SVA Testing and Registration

I thought it might be useful to include a section on SVA testing and vehicle registration. My experience of both these processes is mixed, SVA was not the most pleasant experience I'd ever had yet registration was particularly painless.

Obtaining a chassis number is required before booking an SVA test so I'll cover registration first.


Registering Your Car

  • Contact your local vehicle registration office (find it in yellow pages) and ask for one of their inspectors to come and inspect your car and allocate a chassis number. The car needs to be substantially complete though not necessarily road ready.

  • Make sure you have all receipts to hand and the registration document for the vehicle which supplied the running gear.

  • The inspection carried out is very basic and the registration number you will ultimately be given is determined by the age of the donor vehicle (if all parts came from 1 vehicle) or how many new parts are used. 'Q' registrations are not now the norm for kit cars unless the parts used come from a number of different vehicles thus making it too difficult to determine the age your car.

  • In my case I bought the full kit from Ginetta including the mechanical package. The inspector decided that I had used enough new parts to be allocated a new registration (W reg in my case).

  • If he had decided that I had not used enough new parts then I would have been allocated an age related plate. This means an old 'Y' registration as the Ford Sierra the engine came from was a 'Y reg'.

  • If you're not bothered about what registration number your car gets, it can be an advantage to retain an age related plate. If the donor car was old enough you could find your shiny new kit car is tax exempt on the grounds of age. Also some classic styled kits look better and more authentic with an 'old' registration.

  • the inspector will allocate you a chassis number on the spot which means you can then book your SVA test and arrange insurance for driving to and from the test.

  • After a successful SVA test it's a simple job of turning up at your local vehicle registration office with the test certificate, insurance cover note and a wad of cash. You'll get your tax disc straight away and your registration document arrives in the post later.


The S.V.A. Test

Armed with a chassis number you can book your SVA test through the DVLA at Swansea. They will book a test for you at the station of your choice but if the appointment isn't suitable, maybe your car wont be ready in time for the date you anticipated, I found that by phoning the test centre direct they are very helpful.

The information given here is based on my experience of putting a Ginetta G27 through the SVA test at the Beverley test centre in May 2000. Variations may be experienced using a different test centre or testing a different model of car.

General Information

  • Turn up at the test centre with an almost full tank of fuel, this is required for determining the laden weight of the car.

  • The centre catch on the hood fastening above the windscreen would not pass SVA so I attended the test without the hood. You will see as this story unfolds that the car can only be tested as seen, so the watchword is "If you think a component might fail, leave it at home!".

  • Rear view from a door mounted mirror is difficult on the Ginetta as the rear wheel arch seriously restricts your view. Use a clamp on mirror high up on the 'A' pillar to gain maximum rear view.

  • Acrylic headlamp covers will distort the beam, leave them at home and fit them later.

  • A fancy steering wheel may not pass the test, use the donor car item and swap it later.


Why my car failed first time around.

  • Item 6 - Interior Fittings. The heater control knob protruded more than 9.5 mm from the dashboard. As it's mounted in the centre console it is outside the exclusion zone around the steering wheel.
    Solution: Pull off the standard mini control knob and bend the lever over by 90 deg. Cover the lever with a piece of plastic tubing.

  • Item 6 - Interior Fittings. Though well hidden by the dashboard the dashboard support frame brackets and the wiper motor (in the passenger footwell) were deemed to have exposed sharp edges.
    Solution: Cover offending items with offcuts of interior carpet.

  • Item 9.3 - Aim of headlamps. I had checked that I was allowed to carry out the relevant adjustments at the test centre though I could have attended a local MOT station to carry out alignment beforehand.

  • Item 14 - Protective Steering. The torsional rigidity of my steering column was not up to standard. Talking to the examiner, simply stiffening the under dash area where the column bolts through would not be suitable as this would then fail on not allowing the column to break away forwards in case of an accident.
    Solution: A bar was laminated under the dash between the centre console and the outside edge of the dashboard. Where the column is bolted up I cut slots facing forward instead of simply drilling holes. This allows the column to break away forwards in case of an accident.

  • Item 15.1 - Vehicle Design and Construction. On both the clutch pedal and the rear shock absorber mounting bolts there was not enough thread showing through the nyloc nuts.
    Solution: Fit 1/4" longer bolts.

  • Item 15.2 - Vehicle Design and Construction. The wiring to the rear lights in the boot was deemed as being inadequately protected against snagging. The irony is that I had left the carpet out of the boot to show him what a good job I'd made of the wiring. (Remember, tested as seen)
    Solution: Fit the boot carpet.

  • Item 16.5 - Brake Performance. No non slip brake or clutch pedal rubbers were fitted. I simply forgot.
    Solution: Fit rubbers

  • Item 16.5 - Brake Performance. Brake performance criteria not met with regard to front/rear bias. This is a dodgy one as you have no means of setting this up without their test gear. The test consists of weighing and measuring the car, strapping a load cell to your foot to determine how much pressure you apply to the pedal, testing brake efficiency on a rolling road then feeding all the data into a computer. Unlike the examiner the computer does not listen to your protestations and spits out one of two words.....Pass or Fail.
    Solution: Fairly easy on the Ginetta by adjusting the bias bar on the pedal assembly. But note that if you chooose to use an inline regulator valve to adjust brake bias it must be able to be made tamper proof after testing.

  • Item 17 - Noise. The exhaust system as fitted failed the noise test. Ginetta supplied a replacement but this was also unsuitable.
    Solution: Burton Power supply a decibel insert which reduces the noise to an acceptable level but you pay the price in slight loss of performance.

  • Item 21 - Design Weights. Ginetta supplied the design weights to enter onto the application form. Actual weight was outside the tolerance allowed.
    Solution - Sign a declaration to say that I made a mistake when originally filling in the application form and give the new weights based on their weighbridge figure.