More than 450 incorrect MOT certificates issued per day - these are the mistakes that could cost you thousands

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New figures reveal scale of amendments made by garages and the mistakes that could leave drivers out of pocket

More than 450 incorrect MOT certificates are issued by test centres every day, according to a new study of official data.

While many drivers might not worry about discrepancies as long as the paperwork records a pass, mistakes on an MOT certificate can cause problems for owners further down the road and potentially cost them thousands of pounds.

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Issues such as incorrect mileage or a mix-up in the car’s identity can lead to issues at the next MOT or affect values an owner tries to sell a car, so it’s important to check your records straight after the test.

The data was gathered from the DVSA by comparison site Lease Fetcher, which looked at the number of amended MOT certificates between January 2018 and May 2021.

It found that 561,851 MOT certificates were amended during this timeframe.

By far the most common issue was a mistake with the vehicle’s mileage, accounting for 51% of all corrections submitted. In total, 285,724 certificates were amended for incorrect odometer values between 2018 and 2021.

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A further 53,000 were adjusted after the odometer unit was accidentally switched, from miles to kilometres or the other way round.

If uncorrected, mileage errors can subsequently cause problems with MOT testers and potential buyers who will rightly question why the car’s odometer does not match the MOT history.

Such inconsistencies can make it harder to sell and car and an innocent mistake on the MOT certificate can also have a financial impact. A large part of a car’s depreciation is based on its mileage, with higher-mile vehicles losing more of their value.

Using a 2019 Volkswagen Golf as an example, Lease Fetcher estimates that a “first digit” error could slash 10% off the car’s value. With an incorrect odometer reading of 35,000 miles instead of 25,000, the car would lose £2,454.

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More damaging is the switching of the first two digits - easily done with a slip of the hand. A Golf listed with 52,000 miles is worth an estimated £6,000 less than one with 25,000 miles.

The second most common error was a mix-up over the certificate’s expiry date, accounting for almost a fifth of corrections.

An accidental error on a MOT certificate can have a long-term impact An accidental error on a MOT certificate can have a long-term impact
An accidental error on a MOT certificate can have a long-term impact | Shutterstock

However, more serious mistakes that can make it harder to sell a car in future also figured prominently.

Almost 29,000 certificates were corrected because the VIN on the certificate didn’t match that on the car, while a further 28,708 included the wrong registration mark. If left uncorrected these could cause a serious headache when it’s time to sell, as could the 28,500 incidents when the make, model or class of the vehicle has been inputted wrongly.

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The advice if you spot an error on your vehicle’s MOT certificate is to contact your test centre as soon as possible, especially if there’s an issue with the odometer reading.

If you catch the error within a month, the test centre should be able to check the mileage and issue a corrected certificate. However, after 28 days you’ll need to contact the DVSA and provide evidence of the mistake.

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