Its almost that time of year again, the time when all good Car God fearing drivers roll the bones, shake the seaweed and cross various fingers and toes while a man in an overall decides the fate of their beloved for the next twelve months. The life or death of a car rests in the hands of the MOT man and yes you guessed it, my MX-5 is about to go up on the ramps for the first time in my ownership of it.
Every time I put a car in for its MOT I get nervous, and that really got me thinking. Why the hell do I worry? If the guy is a total jerk and fails it on a lightbulb then apart from being an inconvenience its an easy fix. If however he finds that the chassis is so rotten only the twenty year old mud is holding it together, I should be grateful to him for saving my life and the life of others.
My car is well maintained, all the bits work and I am regularly underneath it poking at something or the other so any huge holes that appear in the important bits I should notice and take care of. Of course I can’t possibly spot everything, I don’t have the test equipment for things like lights and handbrakes but generally the car is in good shape, so why is it that I panic? I worry about this more than when the kids were being born.
I guess its the murky world or mechanic finance that scares me. Scientists have proven the existence of the Higgs particle, but they cannot explain where garages come up with their figures following a failed test. This is probably the most terrifying experience anyone that loves their car but is always a bit short on cash can endure. Every note on the fail sheet will be at least £1,000,000.00 and if it runs to two pages, then both you and the car have no alternative other than enter into a suicide pact.
More interesting still is the award of the golden advisory sheet, this can be a better feeling than getting a clean pass as you know two things have happened in the past 45 minutes. 1. The MOT guy is an alright bloke, who understands your plight and even sympathises with you. He is now your best mate and you will crawl over molten lava with your flies unzipped in gratitude. 2. You now have a goal, something that actually needs fixing rather than the phantom repairs you have been fiddling with, as topping up the radiator by 2ml each month was stretching it.
So how can we make things better? Good garages are hard to find these days and as more and more older cars are getting priced off of the road, lease cars are becoming a possibility as from £99 a month you can drag yourself around in a base model eurobox that will remove the MOT fear and will probably not break down in its three year lease time. All this does is push the passion for cars, car ownership and driving generally down to such a level that owning an older car, or indeed a second car puts you in the realm of fanatical lunacy.
My MX5 has failed every MOT its had for the past 10 years according to its history, with the exception of the last one (when I bought it) Each fail has been rectified the next day by the same garage, charging the poor guy anywhere from £50 to over £300 and each time he has paid it and enjoyed the car for another year. This means that either the car is a bag of crap (which its not) the garage he was using saw him as a cash cow (entirely possible) or the last MOT bloke took one heck of a bribe. Either way we will know by Saturday afternoon if Im going around topless in the sun or £300 poorer, but either way my little Roadster is staying by my side.