SVA Test - December 3rd 2001

I am pleased to announce that my car passed its SVA test at its first attempt. The picture was taken at the Derby SVA centre immediately following my pass. Despite hearing many horror stories about the SVA test, I was pleasantly surprised by the common sense approach taken by my tester.

Below the picture, you will find a report of my SVA test and subsequent registration.

Paul's car after passing SVA

Many months before my SVA test, I had predicted that no matter when my SVA test was, the weather would be wet. Around a week before my test, I started keeping an eye on the weather forecast. It started off by saying it was going to be wet and cold, but gradually improved. It was still cold, but was a few degrees above freezing and, most importantly was dry.

Dad followed in the support car full to the brim with all tools, fluids, tape and trim pieces as possible.

We left at around 7:45am for Derby SVA station, a trip of 30 miles. I filled up with petrol at the garage down the road and then went on our way, across country avoiding Loughborough town centre. I stopped a couple of times on the way to check the car out. The first time was to check a strange feeling in the left steering, and then Dad suggested it might have been ice on the road as he had felt the left hand side of his car go light too. The other time was as we were going into Shepshed and my mind went blank as to where I was going so I had to check out the map.

The only problem en-route was the idle seemed a little high at around 1750 rpm, despite having set it correctly on Saturday.

We got to the test station at 8:55am, for the 9:00am appointment, so I took the opportunity to sort out the idle. After twiddling the idle screws I couldn't get anything less than 1500 rpm and Dad pointed out that the throttle stop was stopping the pedal going back far enough. A couple of minutes later the idle was showing at between the 750 and 1000 rpm mark.

I was asked to pull the car up into the right hand SVA testing lane. There was an imported Honda Civic going through an SVA when I got there, so I had to wait around. I took an opportunity to clean the car up a bit as the rear wings in particular had got a bit dirty.

At 9:15am the tester, called Cameron, previously from the Birmingham SVA centre asked me to pull into the bay. There was another person with him who turned out was normally an HGV tester. He had gone for a promotion to the next pay level and the test was about 40% related to the SVA, which he had never done, so he was being shown through the tests. This made it very useful for Dad as he heard what they are really looking for in the test.

Cameron started by checking the chassis number, then did the speedometer accuracy test. I got a bit worried by the printout as I thought the first speed was tested at 30 mph and my result said the actual speed was 33 mph. Cameron said that they test at an indicated 35, 40, 50, 60 and 70 mph. My results were 33, 38, 48, 58 and 69, which was a pass. The engine number was then checked, and then I remembered I also wanted an MOT. I asked him about it and they both disappeared for around 15 minutes. When they came back he said I would have to pay £15.00 and go round again for the MOT at the end of the SVA.

The next test was the exhaust emissions, this was one of my three concern areas that I couldn't test, the others being noise and brakes. I expected it to sail through as it had to manage fewer than 3.5% CO and under 1200 HC PPM. It came in at 0.35% CO and 74 HC PPM. Incidentally for post August 1995 engines that the test states require a catalytic converter, the pass values are 0.5% CO and 200 HC PPM which it would also have sailed through - and it didn't have a cat fitted!

Interestingly, Cameron showed me a section on the MOT Testers manual (Emissions - section 6.4) that states that Amateur Build vehicles and Kit Cars should be tested with a visual inspection only for emissions, regardless of registration, at any future MOT tests.

Next up were the measurements of wheelbase, light positions, seat positions etc. The radiuses were next. He explained to the other tester how to use all of the balls and radius gauges and then proceeded to say how the car looked fine and checking with the gauge was a waste of time. The rear lights were checked and then came the seatbelts, which passed. Using the standard seat pads, the harness mounting points are around 10mm higher than the minimum allowable height, so it would have passed with harnesses.

I drove the car onto the ramps and had to stay in the car whilst the ramps were raised. I commented on not being able to see under the car, so after the handbrake and steering were tested, the ramps were lowered and I could have a good look underneath the car.

Despite what I had been told previously about the MOT, Cameron explained that the only extra test was the front bearings, so up went the ramp again and this was checked.

The final inside test was the weights and brakes. The front came in at 340kg and the rear at 318kg, giving a total weight of 658kg. That was with windscreen etc. fitted and a full tank of fuel, but some weight saving bits such as an alloy bell housing (which saves around 10kg) and the smaller drums from a 1600cc Sierra. I have no idea what the numbers from the brake test meant, but the right rear appeared to be around 15% more effective than the left rear. My initial front/rear brake bias setting, which had been locked, was set perfectly so the fronts would lock before the rears.

The last two parts of the test were conducted outside. Cameron drove the car round the SVA station and parked on a marked out area to check the mirrors, he adjusted them a bit, but didn't get out and measure anything. Finally was the noise test. At an indicated 4500 rpm, as requested by Cameron, I was reading 102dB, which was above the 101dB required to pass. I made some comment about how I was gutted and asked what I could do to make it quieter and he said it was a cold day so he would give it to me.

I have since found out that the test should have been carried out at an indicated 4125 rpm, rather than the 4500 it was tested at and also that my rev counter was faulty and was under reading. The indicated 4500 rpm was actually around 5000 rpm, so the noise test was performed at 875 rpm too high which is noticeably louder.

I was then asked to park the car round at the front of the SVA station, pay for my MOT and wait in reception. As I had been 'given' the noise result, I was feeling very hopeful of a pass, but still had to wait. At 11:40 I paid for the MOT and then waited. Twenty minutes later Cameron came through and said there was bad news, it had passed. He handed me the SVA certificate, a copy of it and the MOT.

We took a few photos of the car at the SVA centre, and then had a sandwich and a warm coffee. We then set off for home. The journey wasn't too bad, but the wind had picked up a bit and consequently I was having trouble seeing if I did at anything above 60 mph on the A50 dual carriageway. We got home at around 1:15pm, put all of the tools and the car into the garage and shot off to the VRO in Nottingham. We picked Mum up on the way.

At the VRO, the person behind the counter was very helpful. He helped me fill in the V55/5 and V627/1, the appropriate paperwork was handed over along with a cheque for £185.00 (£160.00 tax and £25.00 registration fee) and within half an hour I had the car registered with my pre bought age related plate A17 YGR. I had two sets of number plates made up already, one with the legal spacing and font and another set for show use with an illegal spacing and font showing it as A1 7YGR.

For details on registering a kit car, along with example completed forms, please see the kit car registration page.

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