Never trust the media. That may seem like a strange comment from a journalist. But is true – well partially. Never trust the tabloid media. Trade media can be trusted – especially Auto Repair Focus… cheeky plug!
Why am I saying this? Well, recently a story ran on the website of the Daily Express concerning MOT failures regarding lighting. Simple enough, the vast majority of MOT fails are related to blown bulbs and faulty connections. The piece also included comments from motoring organisations – the ususal thing: check your bulbs before your MOT, lighting is important in winter etc.
But one comment caught the eye of readers on social media. Apparently, the AA told the Daily Express that you only need one working headlight to pass the MOT. As we all know, you need both. So how could the AA, one of the country’s biggest roadside assistance services and motoring brands, get something so wrong when speaking to a big media outlet? It turns out, they didn’t.
Having spoken to the AA about this, it appears they were not even aware they had been quoted. It seems the journalist who put together the article looked for the organisation’s advice on their website and got mixed up between headlights and number plate lights.
“Headlights are one of the most important components on vehicles and it is very important that drivers keep checking them,” Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, told me. “Considering they are cheap and easy to fit, we encourage drivers to regularly check their headlights not just when the MOT is due.”
Do not trust
So here is the evidence – journalists on the big tabloids, those that require clickbait headlines to get views, do not speak to people but search and lift quotes from websites. That approach not only destabilises trust in the organisation but leads to problems when it comes to customers themselves.
Let’s face it, many drivers are not that clued up on what they need to do in order to ensure an MOT pass. If they were, bulbs and tyres would be way down the list of failures, not up high. Therefore, wrong information leaves drivers uninformed. If they think they only need one headlight working, what is the point of replacing a bulb before the test in the first place?
It is up to the aftermarket, it seems, to educate. Based on my conversation with the AA, they will be advising the Daily Express to amend their article, to ensure there is no confusion about MOT requirements. Drivers really cannot trust the press it seems – instead they need to listen to professionals – people who live and breathe the automotive industry.
And decent, hard-working online trade publications as well…