Some garages are using recent changes in the MOT system to ‘hold drivers to ransom’, according to a leading UK warranty provider.

A new MOT testing structure was introduced earlier this year, bringing with it new fault categories that depend on how severe the problem is.

Research from vehicle warranty firm Motor Easy has discovered that some unscrupulous garages are taking advantage of consumer confusion surrounding the new tests. The company says there’s evidence that garages are ‘bullying’ drivers into having repairs carried out immediately by telling them that they cannot drive the car away.

While it’s true that driving an unsafe vehicle is punishable by a fine and penalty points, it is also perfectly legal to drive a car without an MOT to or from a pre-arranged MOT test appointment or an appointment to have vehicle defects remedied.

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Garages have no power to stop customers taking their vehicle away from the test centre, regardless of the severity of an MOT failure.

‘We would, naturally, never condone driving on public roads with a dangerous car and anyone who does so will still be risking a fine and penalty points if they are stopped by police,’ explained MotorEasy founder, Duncan McClure Fisher. ‘However, we've already seen examples of garages using an interpretation of the wording in the DVSA guidance to bully motorists to get repairs done before leaving the premises, which they've no right to do.

‘Unscrupulous businesses could not only make customers feel they’re unable to take their car away if it fails, but could also hold the customer to ransom over parts and labour prices as a result. After all, if you think you can’t drive the car away, you lose all your negotiation power.’