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Giving the right advice

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Advisory notices are a non-mandatory part of the MOT and it’s up to the tester to decide whether to advise on an item or not. Some Authorised Examiners may also have their own policy in place for advisories.

As pointed out in the MOT Inspection Manual, it’s considered best practice to advise the presenter about:

  • any items which are near to, but which have not yet reached the point of test failure
  • any peculiarities of the vehicle identified during the inspection
  • any defects on non-testable items which are found during the inspection procedure

An advisory must be useful to the vehicle owner for keeping their vehicle roadworthy; or clarify a significant aspect of the vehicle, such as a missing passenger seat. It’s important to remember that inappropriate advisories can reduce the resale value of a vehicle or result in unnecessary repair work.

Evidence shows that in many cases testable advisories have become overused, sometimes with the same advisory being used year after year. We may be partly responsible for this due to the wording of some advisories; such as a component ‘slightly worn’ or ‘slightly corroded’.

Before issuing an advisory for a ‘slightly’ worn or ‘slightly’ corroded component, consider whether it meets the guidance in the Manual; eg, is near to, but has not yet reached the point of test failure.

Similarly, consider whether it is necessary to select items from the non-component advisory list such as “undertrays fitted obscuring some underside components” where they are known to be standard fitment on the model of vehicle tested.

As part of MOT Modernisation and the new EU directive we will be reviewing the concept of advisories and their wording.


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  1. Comment by Matters of Testing posted on

    Hi everyone

    Thanks for your feedback. We've looked through most of your comments and have decided to respond to some of the points raised.

    Firstly, it's important to understand that advisory items aren't covered by the test regulations and the guidance in the MOT Inspection Manual is 'best practice'. Testers are therefore free to issue appropriate advisories or not to advise at all. There is no disciplinary sanction for not issuing advisories, although it can help your cause on disputed aspects in the event of a DVSA re-inspection of the vehicle.

    While the majority of testers issue perfectly valid advisories, we have seen many examples of incorrect, misleading and even abusive advisories being issued. These can't be removed and remain part of the vehicles test history, leading to complaints from vehicle owners, many of which have had unnecessary repairs carried out.

    In respect of undertrays, these are common fitment, particularly on diesels, and can't therefore be considered 'a peculiarity of the vehicle identified during the inspection' as maybe they once were. The fact that they may prevent a proper inspection of certain items is no more relevant that the fitment of interior trim or carpet. If a vehicle has been modified, for example as a track day car, and has undershields such as a sump guard or fuel tank shield which are not standard, then it would be logical to advise on their fitment.

    The purpose of the MOT test is to check that; at the time of the test, the testable items meet the minimum standard required by law and without dismantling. The responsibility for the condition of a vehicle lies with the vehicle owner and the MOT is not intended to replace routine servicing and maintenance.

    The tester’s obligation to presenters and their vehicles is to carry out a test in accordance with the requirements and to advise them, if necessary, in line with the published guidance. It is our experience that most customers don't want a list of inappropriate advisories against their vehicle record.

    We hope this helps.

  2. Comment by Robnic posted on

    As a NT & AE I agree with most of the above, if nearing it's end of life or hidden from view advise - as we are told to do (on the soon to be scrapped!) refresher courses. Once the refreshers are gone DVSA will push for us to advise less next thing politicians see all the 'safe' vehicles an we'll be back to 4-2-2!

  3. Comment by Les East Markham posted on

    You can only pass or fail items that that you can see, so if the car you are testing is fitted with an under tray as standard it should be blindingly obvious that unless you have kryptonite for breakfast you cannot comment on what is hidden.
    Before I became a tester I used to put any concerns on the invoice, this is a document that catches people's attention, I still use this system, with regards to the MOT all the general public are interested in is a pass.

  4. Comment by Dave. Poole posted on

    I am a NT of approx 40 years standing, and common sense says if you are uncertain about a testable item, at the very least ALWAYS advise. On every refresher course I have ever attended, the mantra espoused by our instructor has always pass and advise. You have then covered yourself in the event of a subsequent complaint. This applies especially in the case of plastic covers/under trays etc. How can you pass a testable item which is covered up? I have recently had 2 incidents of brake pipe failure whilst testing, where in both cases the pipes were completely out of sight. Carry on advising guys!

  5. Comment by jon posted on

    Totally agree with most of the comments. What if you didn't advise under tray fitted. Customer then removed it, sold car and a major mot fault was found if inspected by new owner, how would a nt prove at time of test he couldn't see that fault because under tray was fitted when he tested it and hadn't advised it. Yes as nt's we should cover ourselves. No pun intended!

  6. Comment by ashley posted on

    Two things this has probably already been said but being able to make a comment is an awesome idea and to the item in question, not only is advising a good idea to cover a NT after all if something has been advise and causes an issue at a later date at least the vehicle owner has been informed and also we had vosa inspector come round to do a routine check and if he had his way wanted me to advise more items than I already had done were is the consistency?

  7. Comment by Les Nicol posted on

    Brake pipes are a nightmare a few years back I failed a Peugeot 205 and on appeal I was overruled by Ministry examiner with a formal warning for being over zealous , 3 weeks later the car owner's came and apoligised to me as his daughters car was involved in an accident due to brake pipe failure. Luckily she wasn't seriously injured but never had an apology from the Ministry even after the car owner sent them a recorded delivery letter

  8. Comment by Paul posted on

    This issue about advisories has surely come from pressure put on by used car dealers, who since the advisories have been printed on the same sheet as the pass test certificate have moaned about the number of advisories on the sheet. Unlike before when the advisories were on a separate sheet and they could simply forget to pass on the sheet to the new owner, controversial or what. But we as testers have to advise on certain things to cover ourselves the consequences for not advising in some circumstances could be catastrophic.

  9. Comment by A I Paull posted on

    Dale and Mr R thomas are spot on. We, the testers, should have the final say, we are saying if the car is safe or not, and we should be able to put whatever, within reason, What we like on the mot certificate. If we feel that the covers could be hiding corrosion etc, we need to document it, it covers our behinds. All this talk about the EU etc, Why, most of the country want to come out of the EU, Look what it cost us in silly clauses, And not to mention the talk of having mot's every 2 years like in europe. Our country, We need to take control of it again. Imagine the state of the vehicles if it was on the road for 2 years with no maintainence. Shame most of what we say falls on deaf ears. Does anyone from DVSA actually read our comments.

  10. Comment by Rich posted on

    Would be nice to have an official view on this as I can see this becoming a hot topic if DVSA and by the looks of it are all ready thinking about looking into how we advise items in the future, hence this article.
    As far as I'm concerned nothing needs to change, we have a system that works perfectly well. It should be the general public who need educating as to the workings of an mot. The vast majority of us all involved with the mot scheme do a bloody good job & the powers to be seem to be hell bent on making it even harder for us.

  11. Comment by Full time tester who uses advisories posted on

    I really do wonder if the people who write matters of testing are testers or have any testing experiance. Yet agin we see the mot scheme brought into disrepute by the very agency who should be setting an example. shame on them

  12. Comment by nick doncaster posted on

    as a tester i agree that the use of top covers and under tray advisories are a must , we are doing a mot test, we are not allowed to remove these covers , so any items under these covers cannot be tested, so the customer must be aware of this, if we are doing a service covers can be removed and defects spotted, the customer has to be made aware that an mot is minimum standard and not a service.

  13. Comment by Paul Leader posted on

    I always advise items if I see a fault even if it is nothing to do with the Mot test or not as some owners like to keep their vehicle in top condition and possibly only have their vehicle check once a year by an experienced person it also makes my work easier the next year they are paying the company £54 to give them the best test I can and keep them as safe as I can they decide if they want to take my advise or not most do I advise on around 8 out of 10 vehicles I find this to be a very good practise I have been testing for 19 years I only do MOTS allday every day 8 cars per day as for it effecting the vehicle value or possibility of resale if I seen advises on a MOT and the owner had done them I would be more inclined to buy it and feel that the owner had looked after the vehicle

  14. Comment by Paul mot tester bournemouth posted on

    I was always told on refreshers ect .. That the advisory section was to make the vehicle presenter aware of any potential problems but mainly to cover myself in the instance the car was involed in an accident or the quality of the test I'd carried out came into question... I think people need to be educated on how basic the mot test really is ... Most people seem to think an mot pass means there car is in tip top mechanical condition,when in reality it has met the basic and very poor mot standard

  15. Comment by Gaz posted on

    I went on my refresher course the other week and we were told to advise then I read this and your saying don't advise then you will get somebody from VOSA come around and say to you that you should advise something that you haven't. VOSA really want to make up their mind. The thing about not using the undertray advise well that's just brainless. That's there to core the tester just incase there is something wrong that you can't see. You just want to tell us one thing and stick to it!!!!!

  16. Comment by p arries posted on

    I have to side with alan and rich on this, we could go on for ever documenting the "horror stories*
    that have been found from over trays and under trays being removed !!!!!
    injector having a small leak which is masked by an over tray ....
    rotten brake pipes/subframes above under trays
    "matters of testing" have already shown this excessively corroded front zafira subframe being hidden by an undertray.

  17. Comment by Alan posted on

    I failed a Bmw the other day on a corroded front to rear brake pipe what you can see of them. When we took undertrays off we found the corrosion even worse on the other end so will always use the covers/undertray advisory.

  18. Comment by Paul posted on

    I agree how do we know what condition the under-side of a vehicle is if we are unable to inspect I can see more disciplinary action coming our way when brake pipes fail because we could not see them and we all know too well how the powers that be stand behind you!! They will back you up all the way until you miss an item you can't see and can't advise !!!

  19. Comment by Ian posted on

    I am a NT and take issue with what is being said during my many training courses over 30+ years as a tester we are told to use advisory comments to protect ourselves on any test should an appeal be embarked upon.
    Most appeals in my experience are on vehicles with a recent pass MOT which have been sold soon after.
    Guys carry on using advisories until those in government can give a clear indication on what is a pass and what is a fail.
    Brake pies are a clear example you are dammed if you fail it but it fails and is deemed to be the cause of an accident and you failed to advise it YOU WILL BE HUNG OUT TO DRY.
    Keep using advisories to protect yourself and your garage.

  20. Comment by laurence posted on

    You need to advise everything to cover your backside of you will be blamed for missing it lol

  21. Comment by Ed posted on

    Pleased to see this article amended, as there is enough confusion already without official websites looking like they are written by someone with no real life MOT experience.

    • Replies to Ed>

      Comment by Rich posted on

      Same here Ed, the first version really incensed me to be honest.

    • Replies to Ed>

      Comment by R Thomas posted on

      Evidence shows that in many cases testable advisories have become overused, sometimes with the same advisory being used year after year. We may be partly responsible for this due to the wording of some advisories; such as a component ‘slightly worn’ or ‘slightly corroded’.
      Before issuing an advisory for a ‘slightly’ worn or ‘slightly’ corroded component, consider whether it meets the guidance in the Manual; eg, is near to, but has not yet reached the point of test failure.
      This is getting dafter by the month, the above was clearly written to set us up that we are going to loose the right to advise some items in the future & every year after that, the same as removing the not tested items list, if this goes any further then every NT & AE’s BUT will be in a sling just like it was in the 70’s & 80’s before the tester manual’s came out.

      When a NT is testing a vehicle as set out in the manual and as told by the trainers on refresher courses to advise any defects that have deteriorated but do not meet the failure criteria in order for the vehicle owner to keep an eye on any problems.

      As to the advising of items getting slightly worn or corroded year after year this can happen if a track rod end is slightly worn and the vehicle only does 500 miles a year,
      Like wise corrosion differs in deterioration rates on different vehicles in different parts & location of the corrosion, what part of the Country the vehicle has been in or moved too, clearly my contradictory comments shows that the person that has written this article does not have a clue about motor vehicles.

      4.Assessment of Component Wear and Deterioration
      Because it is not practicable to lay down limits of wear and tolerances for all types of components on different models of vehicle, a NT is expected to use experience and judgement in assessing the condition of a component. The main criteria to be used when making such an assessment are :a. whether the component has reached the stage where it is obviously likely to affect adversely the roadworthiness of the vehicle b. whether the condition of the component has clearly reached the stage when replacement, repair or adjustment is necessary.
      I rest my case.

      I thought this site was for AE’s & NT if the general public can register and start applying comments like Jimbo then it would be far better to close the site down.

  22. Comment by rich posted on

    A tester myself of many years & I'm with Alan on this , I feel not to be able to use the undertrays/engine covers advise as intended is a bad move. I've seen vehicles, that have passed a test with an advise an undertray is fitted , taken the tray off and corrosion was found. I myself will continue using this advise as I don't want to hauled over the coals for something that was a RFR that couldn't be spotted with an undertray fitted.

    a quote from Jim "Its almost as if advisories are being used as some sort of caveat or covering exercise." I use this particular caveat to let the customer know that some testable items I have no way of fully checking as an undertray is fitted, because you can bet your bottom dollar the time i don't use it it will come back to bite me in the backside.

  23. Comment by Adrian posted on

    I did read somewhere that it was being considered that removing under trays to inspect vehicle's on MOT test was being considered.
    I was always told to in if doubt advise on it, cover your ass.
    I will continue to do so.

    • Replies to Adrian>

      Comment by Nitros44 (AE /testers forum) posted on

      Removing undertrays will involve dismantling which has never been part of the mot, don't think that will ever change.
      Best thing to do is for the manufactures to stop putting undertrays on .

  24. Comment by Steve Neill posted on

    Also I approach each MOT as a blank page without referring to previous tests I have done on that particular vehicle. If the customer chooses nor to act on my previous advisories then I will advise them again or fail the item if it warrants it...

  25. Comment by david houghton posted on

    Regarding the advisories in the non component section, there are no advisories for slightly worn or slightly corroded as you say in this article.
    Also we were told to report undertrays and engine covers to protect ourselves against items which fail eg brake pipes which are concealed by them.
    Testable advisories may be used again if a part is slightly worn eg ball joint but is not significantly worse than the year before.
    I thought advisories are at the discretion of the tester to advise the customer of items which may need attention in the future.

  26. Comment by Geo Berry posted on

    After years of advise, advise, advise, and Vosa's long held belief that if you didn't advise it you missed it,.
    I suspect this request will fall on deaf ears a documented avises will always go someway as a defence if ever needed

  27. Comment by Steve Neill posted on

    You are saying two different things. What about items such as delaminated number plates that everyone can see... Are you suggesting that we no longer advise that a number plate is near the point that it no longer meets it's requirements even though year on year it may not deteriorate any further...
    The same applies to vehicles that no longer cover high mileages but have worn components.
    The advisory is a useful tool for us to guide the owner. At some point the item will fail the MOT and it is not a shock to the owner...

  28. Comment by Ajay Gokani posted on

    If an undertray is fitted and it obscures inspection of a vital component such as a steering rack etc then why not let the customer know - then they are in a better position to have these items tested/checked when they carry out a service- or is ignorance bliss?

  29. Comment by Jim posted on

    My immaculate Mk2 Golf GTi gets an advisory >every year< that it's "sills are covered with body mouldings and structural condition of the sills can not be checked". These are the factory skirts. Totally unnecessary and it spoils an otherwise advisory free MoT test. Its almost as if advisories are being used as some sort of caveat or covering exercise.
    Received "Spare wheel carrier corroded" the other day. It will be corroded, its under the car! Its in no way close to failure so what was the point?
    A friend of mine who is not clued up with cars said he gets his garage to resolve all advisories. Perhaps they are being used to drum up unnecessary business.......

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by david houghton posted on

      Are you a tester? Advisories are just that ,items brought to your attention.You do not have to have them rectified.Testers are responsible for their mots and if something cannot be seen to inspect it then the advisory tells you.

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by Dale posted on

      A few thoughts from a tester and manager - "Totally unnecessary and it spoils an otherwise advisory free MoT test" - The MOT is not about getting a totally advisory free piece of paper - there are no points for it. Also a MK2 Golf is very definitely in the right age for corrosion where you can't see it.

      I've sent in pics to Matters of Testing of a BMW 320 (E46) with factory fitted plastic skirts along the sills. Once removed the whole area was completely corroded and came away with the plastic. In fact the older Mercedes Benz E Class rotted across the front lower cross member under the radiator where the tray held the moisture in permanent contact with it. Neither of these can be seen on an MOT so you have to cover yourself.

      Have a look at Citroen Picassos just behind the front jacking point. At this age you'll see the corrosion beginning but because it's under a very thick plastic undercoat you can't be sure as to the real condition without damaging anything so your only option is an advisory.

      I try to go out of my way to explain what I mean and why I've ticked the box to customers. Most are surprised about some of the myths that get perpetrated about advisories.

      Micra / Almera front crossmembers anyone?

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by paul gardner. posted on

      absolutly,testers have to advise on all this stuff otherwise they get hauled over the coals and criticised by vosa/dvsa staff for the slightest thing thing that could have some ambiguity to it.

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by Aj Enfield posted on

      Ofcourse Advisories are caveats and covering exercise - because if this advisory is ignored by the customer and say the spare wheel fell off and hit the cyclist behind you .......
      Where as you took the advice on board, you checked the spare wheel carrier, you have assessed that it is safe, so the advisory has achieved it's purpose of opening your eyes to a potential future issue. Just as important as advising you that the main structural component on your Vdub cannot be checked because of skirts, so be aware..... So you should actually thank the tester that he has taken the time and effort to make a note of these things and taken the time to put them on the advisory

    • Replies to Jim>

      Comment by mickey posted on

      well next time you go for mot why don't you remove the factory skirts then you may get your advisory free MoT and we will all be happy

  30. Comment by andy m posted on

    How come on the last refresher course we were told to start to use the undertray fitted advisory. The reason being that manufacturers are fitting more and we needed to highlight the problem. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication between refresher courses and what is expected from DVSA.

  31. Comment by Alan posted on

    Very disturbing article.
    For the 25 years I've been involved the the mot sceam the advise has been if it doubt advise.
    Now we are being told this could affect the resale value of a vehicle.
    When did the mot test become a vital part of the second hand car market and not about the minimum (I say minimum because that's what they are) standards of road safety.
    How can advising a customer who has probably never seen the underside of their vehicle that 75% is cover by under trays be of concern. Obviously this would significantly reduce the resale value or incure unnecessary repair costs.
    The whole point to advise on under trays is to make the customer aware that a large section of their vehicle can't be tested. As a NT I for one will continue to use this advisory item until I'm told not to which sounds like that could be sooner than later.

  32. Comment by An mot tester posted on

    Funny this i was pointed for "missing" a slightly split dust cover by the vosa bloke i also pointed this out of the bot needing to record advisories if i didnt deem it yet a fail but i still hot the points because i dud bot advise them or dail them

  33. Comment by ewan posted on

    Having been a tester for the last 15 years’ was very surprised by the information given above to cut down on advisories. I have been to a few appeals over the years (which have all ruled in my favor) advisories are the only way to prove you 'saw it’. When I first became a tester I was told by my peers to: advice, advice, advice. It’s the one thing that will help you if there is an appeal (and they were correct)

    ‘’ It’s also not useful to advise the presenter on items like “under trays fitted obscuring some underside components” when they are standard fitments on the vehicle model.’’

    As shown in your previous horror stories listings. Underbody covers have been removed to find dangerously corroded sub frames. This is very useful to have on an advisories list especially if the presenter has removed it and then you find yourself facing an appeal for passing a dangerous item.
    I would also like to point out that DVSA added these items to the advisories list. I assumed for this very reason.

    With such harsh penalties for missing a possible fail item. I ask you, is it really worth the risk not advising?

  34. Comment by Gordon b posted on

    This is a disgrace telling us what to advise on. , I have had to advise on certain things a few years in a row , like a ball joint with wear that never got worse but was still worn and worthy of an advisory. , you should be more concerned about garages with poor testing standards , not impressed with this latest pr stunt from Dvsa

  35. Comment by Rich posted on

    "It’s also not useful to advise the presenter on items like “under trays fitted obscuring some underside components” when they are standard fitments on the vehicle model."

    And the reasoning behind this is ? I've always used this advise & used it for the same vehicles every year & will continue to use it, even it was taken out of the advisory section I would put it in. On the refresher courses I've been on a phrase that got passed onto me & stuck with me over the years is CYA "cover your arse" and using the undertrays & engine covers fitted as advisories, as far as I'm concerned is a CYA moment.
    I've always explained to customers the reasoning why I've used this advisory (testable items obscured) & they have no problems with it. I've seen vehicles where corrosion wasn't evident as an undertray was fitted. I don't want to be hauled over the coals for something I've missed because it was obscured by an undertray & I couldn't use the advisory for it.

  36. Comment by James redmond posted on

    If it shouldn't be used it shouldn't be there!!!! To many grey areas and to many VE's making up there own interpretation of the manual! Just done a 10 year refresher and me and every1 in the room thought we'd been testing wrong for years!!!! Example : he told us after market, so additional lights!!!! Was ok for marker lights if sidelights were out!!!! When it clearly states"additional lights are not part of the test" or words to that effect so you tell me????

  37. Comment by Nick Hartley posted on

    I put under trays fitted if they are because where do you stand If a brake pipe is covered up by them and burst, so you are basically saying you have not got a clue how serviceable a component is if it's covered up?