How to Manage the MOT Risk Rating at Your Garage

The Ultimate guide to MOT risk ratings

How to manage and control your MOT risk rating with a quality management system (QMS).

I recently spoke to two owner-operators of MOT vehicle testing stations who were confused and worried about their red MOT risk rating. Confused as to how their red risk rating was calculated and worried because they did not know how to reduce it.

Many MOT garage owners, authorised examiners (AE) and site managers have concerns that I address in this blog.

  • What is an MOT risk rating?
  • What is the purpose of risk ratings?
  • How is a risk rating calculated?
  • How you can manage your risk rating?
  • I have a red risk rating, what do I do?

What is an MOT risk rating?

The DVSA have a system to calculate the risk that a tester or test station might not deliver the correct outcome of an MOT test. The out come of an MOT might not be correct if the tester or the MOT Centre do not apply the correct testing methods and standards as dictated by the DVSA.  This might be a conscious decision on the part of the tester or the garage or it might be a lack of knowledge or even laziness or incompetence.

A risk rating is NOT a measure of performance or an indicator that you are doing anything wrong.

What is the purpose of risk ratings?

The DVSA have limited resources and a lot of ground to cover.  They are responsible for the delivery of over 30 million MOT tests every year in the UK.  The risk rating is a statistical method to identify where they should best spend their time. They are trying to detect fraudulent MOT testers, testers not applying correct standards and testers who are otherwise most likely to give the incorrect result of an MOT.

The MOT is a safety test performed yearly on most of the vehicles in the country. For this reason we enjoy some of the safest roads in the world. If standards fall then there are potentially life threatening vehicles driving around putting peoples lives at risk.

Good garages and good testers will see less of the DVSA vehicle examiners (VE) whilst efforts are concentrated on weeding out the bad garages and testers.  The risk rating is like a torch the DVSA can use to highlight potential bad practice saving them time and money. For that reason i think risk ratings are here to stay.

How is an MOT risk rating calculated?

Your risk rating Score is calculated from the data on a combination of the following.

  • Testers risk rating
  • Site review
  • Site history

Unfortunately, it is not known the proportion of each of the elements that will be taken to make up the overall score for the garage. From what we can gather it will be weighted quite heavily towards the testers making up the bulk of the score.

Testers Risk Rating

An individual risk rating is given to each tester at your MOT Centre. This is calculated by comparing their test quality information to national averages. The further from the national average the tester’s information is the higher the risk rating.

It is also calculated from the results of any unsatisfactory inspections or incidents.

Site Review

A site audit or assessment is now called a site review. A risk assessment inspection by the vehicle examiner on behalf of the DVSA will look for evidence of good practice. They will review the following five areas and will score the garage accordingly.


The site assessor will look for evidence that your MOT Centre is well managed, maintained and operated – and will risk score accordingly.


The VE or site assessor will evaluate the operation of your VTS as part of their review.


Site assessors will gauge the knowledge of both the NTs, the AE and site managers during their evaluation.


DVSA will assess the processes and management that you use to keep customers fully informed. Additionally, the customer facilities will be checked during the visit.

Site History

The outcome of any unsatisfactory visits or incidents in the past that have resulted in action from the DVSA

How to manage your risk rating?

Essentially the best way to manage and control your MOT centre’s risk rating is to improve your testers and your MOT stations’ ability to deliver the correct outcome of an MOT test. The best advice we can give you is to look at every aspect of your garage and the processes. Make sure you are applying the correct methods and standards as decreed by the DVSA.

This should cover all the areas mentioned above in the site review section. You should also ensure your testers are fully trained and qualified and are applying the correct methods to the correct standard.  Application of a Quality Management System across your VTS is highly recommended.

Implementing Quality Management Systems (QMS)

A Quality Management System can significantly improve the management of your MOT Garage and therefore reduce your risk score in the eyes of the DVSA.

“AE’s benefit from having a quality management system (QMS) at each of their VTS’s. The type of QMS approach adopted by an AE should help to ensure that testing standards and good management practices are in place.”

DVSA – MOT Risk Reduction Guide – updated 22 Nov 2017

I have a red Risk Rating, what do I do?

The official advice is don’t panic. The same advice dispensed by Corporal Jones on stressful occasions.

According to Chris Price in his Matters of Testing blog of 14th June 2019 this is the correct course of action. A red rating does not necessarily mean that the DVSA will be knocking on your door any time soon. If you have been up to no good then they probably will be. What they will do, however, is monitor the situation and if your figures do not change they may pay you a visit.

You need to take a red Risk Rating seriously. If it persists for several months you will need to understand what is causing it.

Examine Test Quality Information (TQI)

If your rating has recently changed from green or amber to red then something has changed in the testing methods or routines employed at your garage. You should be able to work this out with your testers. Your testers should be downloading their TQI data and looking for anomalies or changes in their failure rates.

Examine test logs

You should also be downloading and looking into your station test logs and looking for anything that might have changed recently. Test logs only present certain information. There is, however, other information that can be gleaned from your test logs with deeper statistical analysis which may provide you with the answers you are looking for.  Dig deep and look for anything that might be the reason for a red rating score.

Implement a QMS

You should also look to be installing quality management systems within your MOT business. A QMS can help you manage and control the processes and procedures involved in running an MOT station.  Although it might not be a quick fix it is the right thing to do. It will make your business stronger and more efficient in the long run.

Don’t forget we can help you if you need to get your risk rating under control.  MOT Juice is a subscription based suite of software tools. It is designed by testers to help testers operate and manage their MOT business.

MOT Juice is QMS software to help you manage your risk rating

Management oversight system for all tester performance

  • Training
  • CPD
  • Annual Assessments
  • QC Checks

Management oversight system for VTS performance regards

  • Equipment Calibrations
  • Site Reviews

MOT Juice can help you apply a QMS to your business

  • Stay compliant to DVSA standards
  • Record, Measure, Plan and Improve
  • Reduce your risk rating score
  • Download and analyse TQI and Test Logs

MOT Juice delivers and records

  • Compulsory MOT Training – monthly e-learning modules
  • Continuous Professional Development
  • Annual Assessments
  • Equipment details and calibrations
  • Site Reviews including recommendations for improvements and follow up action
  • QC Checks including feedback, remedial action and tester

Call us today on 01293 911120 to find out more about how MOT Juice can help you put Quality Management Systems in place to help you control and manage your risk ratings.

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Author: seanthemac

When not trying to tear the chicken strips off his Ducati’s tyres, Sean can be found coordinating the production of our training and CPD, keeping tabs on the finances, writing content for our blogs, guiding our marketing efforts and working with the team to plan out future development and evolution of MOT Juice.

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