How much do MOT Tests cost - the problem with £25 MOTs
The Government sets the maximum price for MOT tests. Currently, it's set at £54.85 for cars.
That’s why if you just walk in off the street and ask a garage the cost of a MOT, unless they have a big sign up offering a different price, they will probably say £54.85. It’s also why most main dealers charge £54.85 even though their labour rate per hour is much higher. It’s why all rural garages, with little competition, charge the odd sounding figure of £54.85.
Yet if you go online, you will find lots of independent garages offering £25 and even £19 MOT tests. This can even include collection and delivery. This might seem like too good a deal to pass up. Less than half price and you don’t even have to leave home. But unless you are a mechanic, or related to one, you should be very wary of these offers. Here’s why:
An average MOT test time is around 45 minutes.
If you live just 5 miles from the garage it is a ten mile round trip for collection and the same again for return:
- So it is 10 miles in their car (using fuel)
- 10 miles on your car
- it costs the garage 30 mins in lost labour time
Garages have only two ways to make money. The first is an hourly labour rate. The second is a margin added to parts.
So the entire job takes an hour and 15 minutes on average.
The garage has:
- building (rent or mortgage)
- employer’s national insurance (10% on top of the salaries)
- testing equipment (a MOT station costs a minimum £20,000+VAT to fit out)
- lighting & heating
- various essential insurance (public liability, employer’s liability, building and contents policies) to pay for
If they are not in a prominent high street location they also have advertising to pay for.
The classic business model that ensures this kind of garage will be a sustainable employer is based on working out all these costs, and charging customers a rate based on approximately a third for staff costs, a third for all the costs listed above and a third for profit.
Remember, garages have only two ways to make money. The first is an hourly labour rate. The second is a margin added to parts.
The average independent garage charges £45 per hour and makes up to 15%-25% on parts. In a typical hour of service and repairs this translates to £15-25 income from parts. So you can estimate that every hour of trading generates £60 to £70 of revenue, of which £40 - £46 is lost to costs with £20 - £24 profit.
How Are Garages Making Money?
So if the MOT test, collection and delivery, takes an hour and a quarter, it has cost the garage a minimum of £50 and they have made no profit. If you drop the car off, then the MOT costs the garage £30 without making a profit.
Now, knowing the reputation that garages generally have, why do you think some garages are prepared to not just miss out on an hour’s profit, but actually lose £20 to £30 on every MOT booking?
It’s because they intend to make up for it with repair work from your MOT failures.
That’s not to say bogus MOT results is not the big issue, that is carefully monitored by DVSA. The issue is the repair quote and quality of work.
Assuming that your car has failed fairly, a garage with a sensible pricing policy isn’t under so much pressure to make money on the repair. These garages are more likely to try and repair something than insist on replacement. Garages with greater MOT discounts usually want to replace parts to earn the 25% margin.
Garages trying to claw back losses on the MOT are, in our experience, more likely to exaggerate how bad a problem is, recommend replacing more parts than are really needed, quote for more labour time than the manufacturer states is necessary and more likely to have a bigger margin on the parts too.
In summary, if a garage offers you an MOT for less than £30, be cautious. If they offer collection and delivery included for free, be very cautious.
Unless you are sufficiently technical that you will know if the repair quote for a failure is fair, the £20 saving at the start can cost you hundreds of pounds in the long run.
Plus, in our experience, these ‘under pressure’ garages are more likely to make mistakes and be late returning your car.
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