The Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland has suspended all MOT testing for cars and light vehicles with immediate effect following further inspections of lift faults in MOT centres.
Cracks have been found in most vehicle lifts, which are used by staff to examine underneath cars and vans, in Northern Ireland's 15 government-run MOT centres, it said.
During a recent in-depth inspection of all testing centres, signs of cracking were identified in 48 out of the 55 lifts in operation.
The DVA had asked the firm which supplied the lifts to carry out repairs, but an insurance inspector was not satisfied with the attempt to fix them. As a result, most MOT tests for cars and other light vehicles in Northern Ireland were suspended with immediate effect on Monday (January 27) forcing the cancellation of 5,000 tests so far.
Tests on heavy goods vehicles and buses will continue, but it said more cancellations could follow for cars and vans as they try to resolve the issue.
Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs) will be issued to motorists who have expired or expiring MOTs as a result of the DVA cancelling their MOT appointment. These exemptions will be backdated to 20 January 2020 and extend a vehicle’s MOT certificate by four months.
If your MOT appointment has been cancelled by the DVA, a TEC will immediately be applied and a copy of the TEC will be posted to the address provided at the time the original MOT test was booked. This will confirm the new expiry date of the MOT certificate.
It may take up to 10 days before the paper copy of the TEC is received by the vehicle owner, it said.
A customer can still drive their car before receiving their paper copy of the TEC as the MOT certificate is automatically updated. It is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to ensure their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition to be used on a public road.
Insurance companies require a valid MOT to be in place. Once the TEC is automatically applied, the vehicle’s MOT certificate will be extended and is valid.
The DVA system is also updated overnight confirming a valid MOT certificate is in place. This will allow vehicle owners to tax their vehicle online.
Vehicle owners will receive an MOT reminder six weeks before the expiry of the new extended certificate date and will need to book a new MOT appointment with the DVA before their certificate expires.
However, the DVA says that four-year-old cars and taxis will be unable to benefit from the exemption.
Four-year-old cars have never been through an MOT test before, meaning they do not have an MOT test certificate to extend. These vehicles, along with taxis which require a higher level of safety checks, will be prioritised for tests in the heavy vehicle lanes in MOT test centres.
These lanes use pits rather than vehicle lifts so are not affected by the same safety concerns.
The DVA said it recognised the considerable inconvenience and disruption this will cause for many people and sincerely apologises that it has been unable to rectify this situation more quickly.
Given the urgency of this situation, the DVA is asking the public to follow media, social media channels and Nidirect for updates.
“Following the closure of all MoT test centres and the cancellation of 5,000 MOT tests in Northern Ireland, it is imperative that the NI MOT system is reformed to allow dealers to conduct the testing,” said Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK.
She continued, “MOT has repeatedly been an issue for both motorists and dealers in Northern Ireland, primarily due to long waiting times.
“NFDA has been made aware that to address the shortage of MoT appointments available, centres have had to open on Sundays and regularly add extra appointments. This may have put an additional strain on certain centres’ facilities, potentially causing some of the current issues.
“Recent problems have made it apparent that it is time to review how MoT tests are carried out in Northern Ireland. NFDA calls on the Government to enable franchised dealers in Northern Ireland to conduct MOTs as in the rest of the UK.”