Keeping the code

The Garage Equipment Association revised its 'code of conduct' for both its members and engineers earlier in the year. We caught up with head man Dave Garratt to find out how it will affect your MOT centre

Published:  09 September, 2013

Q: Why did you feel there was a need to review your code of conduct?

In fact, there are two codes, one for all members and one for members who supply engineers. We felt it was necessary to introduce a code for our members, it lays down exactly what we expect of a GEA member and is extremely useful when settling disputes, for example, if a garage owner is not happy with a piece of equipment he can use our association to act as a negotiator between the member and himself. It gets more complex than that, because we often find that the problem is not with the equipment, but with the installation. We then work with all parties to find an agreement that will suit all. As a last resort, we pay in to the official arbitration scheme through the RMI - but it has never been necessary to use it.

Meanwhile, we have accredited something like 370 lift engineers and around 50 MOT calibration engineers. We also introduced a code of conduct for engineers because we became aware from VOSA and from feedback from garages that in some instances corners were being cut during brake tester calibration.

You've got 18,500 or so test stations and to do it overnight isn't going to happen. You are talking about an awful lot of investment. The Department for Transport do not like increasing the test fee (it hasn't increased since April 2010), bearing in mind that all other expenses have gone up for test stations but our income remains static. Who would really want to invest in new equipment in conditions like this? You are talking not far off £20,000 for an ATL lane and you have to do quite a number of tests to justify that. Plus, most people have to discount the test fee to stay in business.

Some years ago they were talking about bringing in machinery to test shock absorbers but that went by the by. You have to accept that you are going to get different test results if the parts of the MOT remain subjective and there is nothing (as a tester) you can do about that. We are not allowed to use recommended service parameters for brake discs for example, it has to be 'in the tester's opinion' the disc is worn excessively. If somebody has been brought up servicing late BMWs then just a small lip for them would be excessive. Even if they did they would increase the time and we'd be demanding an increase in the test fee - plus you are not allowed to remove wheels in the test, so I can't see [VOSA] going down that route.

Training will help - the new computerised system will offer a lot of online training which I see as a good thing. There will be no more waiting years to go on a refresher course - the info will be right there.

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