New MOT test: drivers more vulnerable to getting ripped off 

  • Motorists are overcharged by an average of £205 after a trip to the garage
  • Female drivers are 51% more worried about getting cheated out of cash than men
  • Cars with faults assessed as serious by mechanics, under new legislation, can be prohibited from leaving until fixed – meaning drivers could be forced to snag a bad deal

May 2018: This month the MOT test changes¹, including new defect categories of ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ and ‘minor’ and stricter rules for diesel car. In light of new research released today revealing drivers are overcharged by an average of £205 by visiting a mechanic, it is in your interest to understand the new rules and the workings of your car prior to taking it in.

If faults are identified as ‘dangerous’, motorists won't be able to drive their vehicle away from the testing station; this means they are more vulnerable than ever to being ripped off as it is difficult to compare costs or go elsewhere. With nearly 28 million cars having MOT tests each year², 85% of drivers admit they don’t trust mechanics and almost one in three (30%) drivers say they have been cheated by one.

With gender bias under the microscope like never before, it’s troubling to find women are seemingly more affected. According to the data, female drivers are 51% more worried than men about getting unfairly overcharged. In fact, over one in 10 admit they've felt pressured into paying for repairs they knew they didn’t really need and over a quarter (28%) have felt intimated at a garage. It is no wonder then that more than a fifth of women (22%) feel uneasy and anxious by the mere thought of visiting a mechanic!

According to the data, 62% of female drivers think mechanics treat them differently to male drivers, although less men perceive this to be true - only half (50%). Additionally, 55% of women believe mechanics think that they don’t know much about cars, but only 41% of men think mechanics view the other sex this way.

The cost of paying for repairs also seems to be a major concern for a large proportion of UK drivers, with two in five (38%) worrying about the cost of repairs. And over a third (36%) are concerned about the inconvenience of waiting times and temporarily not having a car.

Worryingly, one in seven (14%) drivers therefore deliberately avoid taking their car to a mechanic. In fact, almost one in 10 (8%) drivers will try and carry out basic car repairs themselves instead of forking out hefty sums. The most common car repair is replacing worn brake pads (70%), followed by fixing a brake disc (66%) and changing the oil (57%). And while almost half (45%) of drivers claim to know how to change a tyre, only 15% would know how to change their own brake pads.

In order for drivers to arm themselves with knowledge and to potentially cut unnecessary costs, one in seven (14%) take to the internet to work out what is wrong with their car. But only 10% were savvy enough to visit more than one garage to compare costs.

To uncover some of the murky tricks of the trade, Confused.com has teamed up with a trustworthy mechanic in a film alerting drivers to the infamous rip-off tactics they should look out for when they visit a garage. The driver savings site has also created a go-to guide with advice on how to avoid getting overcharged and how much drivers should expect to pay for some of the most common repairs.

Amanda Stretton, Confused.com’s motoring editor, explains the importance of shopping around: “Drivers have felt exploited by mechanics for long enough. It is a huge concern people are scared to take their car in for servicing or an MOT for fear of being ripped off. Drivers should read our guide to empower themselves and equip them with as much advice as possible before a trip to the mechanic.

“While there are many reputable garages out there, our data shows people are sceptical because they simply don’t know how much they should be paying for repairs. And many people – especially women - believe mechanics are going to take advantage of them – even if they aren’t!

“We urge drivers to do some research online to investigate the kind of prices they can expect to pay for specific types of repair work. They should consider comparing prices from several garages to ensure they are getting the best value for money. An easy way to do this is using a garage comparison tool to see if they can find a cheaper price elsewhere in their local area.”

Notes to Editors

Unless otherwise stated all statistics were obtained from a survey to 2,000 UK motorists. The survey ran between 22nd February and 27th February 2018.