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Kimberley Dodge

September 27, 2019

Driving advice Owning a car Young driver stories 6 min read

Fear. Dread. Horror. No, I’m not talking about the rush of panic when you spot a spider in your bedroom. I’m talking about the stab of fright that pierces your heart when you hear the receptionist on the phone mumble those six terrifying words.

‘Your car has failed it’s MOT’

At that moment, it feels as if the ground has swallowed you whole; the earth itself is imploding; the universe is spiralling into devastation. As hopelessness and desperation begin to set in, you trudge back to the garage to assess the severity of your MOT nightmare.

This spine-chilling scene, that feels like it comes straight out of a horror film, was recently experienced by myself. And unfortunately, the outcome was definitely a nightmare for me… and my bank account.

Being the teenager and unorganised human being that I am, I inevitably left booking my MOT to three days before it expired (something that I would not recommend doing). After panicking and loathing myself for my laziness, I quickly and effortlessly booked an M.O.T online at a well-known garage. My wide-eyed and naïve self was led to believe that all my problems had been solved, but any avid horror movie watcher knows that this is how it all begins.

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting my car to fail – it drove perfectly fine and nothing suggested that there was anything wrong with it. However, when you’re trying to maintain an older vehicle, there’s always a chance of something unexpected causing it to fail its MOT. Therefore, I would recommend always being apprehensive when having your car tested, as it is always possible that there is something wrong with it unbeknown to the naked eye, as I was to discover.

After enjoying a nice hot drink at the café opposite the garage and meandering around the shops, completely oblivious to the approaching devastation, I received the dreaded phone call. With the façade of a fuss-free pass shattered, I solemnly headed back to the garage to gain the full picture of my problems.


Where the problems began…

Just to emphasise matters, the receptionist continued to stress how my car’s suspension was defective, and that my exhaust also needed repairing. Although, the nightmare was only about to get worse once she also informed me that the garage couldn’t repair it. This shocked me a little, as I had expected them to be able to fix any issues had my car failed, yet I was now left with a damaged car, a failed MOT, and nowhere to fix it. Not to sour the reputation of any MOT garages, but I did feel as though I wasn’t given much assistance: I was simply told that the car was unfixable, undrivable and after inquiring about where else may be able to repair it, I was met with a simple shrug of the shoulders.

Having no alternative, I had to drive home my car with those exact words rattling around my head in overdrive. During the journey home, I repetitively rambled to myself about all my options. I arrived at an ultimatum: if I couldn’t find somewhere to repair it for less than the price of a new car, then I would scrap it and buy a cheap run around to see me through the year until my insurance ran out.

As soon as I arrived home, I rang up a local and trustworthy garage that my stepdad raves about, praying that they may be able to offer me some consolation. Thankfully, the wonderful receptionist informed me that my car was fixable; it felt as though the universe was beginning to smile on me again. With the cost of repairs estimating to be less than having to fork out for a new car, I took my car to the garage a day later (it was still MOT’d so I was fine to drive it… just) believing, again naively, that all would be well.


You’ve got to be kidding me?!

When the number for the garage rang up on my phone, I ignorantly answered it believing that my car would simply be ready for collection. I was wrong. The universe wasn’t finished with me yet. I was depressingly informed that, what had been noted down as a simple exhaust repair on the failed MOT certificate, actually required the entire underside of my car to be replaced, racking up the total expenses to double what I was originally quoted. Left with little alternative, I woefully agreed, solemnly handing over my debit card to the screams of my savings account.

However, parting with my hard-earned cash drew a close to the end of this ordeal. The next day, I took my car back to the original MOT garage for a (thankfully) free retest and I was reunited with my little Fiat. Even though it was a pricey ordeal, I am happy to have my car back safe and sound, and I’m hoping that these repairs will mean that it stands the test of time and lasts me a few more years. Despite being a horrifying and expensive experience, I have learnt that, just because it doesn’t feel broken, it doesn’t mean that your car is going to pass its MOT. I would advise anyone, particularly those who own older cars, to be prepared for all outcomes both mentally and financially. Equally, never give in to the inevitable feelings of hopelessness, as there are always multiple options for you to repair or replace your car if it fails.

Oh, and don’t leave booking your MOT to three days before it expires.

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Kimberley Dodge profile

By Kimberley Dodge

'For me, driving means freedom. I passed my test a year ago and so I’ve been enjoying getting where I want, when I want. I’m now 18, so having my own car has given me a lot more independence: I no longer have to rely on the taxi of mum and dad!'  See more posts by Kimberley

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