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~ My SVA Experience ~

This is how my SVA day went from start to finish (April 1st 2003) .

Got up at 6:15 for an early start as my test was at 8:00 and was 15 miles away so just in case I run into trouble or traffic at least I would arrive on time. Looked out of the window and as I suspected, it was raining but only just so that wasn't too bad.
Got into the car and first thing I noticed was the brake warning light was not going out, not a good start. I discovered I hadn't refitted the cap on the reservoir.

Note: When it's your turn, check, check and check again (I didn't as you've guessed).

Traffic wasn't too bad but I didn't want to risk anything breaking so I took it easy but not easy enough as it started to overheat. I could tell it was April fools day as somebody must have been having a laugh somewhere. Cooled engine and filled up with water again then off we went with my Girlfriend riding shotgun. Got to the petrol station to fill up and cooled off engine again. I was having some problems with the cooling system, think the previous owner had fitted the electric water pump backwards but it was too late to do anything about it now but take it even easier.

Five miles to go and oops! overheating again, not even the cold weather and light rain would keep the temp down but I had 10 mins to go for my appointment and nothing was going to stop me so filled up and off AGAIN.  Eventually got there in one piece and he was waiting for me but 2 mins late was no problem.

Seemed a nice guy and he went straight into the emission test at which point I stopped him and informed him this was a smoke test only (thank god I read the manual), this is a 1972 engine and does not need an emission test so part one passed - hee hee.

Then came the dreaded ball thing checking radiuses and edgings. Luckily for me, I've read a few and produced a check list to which I abided and I passed that with a breeze, he said he could see it was well prepared within the first few minutes.

Note: If they see you have made an effort, the tester is a little more lenient on picky things.

Engine bay inspection, seat belts and light position was then checked. He thought he had me on the indicator position with the stems being so short but I pointed out this was a narrow body and they were well within the 400mm from the outside of the body, 1 - 0 to me.

Note: Did you know that the force on a 3 point harness in a 30mph crash can be anything from 1 - 1.5 ton pressure so make sure you get them right and the bolts go right through the bosses, lots of cars fail on this apparently.

Next up, onto the ramp with a little caution as my sump is only 3.5 inches from Mother Earth. He gave me a little speaker so I could hear his instruction from below, very neat. He checked the fuel lines, suspension, steering and anything else that was below me and that was when he pulled me up on the Starter Solenoid touching the column, this was FAIL No.1. The brake lines on the front right also touched the wheel on full lock so FAIL No.2 - I swear this was ok when I left but must have moved or settled when I drove it for the first time.

Note: Things will move and settle down on your first run to the SVA centre so ensure plenty of clearance and things are secured correctly.

Off the ramp and onto the rollers with 0.5 inches to spare on the sump, must do something about that as road bumps will rip my sump off one day. This is when the weight was checked, he asked my weight which was a bit personal but I realised it was to compare to his own for testing purposes. This worked out to 314kg front and 286kg rear making 600kg dead. I was quite pleased about that as I thought the big engine was very heavy but not as bad as I thought.

Brake test was done on the same rollers and this looked very confusing when reading the computer. Even though I had a 15 mile drive, the rear brakes had not quite bedded in and they were just ok.

Note: If you have fitted new shoes or disk pads, you can apparently ask them for a chance to bed them in a bit.

The tester then fitted a little device to his shoes to test the pedal pressure against the braking force, this was ok, thank goodness I bled the brakes with my trusty girlfriend again, everybody should have one! All of this was done without the engine on so no cooling probs.

Then onto the speedo test, we were asked to stand outside for this just in case the car shoot off the ramps plus it was noisy so we did have the choice of earplugs - eeewww. Glad to say the car didn't shoot off the ramps and it passed that stage, so only 2 fails so far which wasn't too bad for a 1992 car which wasn't built with the SVA in mind like they are now. The tester then took the car for a quick spin around the block to ensure the car braked in a straight line and the steering centred, another pass.

Note: Apparently if you pump up the tyres a bit, it will centre better taking into account your steering is set-up correctly.


At this stage, he decided it was time for a coffee break (I think he needed one, I just wanted to get it over and done with). After quick burger and a cuppa, we went back to check out the failures only to find he had some more bad news. He had checked the regulations and the Mirrors were too small. This is very technical so I will be posting an update on the SVA section to explain this so was FAIL No.3.
I was given the chance to fix the problems at this stage with only the sound test and mirror test to go but if it failed the noise test there was no point, so outside with the microphone we went. I was a bit nervous at this stage but at 4200 rpm, with a limit of 101db, it passed at 99db, only just but a pass is a pass.

I now had the choice to fix the problems I had as we had the tester until 12pm so off to the local Partco to get some mirrors, they only had lorry mirrors so no good. A trip further a field found a bike shop with very nice mirrors for only £30.00, bargain. Took them back and checked with Mr SVA, they were ok and they were so fitted them in a jiffy. Then tie-wrapped the front brake line to the cycle wing to secure it (I know, didn't think this was allowed but he said it was ok). Got my file out and filed a chunk off the starter solenoid to clear the steering column.

Note: Take plenty of tools, Tie-wraps and foam as you do get a chance to rectify small failures, saves the retest fee.

This was all checked out and he OK'd it. One thing left to do was the mirror check, It would have been a pity to fail on the last leg but as luck would have it, the mirrors passed, this may have been due to the fact he was shorter than me as I couldn't see sod all out of them. This only left writing the certificate which he kindly photo-copied for me because I had to hand it over to the DVLA 30mins later.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable day even though it was long. I was courteous and polite to the tester and he was very helpful which made it better. I learnt a lot about how they test and the reasons behind it and came out smiling. I hope this has given you a little insight into how your day will go but bear in mind, not all centres do things exactly the same but Chelmsford is definitely a good one so a very big thanks to them. All I have to do now is finish off the bodywork and take off any rubber bits I don't like. The bolt covers will be staying as I quite like them, makes it look half tidy.

Good luck on your SVA, below are a few pics of my test day.

sva1 sva2 sva3 sva4

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