Fast fit centres

  mark2 16:49 30 Aug 2008

And women drivers, do they see them coming ?

No names, but today in my day job as an MOT tester I came across a particularly horrendous case of (in my opinion) ripping off, overselling, upselling, call it what you will.

A young lady went to one of the fast fit tyre centres that advertise nationwide, she was aware that one tyre was wearing badly on the inner edge and asked for advice on one of the other tyres as regards the MOT.

She left their premises with 5 tyres, New brake discs and brake pads, and the tracking adjusted and a comment that a suspension arm may fail the MOT. Such a shame that in their zeal to upsell they didn't cure the fault that caused the tyre wear and I find it particularly disgusting that they carried out the tracking adjustment and charged for it knowing the suspension arm bush was completely detached, see click here and once the arm is replaced the tracking will need adjusting again. Looking for more sales perhaps ? Rogues like this bring the whole garage trade into disrepute.

She wasn't a customer of ours beforehand but somehow I think she'll be a regular now.

I've heard of several other horror stories but this is the first I have had 1st hand knowledge of.

  jack 16:56 30 Aug 2008

In in these situations ?
Is there a reporting procedure in the trade about such practices?

  Pineman100 17:08 30 Aug 2008

That's disgraceful, and should be reported to Trading Standards IMO.

  mkennyd 17:09 30 Aug 2008

I was discussted to read the way someone can be so easily ripped off. I took my car for an MOT two days ago, it failed, the car had been in a slight bump and apparently the left headlight was pointing down and slightly too the right, I was told to get it fixed which i will knowing it's an important safety feature of the car.As an MOT mechanic can i ask you how stringent they are on headlamp alignment, do they like shine the lights at some target or something, The car past the test on every other aspect and would have thought that the test station would have passed the car only to advise me to fix the light problem ASAP.

  mrwoowoo 17:31 30 Aug 2008

They do indeed shine it at a target.
If you look in your car manual,if you have one it will tell you how to do it in there.
At night you park a certain distance from a wall and the beam should shine a set distance up and at a set angle.
You could do this and set the height as per the other headlight since this one passed.
Try a mates car against the wall and set as far to the left as his,which should be enough to get you through the MOT.
You could ask the tester to align it for you if it fails again, before hand,just in case, as mine would have failed on that but the tester did it for me and passed it.

  mark2 17:33 30 Aug 2008

The only thing I could do in this case was to make the customer aware that, possibly she didn't need so much done, she WOULD need the tracking done again or the tyres on the front would rapidly wear out on the opposite edge. I also suggested she contact trading standards in her own town, and to contact the head office of the company concerned. Unfortunately the young lady didn't request the return of the old tyres/components, if she had she may have "evidence" to supply to anyone interested. I have supplied her with the picture in the click here, and if requested i'll also supply a written statement and copy of the fail sheet. Hopefully she will take it further and get some recompense. We replaced the arm, reset the tracking and were able to issue a new MOT and supplied a detailed invoice.

The young lady didn't have her invoice detailing the work done on her car but the evidence I saw bears out tracking, 5 tyres and new discs and pads, not cheap (or value for money) from a fast fit centre. Before the car was even on the ramp I knew there was a problem with that suspension arm, and once inspection got underway I knew she'd been to a fast fit centre and been "stitched up" within the last couple of days (clean threads on the tie rods, no wear on tyres or discs)

Personally, seeing the condition of the rest of the car I cannot believe all that work was required.

I'm still seething about it 6 hrs later and she wasn't even known to me beforehand.

If it had been another testing station I would have had recourse to mention it to our VOSA area office and they would be able to look into it. However many of the fast fit centres dotted around do have testing stations on site hopefully they aren't as bad and do obey the rules.

  mkennyd 17:41 30 Aug 2008

thanks mrwoowoo
Thats a good tip about the wall test so i can take it that the mechanic will automatically do this test after he has refitted adjusted the beam,
afterall the test depends on his judgement.

  mark2 17:48 30 Aug 2008

We have a headlamp aim/beam setter which has a diagram of the pass/fail criteria and it is a simple yes/no scenario, if it's in the correct area we pass, if not fail, this is one case like emissions where the limits are laid down by law.

however we are allowed nowadays to adjust the headlamps if required while we conduct the test. In the case of a knock it may not be possible to adjust the aim to within limits because of mounting panel damage, or as I've found once or twice the reflector has "sprung" off the mountings inside the headlamp unit.

  mkennyd 17:57 30 Aug 2008

thanks for info regarding the test measure of the headlights, least now i know what tolerance is needed on the repair work.

  spuds 19:26 30 Aug 2008

These sort of incident require reporting to Trading Standards, but having said that, I find in most cases the Trading Standards cannot or will not do much about it.

A letter to head office might bring a result and perhaps a goodwill gesture!.

  crosstrainer 20:01 30 Aug 2008

I have never trusted any "Independent" car testing garage.

I use dealerships, and a couple of specialist BMW dealers.

I am, also clued up....

I feel sorry for the individual in question, but a reporting system would be a very good idea.

Perhaps you could initiate one?

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