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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

What we’re doing to improve the quality of MOT testing

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An over the shoulder shot of an MOT tester looking at the MOT testing service

Every year, MOT testers do over 30 million MOT tests across Great Britain. We all have a part to play in maintaining and improving the standards of those tests - whether it’s DVSA, MOT managers, MOT testers, or trade associations.

DVSA’s priority is to help everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive. Making sure every MOT test is done to the right standard is one of the ways we can do that.

A new risk rating system

Like everything that involves people, things can sometimes go wrong with MOT tests. A defect might be missed, or it might be given the wrong defect category. And of course we do know that sometimes things aren’t done right on purpose.

So we’ve improved our system that helps us spot the risk of these types of things happening regularly.

We’ll assess every vehicle testing station (VTS) to consider its potential risk of non-compliance with the MOT testing service requirements, using a revised approach to risk rating.

A VTS rating is calculated from the testers who are testing at the VTS and any previous site review and disciplinary cases for that site. A tester’s rating is calculated by analysing MOT data held within the MOT testing service computer system such as:

  • the time taken to complete tests
  • how many tests a tester carries out
  • the results of tests

The detail of how that will be calculated will change over time as we identify new trends and work to make sure poor testers can’t manipulate the data to make themselves appear good.

So, in this new system, every tester and testing station will now have an individual risk rating. This will:

  • make it easy for you to know when you should look into something
  • allow us to support you if you need help

It also means we can target our enforcement action at the minority of testers and testing stations who are either persistently poor-performing or deliberately not following the standards.

How the system works

There are 3 risk ratings in the system - they’re the same for testers and testing stations.

Like the previous rating, we’ve used the red, amber and green colour system for the ratings. But the names of the ratings aren’t what’s important - it’s what you need to do that really matters.

The table below shows what this system means for testers.

Risk rating

Type of risk

What to do


Higher risk You must look into the reasons you’re rated as higher risk, and make sure you’re testing to the right standard and following all the right processes.


Medium risk You should look into the reasons you’re rated as a medium risk, and check you’re testing to the right standard and following all the right processes.


Lower risk You should still check you’re testing to the right standard and following all the right processes.

The rating is worked out from a number of different factors - MOT special notice 12-18 tells you more about how it works, so I won’t repeat that here.

But I do want to be clear that if your risk rating is red or amber, it does not necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong. It means there are things you need to look into to satisfy yourself that you’re testing to the right standard.

And as an MOT tester, your risk rating only appears to you and DVSA. Nobody else can see it, including your boss.

We’ve also made MOT test quality information available in the MOT testing service. This is data about the MOT tests you’ve carried out. You should use as a starting point to monitor your testing standards. You can also view your test logs.

We know all this data can be a bit daunting, so we recently published guidance to help you access, use and interpret MOT test quality information.

Management approach

As an MOT manager it’s important you understand what is expected of you, and you’ll already find guidance about this in the MOT testing guide.

Also, the following 5 points cover important areas that should help you make sure your garage is well run:

1. Management control

It is essential that the authorised examiner designated manager (AEDM) has management control of what happens in an MOT garage – as they have the day-to-day management responsibility on behalf of the authorised examiner (AE).

2. Premises and equipment

There are set down standards for premises and equipment. An AEDM is responsible for ensuring that those standards are met at all times – and there needs to be some systems in place for doing so.

3. Test standards

Make sure everyone has access to important information about processes and procedures, and regularly uses test logs and test quality information. And of course, this includes having an approach to the quality assurance of testers, as set out in the MOT testing guide.

4. Staffing and training

The AEDM needs to have good policies and procedures for employing staff, there also needs to be systems in place to ensure testers are completing in year training and passing their annual assessment on time.

5. General approach

Whilst the details of the management systems that a garage has are important, the culture that is nurtured is equally important, and consistently good quality MOT testing cannot be achieved without it.

Of course, culture is much harder to measure and to judge than some of the clear rules that we have, but it's still important.

We should strive for a clear positive quality culture – doing the job (MOT testing) right, is part of how the garage works.

What we’ll do next

As with every change we make, we’ll keep checking that it’s working the way it’s intended, and will make any tweaks that are needed.

We’re going to publish improved guidance for MOT managers about managing the quality of MOT testing. This will expand on some of the points I’ve touched on in this blog post, and replace the existing risk reduction guide.

I want to finish as I started - with that big number.

Every year, you’re doing over 30 million MOT tests. They play a vital part in making our roads safe. Together, we can make sure every single MOT test is done to the right standard, helping everyone stay safe on Britain’s roads.

Find out more about using MOT test quality information, which includes the average age of vehicle tested, your failure rate, your site’s failure rate, the national failure rate, and component failure rates.

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  1. Comment by Chris posted on

    Following on from my earlyier post and the reply from Julia to David Meredith, Julia please answer this:
    I am currently an amber tester in an independent garage. I have been liasing with a main dealer in a neighbouring town who’s tester is green status. After close analysis between our tester quality information all my test subjects are closer to the nation average than the main dealer who has huge spikes in the test areas. The only two subjects that I differ away from the national average is the age of vehicle which is 12 years (main dealer 8) and failure rate 48% (main dealer 34%)
    You have stated that the purpose of this new tester rating is to pick up on abnormalities from the national average but in fact you are discriminating against testing older vehicles which have a higher fail rate rather than looking at spikes in the testable areas. If I could choose to only mot newer cars which would then bring my fail rate down and put my average year up I would also be a green tester but unfortunately you will not allow me to do this as I have to mot what ever car the customer presents to me !
    This new rating system as it is will not help to find poor testers but only to descriminate against those who are testing older vehicles as proven by the testing information between an independent mot station and a main dealer station

  2. Comment by David Meredith posted on

    Hi Julia (DVSA)

    Why do you not help the NT to understand the reasons behind the colour (risk rating) change?

    "Your RAG has changed because............."

    • Replies to David Meredith>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi David

      This recent blog post explained more about the risk ratings (RAGs) and how they are calculated.

      A number of things will affect your RAG rating so it’s not possible to be specific in every case. And it won’t be just one thing either.

      This is why we ask you to look at what may have contributed to your particular rating. You should have a look at things like how often you test, the age of the vehicles you test and test quality reports and test logs. Event history, which you can link to from your home profile page will also give you more insight.

  3. Comment by Chris posted on

    obviously the older the vehicle the higher the fail rate will be, so the averages throughout the test areas should in general all be higher and also the length taken to test the vehicle will be longer. Are you taking this into account when working out the testers rating, ie is it on a sliding scale to factor in the increases when dealing with older vehicles?

  4. Comment by El posted on

    Tester ratings , I'm the only tester at my site so do anywhere between 120-150 tests a month and this is normally the only place where I am not close to the national average but have been rated green but over the last 2 months due to the vehicles I've been testing my failure rate has jumped to the high 50's and so I am now rated amber rather than green through no fault of my own.
    We are told to test to standards and use the prs but all people will do is stop using prs for bulbs, washers,wipers etc so it keeps their averages better

    • Replies to El>

      Comment by El posted on

      and suddenly back to green ?? thought ratings only updated at end of the month or am i mistaken??

  5. Comment by col posted on

    For some reason i've now become amber and i'm at a loss to explain why?
    I'm proud that I test to a decent standard, never had any problems or complaints and I always have decent failure rates, time of test etc.
    Seriously not happy with this new system.
    How can I be amber and do 180 to 220 tests a month yet the other lads in the workshop who only test once in a blue moon are green?
    Hate to be big headed but I know i'm a better tester than them and my monthly stats will go a long way to back that claim up.

  6. Comment by David Bolam posted on

    I have gone from amber to red this month, I’ve spoken at length with friends in other mot stations regarding this. My data is closer to the national average than some the only difference I can see is I do 180 tests a month and he does 130 and is green it makes no sense at all

    • Replies to David Bolam>

      Comment by David williams posted on

      Same situation at our testing station.penalised for years of hard work at building your customers up to a level of making a profit to be given a red risk rating for the amount of tests carried out all other categories are inline with the national average!

    • Replies to David Bolam>

      Comment by mark posted on

      ive now gone from red to amber because of the xmas break its daft

      • Replies to mark>

        Comment by David williams posted on

        Interesting too see how many are actually in the green.Our youngest tester has gone from green to amber totally demoralised him as he put every best effort into his job.So many are going to walk away from being part of the mot scheme.

  7. Comment by Scooby doo posted on

    I don’t like the new risk raising for testers i understand it may help where we go wrong but I think the risk raiting will be effected on the type of vehicle we will test if we test new vehicles we will have a low risk raiting if we test old vehicles with a lot of defects it Will make us a higher risk and we have to test what we are presented i don’t think it will be fair

  8. Comment by michael cook posted on

    there is a lot to get your head around

  9. Comment by stephen posted on

    in brief a car came to me for mot repairs, item that concerned me was the inner n/s drive shaft boot/gaiter was perished not split,leaking or able to allow the ingress of dirt ect,the garage in question failed the inner boot and used 6.1.7 (d)i, i questioned this failure as i thought it should be a minor, the tester rang me back having spoken to the mot help line and said he was right to fail by the information given by the help line, i phoned the help line and some lady gave the same answer, i questioned this and explained the item, she gave a sigh and said hold the line, two minutes later she came back and said she spoke to the mot scheme and said the part in question is a minor, need i say more, only if this mot help line reacts like this what chance do we have, and yes the tester should no better as well

  10. Comment by Aubrey posted on

    Using modern technology to help and improve testing standards, there are pluses and minuses depending on ones point of view !
    It's a step forward with the view to help and improve, I for one am in favour .

  11. Comment by D. posted on

    Hi DVSA,
    It is possible to have a search box in "MOT inspection manual for private passenger and light commercial vehicles"
    Many thanks .

    • Replies to D.>

      Comment by Graham posted on

      If you go into the section you want and hit CNTRL + F, then search your word. It wont work from the main screen, but better than nothing.

    • Replies to D.>

      Comment by Stephen Ball posted on

      Cracking idea. Especially seen as they've changed the manual around, it's hard to find things.

  12. Comment by JOHN PATERSON posted on

    I have downloaded the document and will study the contents in more detail at a later time.

  13. Comment by philip baker posted on

    very simple to under stand

  14. Comment by Ralph dade posted on

    This has made it a lot clearer for me to find my way round TQ[.

  15. Comment by Harry posted on

    I have just downloaded, the new test log information and all I can say about it, is GOBBLEDYGOOK!!
    I am an AE, not a robot. If there is an abnormality, you need to high light it. Not expect it to stand out, to an untrained eye amongst all that data.

    • Replies to Harry>

      Comment by mark posted on

      whats the log in spreadsheet form mean doesnt make any sense I am a mot tester not an IT geek

  16. Comment by Martin posted on

    I think DVSA have quite a serious situation developing here with regards agency testers being discriminated against because of their rating.
    It could also affect someones chances of a permanent position if their rating is red/amber through no fault of their own.
    Which means your rating system could/will cause discrimination on the open labour market which IS illegal.

    • Replies to Martin>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Martin
      A number of factors will affect a tester's risk rating and being a particular colour doesn't mean a tester is doing anything wrong. They can establish why they're in that category by looking at test logs and test quality information reports - more information is here: This gives some examples that might affect risk rating. Testers should also look at Event history in their profile. Ratings are updated monthly and can change.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by jooles posted on

        You are not listening ,this will effect are employment chances when we visit new sites ,what is wrong with your organisation cannot you see this ,or have you spent so much money implementing these changes you cannot back track,,,all we want is for you to hide are ratings and use the system how it was intended to be used ,,,,,,,

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by gbr posted on

        am strongly disagreeing with you on this. On this page you state for red and amber risk ratings that the tester" may not be testing to the right standards or following all the right processes" is that not saying that the tester IS doing something wrong

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by dbs posted on

        I agree with Martins comment, the way this is done could affect employment prospect If asked to show a potenional employer there risk score, your choice is not show so may be hiding something, or show and if its not green you might not get the job, you keep repeating that a red or amber don't mean bad tester but you also don't give exact details why or how its worked out. I have been green for past 2 months but do thing this system will cause a lot of un happy testers in a situation where there is already a shortage

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Martin posted on

        I know how to access the information and how to interpret it.
        The problem (of which there are at least two examples in this blog) is that prospective employers will not go to the trouble of looking at it if the NT they are potentially going to employ on a temp or full time basis is going to mess up their nice green rated VTS.
        As I said you have a problem looming.

  17. Comment by mark posted on

    yahoo gone from amber to red now feel very confused, its ok saying you probably wont be doing anything so why have the ratings