punto showing an electronic power steering light to remain on the road despite the fact that on occasion this fault can develop into a sudden uncontrollable urge to turn hard left (or right)?
Get real this is not a rip-off, it is just plain common sense.
As a piece of advice if you want a reliable car buy a Focus, for some reason this is a car I very rarely have in my workshop.

I agree that modern cars – even the worst ones – are more reliable than the old cars. In the 60’s it would have been difficult to believe that within a few decades cars would start first time and that they would need to be taken for servicing only once a year.

Properly designed and built electronics should last the life of a car, and I’m saying that as one who has some experience of industrial/laboratory electronics (good quality) and consumer electronics (often very poor). Modern cars have loads of gadgetry but why not build in an OBD system that can indicate in English (not meaningless codes) what fault(s) exist? Maybe some manufacturers do this and I am out of date.

I am impressed with what has been achieved but appalled by what has not.

Just an afterthought. Although car electronics could be more reliable, I appreciate that sensors are likely to continue to be a reason for faults, but these are cheaper to replace.

I totally agree with the importance of keeping cars roadworthy, including warning lights in full working condition. Anyone who thinks otherwise should not be on the road.

@Response Diagnostics – Morris 1000 traveller – I beg to differ regarding reliability, I made several trips to and from Oxfordshire and Fife whilst in the Air Force without the vehicle breaking down. As to the the build being crap, I would say that they were built like a brick shithouse and if a modern car were to hit a traveller or worse the traveller hit a modern car then it would more likely be the modern car that would be written off.

The only problem was rust due to the poor quality of the anodising.

On ROI I think you missed my point, that you accepted the price quoted by the suppliers of the test equipment rather than getting them to drop the price. Anyway I agree with Wavechange in that the powers that be should make sure that the software reports in plain english or any programmed language the fault.

As a software test engineer this is not impossible but improbable due to the acceptance by the motor industry that they wish to keep a monopoly on the ability to diagnose and repair a modern vehicle. You yourself are part of the problem as you accept the status quo with regard for the need for expensive test equipment to diagnose flats.

There are several people on this convo pointing out that there are known issues with sensors in vehicles and until now the garages answer has been its not a problem otherwise very costly to repair.

I would suggest that it is a rip-off, however, it is one being imposed on us by the EU who in the main manufacture crap cars such as the mentioned Peugeot as are most French cars. Its a bit like the common agricultural policy, designed by the French to protect their small farmers.

Response Diagnostics says:
28 February 2012

” I would say that they were built like a brick shithouse and if a modern car were to hit a traveller or worse the traveller hit a modern car then it would more likely be the modern car that would be written off.” Have you never heard of crumple zones, the car is designed to do this and thus absorb the energy rather than transfer it to the occupants thus KILLING them! Which would happen in the minor but not the modern car.
“The only problem was rust due to the poor quality of the anodising” How do you anodise steel? perhaps you mean galvanising of which there was none on a minor, yes I do have experience of this era of cars.
It would be possible to display plain text fault descriptions on the dashboard. But it is never going to happen, be realistic the dealers would lose out too much. Or would they, once the owner has tried to fix his own car and made a pigs ear of it they (or I) could make a fortune out of clearing up the wreckage. The very worst problems I have are when the owner tries to fix his own car and creates loads of consequential problems that I then have to sort out before getting to the original fault.
“On ROI I think you missed my point, that you accepted the price quoted by the suppliers of the test equipment rather than getting them to drop the price.” and “You yourself are part of the problem as you accept the status quo with regard for the need for expensive test equipment to diagnose flats.” WTF? How much buying power do you think I have? My choice is simple, I buy or I don’t buy, in which case I have nothing to diagnose cars with. The equipment is always going to be expensive as manufacturers are unwilling to release source code for diagnostic protocols and much of it is reverse engineered at great time and expense. I could likewise place the blame on car buyers for buying the rubbish ones and not the good ones.
It seems to me you are not interested in a reasoned argument, your viewpoint is merely one of “hard done by motorist” and the rest of the world is out to stitch them up, I can see it will be impossible to change your views as your mind is made up.

I agree with your points about the Morris Traveller and the fact that amateur mechanics can cause mayhem, but please don’t tar them all with the same brush. Anyone who knows their limitations can do more good than harm and may well be driving around in a better maintained car than those that see a garage only once a year.

Although I agree that it is essential that warning lights are functioning correctly, I believe that a plain English display of fault conditions could be a valuable safety feature. If a warning light comes on, the driver does not know whether they must stop immediately, whether it is safe to drive home at low speed or whether the problem can wait until the next service. Let us play the safety card and win the game.

Response Diagnostics says:
28 February 2012

Absolutely Wavechange, there are many competent amateur mechanics out there, but look up Dunning-Kruger syndrome on Wikipedia, basically the inability of the truly incompetent to recognise their own incompetence. This is the problem, in any field of endeavour problems arise when people do not know or recognise when their expertise runs out and that they should stop and/or seek assistance.
The problem with the warning light is as you say, it does not differentiate between levels of fault.
Some cars do now give text messages relating to the type of fault but usually translate into “take me to your dealer”.
What I object to are insinuations or outright comments by posters that all those in the motor trade are out to rip off the motorist, of course there are those types but there are also many like me who are just trying to repair vehicles at a price which makes me a living but is not unfair to the motorist either.
Most of my work comes from recommendation which I like, many of my customers return again because they are happy with my work and not because I didn’t get it right first time.
In the current financial climate one of the first things to go by the board is car servicing as a result the MOT test is the only time many cars get any sort of expert eye over them and as a result is becoming even more important.
Modern cars are now much less easy for the d.i.y mechanic to deal with so having decided not to have professional servicing carried out on their car many motorists now do nothing at all rather than service it themselves.

Wow. That’s the second time the Dunning-Kruger effect has come up in Which? Conversation recently.

I am certainly not wanting to criticise or discredit car specialists and if I wanted to have a go at anyone it would be main dealers (for not doing jobs listed in their schedules or not doing them properly) and car hire companies (for sending out vehicles in unfit and sometimes dangerous states).

I agree about life becoming harder for the diy mechanic and on more than one occasion I have been told by professionals that they are finding jobs harder too. It’s ridiculous that its necessary to lift the engine to change a cam belt and making it difficult for owners to change a bulb demonstrates lack of genuine commitment to safety by certain car manufacturers.

Cars need to be in a safe condition at all times and not just before the MOT test. I would like to see roadside checks for vehicles. It would provide me with reassurance or possibly alert me to a problem that needs to be fixed. Either way I’m a winner.

Thank goodness we have avoided switching to a 2 year MOT test.

Steve says:
18 July 2012

@wavechange:
“Thank goodness we have avoided switching to a 2 year MOT test.”

That’s yet another point: How would you explain that there are countries where they only require a bi-annual MOT which are equally safe if not safer (and e.g. with no general speed limit on motorways) then the UK?
They’d all be running around with yellow lights on and thus cars being in a “dangerous condition” as they wouldn’t pass MOT with this.

The French got 230V sockets in their bathrooms, the British government thinks people would all electrocute themselves. Never heard that the French are dying in their bathrooms in large numbers.

Don’t take this personally but I’d just like to show that local regulations need to be seen in a wider context. And why not look around and lobby for the most reasonable legislation (on MOT and other areas) to be taken on in the UK if it has proven to be safe in comparable circumstances?

Steve

There are so many different factors, I am not sure it is meaningful to make a comparison between countries. There is a Conversation relating to the frequency of the MOT test, so perhaps here is not the right place to debate this.

As I have said before, the manufacturers should be responsible for providing warning light systems that are fit for the purpose. Since that is clearly not working, I believe that they should pay for rectification of faults for at least ten years, unless certain sensors are deemed to be consumable items.

There is no reason why we have to have simple warning lights when most new cars have some sort of display that could be used to provide information about faults. Skip some of the junk that comes with new cars and include a plain English diagnostic system instead.

Forget the French and Europe on mains electricity. They have not discovered the benefit of fused plugs yet.

Steve says:
18 July 2012

@ wavechange:

I agree that manufactuers have failed on the warning lights. I had a conversation with Mercedes a few years ago. Their answer was (in my own words) “We recommend you take in the vehicle to a dealership as mechanics there are properly trained…we do not want owners to know exactly what’s wrong because we cannot guarantee they’d be able to deal with faults properly” …in other words owners are seen to be too daft to deal with plain English messages. A wrong interpretation of corporate liability. And between the lines, this mainly means business for them. But it’s utter contempt of their customers.
But we’ve all seen how stupid the public is when there was talk of a fuel tanker driver strike…

In this context I’d accept the new MOT rules if they had come with the requirement for plain text messages (or blink codes e.g.) for the driver. As usual politicians have failed to do their job properly.

The only good thing about the EU is free travel and the common market. And the new MOT rules may have been an attempts to harmonise regulation between countries.
So why not compare countries if manufacturers are international companies anyway and vehicles are crossing the borders frequently?

Oh and I guess nothing speaks against the French installing fused plugs. Most EU countries usually use a star shaped wiring layout with a fuse at the centre of each line. So the fuse is actually there. In the UK you often find a ring shaped system, so you need to fuse each plug or you could easily exceed 13 Amps on one line. None of those layouts is superior to the other in my opinion. And both would allow bath room sockets 🙂

In the UK the ring main is adequately protected by a suitable circuit breaker and each appliance is protected with an appropriate fuse, which can be as small as one amp. You cannot provide appropriate protection for plug-in appliances (including their cables) with different loadings by line fuses. This is well recognised, though someone needs to tell the EU.

Sorry for being off topic. 🙂

Now I have wound everyone up a bit let me state my own personal position;

1. Vehicle faults must be reported in plain English to the driver

2. The driver should maintain the car to the required standard

3. The regulations and taxation must never cause people to have to stop driving as otherwise due to the essential nature of travel and access in the outlying villages and towns the safety aspects WILL be skipped.

4. My car is essential to allow me to work and visit my disabled son.

I still feel that Response Diagnostics could consider raising the issue regarding the cost and the monopoly of the distributors with regard to access to the test equipment with both the motor traders association and the EU. Only those people directly involved in the maintenance of vehicles will be in a position to put the case strongly enough.

Response Diagnostics says:
28 February 2012

Believe me I whinge a lot at the diagostic equipment manufacturers but basically they just laugh.
They make wild claims about what the stuff will do, “near dealer functionality” etc.when you buy it and then when you plug it in and only find read and reset fault codes with no live data or module coding functions you either get “well we can’t do everything on all cars” or “it’ll be out in the next update Sir”. I would really like someone to take them up on the “Trades description” issues, but it won’t be me, I don’t have the time.
Point 1 is laudible but in my experience it might just as well be in Swahili as many owners seem to neither understand nor care. In my case I know most of the vehicles which are equipped with onboard lamp failure monitoring and yet I am always seeing them with lights out and I just know the car is telling them so, this is even more frustrating when I see the same car every morning for a week so “it’s only just happened” does not wash.
Isn’t your point 2 the one about which this topic is running?
Point 3, most people seem to treat driving as a right not a privilege, Taxation can be adjusted, I don’t think safety should be negotiable.
FWIW my wife is also disabled, that is made easier by Motability, one car I do not have to worry about.

“I would really like someone to take them up on the “Trades description” issues, but it won’t be me, I don’t have the time.”

Now perhaps this is where ‘Which?’ can step in and start a campaign to get all faults in a vehicle reported in a language understandable to the layman visibly within the vehicle to include severity (accurately) and advice on what needs to be done immediately etc

They could also start a campaign using the EU to force the car manufacturers to supply the necessary access to the management systems including the protocols used in the communication and the connectivity required.

What say you Which?

Steve says:
16 July 2012

” people seem to treat driving as a right not a privilege”

Sorry but considering the costs and overcrowding of train services, door to door travel times and all this paired with the requirement for mobility when it comes to work (try to carry around a 25kg tool box on trains and buses) driving is a right not a privilege!

This does not mean you shouldn’t meet certain requirements like tax, insurance, basic roadworthiness. But regulations go way beyond basic roadworthiness now.

David W says:
22 March 2012

I wrote to my MP about this, and got a reply from the transport secretary blaming “European legislation”.
I drive an Alfa 156 with an ABS light on, which nearly all of them have. The point I want to make is that I doubt if when Luigi takes his Alfa into the garage in Torino, it will fail the MOT because the light is on. Luciano will say, everyone knows Alfa’s have the light on! He will disconnect the light, perhaps Luigi will slip him 20 euros, and everyone will be happy. Not here! Here the car will fail, the local garage will be unable to fix it. The Alfa dealer will replace half the car, charge many hundreds of pounds, the light will go off for a fortnight, and then come back on just after the mot has been given. All through this process, this car will be driving and braking perfectly, and the airbag system is working to acceptable standards (tested by Alfa).
This is rubbish legislation which no one else in Europe except possibly the Germans, will take any notice of. We will pay through the nose.

If your ABS warning light is disconnected, how will you know if there is a genuine fault?

The legislation is intended to prevent motorists from driving cars that are or may be in dangerous condition. I am disappointed that your MP has offered any criticism of the EU.

The problem relates to your car, and, depending on the age of the vehicle, you may be able to take advantage of the Sale of Goods Act, by contacting your retailer. If a fault is corrected but recurs, you should take this up with the garage that corrected the problem.

Fiat is not noted for reliability, though I do not know which manufacturers – if any – have a reliable warning light system.

Steve says:
16 July 2012

The problem is that people think their brakes will fail if the ABS light is on or ABS wouldn’t work.
hardly anyobody seems to know that all it does is not keep you going in your chosen direction when you’re braking on slippery surface. It could result in an accident because you cannot avoid oncoming traffic. But on dry ground ABS actually extends your braking distance.
On balance it’s commonly agreed that having ABS is the safer and better option. But not having it does not make your car generally unsafe thus regulation should not require to fail it but mark it as an advice. Lobby for it!
It should still get sorted as soon as possible in one’s own interest (and this includes not causing any harm to any other road user).

🙂

Nicholas Keeble says:
24 March 2012

Unfortunately the second paragraph in the printed Which? article gives the wrong information concerning ABS warning lights. I took my old Citroen XM Estate for an MOT yesterday knowing the ABS light was not coming on (it should come on then go off to show everything’s OK). I showed the copy of Which to the tester who said ‘No, an ABS malfunction has not been an MOT Advisory for YEARS. If the light does not work as it should it is a FAIL.’ The Which article infers that an ABS warning is indeed an Advisory item, whereas to my huge disappointment, and no doubt expense, it is not. The garage is now trying to get their diagnostics kit to talk to the XM, but it isn’t playing ball. I can see many very useful, rust-free old cars with plenty of life left in them being scrapped due to the new directive. I’m all for safety, but my Alfa 2600 Sprint was born long before ABS was thought of and it manages to stop perfectly well with standard 1965 discs…

It seems that this topic has generated a lot of debate mostly centred around drivers with cars that have faulty warning lights rather than actual faults. Safety warning lights are there for a purpose and if a manufacturer has a history of malfunctioning lights then maybe they’ll take some notice to sort out their products if they start to lose sales because of this.

However, looking at it another way, it might force many motorists to actually look at what their instruments and displays are telling them. It seems that many don’t notice the fog light tell-tale and drive around for days with their fog lights on after the last foggy morning. I’m sure none of us would drive around with the oil warning light on by saying that it’s faulty because it “often comes on” and it’s surprising how many people just don’t know what their displays are telling them or treat it as a low priority to look in the owner’s manual. Maybe it’s because cars are now much more complicated and people treat their cars like their home videa and only use the bits that work for them and ignore the rest. The difference being that a home video isn’t likely to become a lethal weapon if you choose not to understand what it’s telling you.

So, though I feel for those owners with cars where the manufacturer has a poor implementation of safety-related warning systems, it has to be a good thing for safety overall that if your car is indicating a possible malfunction of a safety-related item that it should be addressed.

Mark O'Sullivan says:
24 March 2012

I would expect to be annoyed by “videa” as a novel plural for “video”, but, curiously, I rather like it.

Well I for one has now bought a new car. I couldn’t afford to pay the garage to go on a fishing trip every time it went in for a service. I didn’t particularly want to buy a new car I had it from new it had only done 53,000 in 10 years. Neither the dealer nor an independent garage could find anything wrong with the car that caused the engine light to be on and it was accepted in the end that it was down to a piece of dust in the system and was caused or assisted by my low mileage.
The light had been on and off for about 7 years with it on permanently for the last 3 or 4 years except when it was reset in the garage. The car ran without any problems at all.
Perhaps the plan is for us to buy more cars but I do think that if that is the case people should say so.