Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Croatia Online - Left Hand Drive Cars

Regular readers may remember our last posting on sourcing left hand drive cars in the uk. It's clearly a great boon to have one if you are spending a lot of time in foreign countries that drive on the right. However there are a few drawbacks:

1. You have to drive to England once a year for an MOT if you want to keep up your English insurance and that means keeping the tax disc current as well. You can get 3rd party insurance relatively easily in Croatia but some companies will plead ignorance. Also, with the new residency rules (see below), Croatian insurance is only issued for 6 months rather than a year as before, and of course it's not valid in the UK though you can get a green card for eg Montenegro. However, surprisingly, it's issued on the car at a fixed rate so they don't seem to mind who drives the car or what their history is.

2. As we discovered a couple of months ago, the wing mirrors are the "wrong way round" which means to get a new one they have to be imported and that takes time and money.

3. Most fundamentally and the real subject of todays posting, beware the problem of the aim of the headlights' beam when you go for that all important MOT - more details below.

There's no controversy over the fact that the aim of headlights for a car that's driven on the right is not satisfactory when driving on the left and vice versa. If not "fixed" it can be very distracting for oncoming cars and not very helpful to the driver. Most of us will remember painstakingly putting pvc tape over the headlights when we first went to France and a now more sophisticated version of that is normal practice the world over. However, understandably, the UK MOT requires that the beam is right for the UK. Fortunately, common sense as well as safety prevails at VOSA, responsible for administration of the MOT system, who say that a masking kit is acceptable, if the aim given is correct, though ideally a more permanent solution is preferable.

A major garage who, for the moment, we will not name pending a formal response to our request for clarification, does not accept the official guidance! They insisted that the only way our car would pass was to have new headlamp lenses at a cost of around £4oo let alone the cost of reversing the operation to go back to Croatia. They were directed towards section 1.6 of the inspection guidance manual, they were informed of a detailed phone call the writer had with VOSA MOT standards helpline (the ultimate authority) but still they refused to budge. More frustrating still they dealt the killer blow 15 minutes before we were due to pick the car up, as agreed with them, 45 minutes after the "ready time". The car was therefore withdrawn from this garage the following day, after several attempts to discuss the issue pragmatically, and placed with another one who knew of the problem and the more appropriate solution. Looking at the 'net, it's clear this is not an isolated problem. So.....

a) be armed with section 1.6 of the manual before you book your MOT

b) ask the question before you are "cornered" by a recalcitrant (at best!) garage and an expired MOT, preferably before you book the test

c) preferably get your masking kit before you get to England - it's easier to source and you'll be prepared for night driving

You'll find more information on MOT administration, etc on http://www.vosa.gov.uk/ and follow this link for section 1.6 of the MOT inspection manual guidelines - http://www.motuk.co.uk/manual_160.htm

Today's picture is unfortunately not of the "offending vehicle" but one being prepared for a wedding during the Šibenik regatta on St Nicholas' Day. For more photos of that go to our sister site http://www.croatiacruisingcompanion.blogspot.com/


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've been visiting your site off and on for the last 6 months and I love your articles about Croatia. There is such a great personal element that your just don't read too many other places.


10:58 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Thanks for the lovely comment Nate and please keep reading. Postings will be stepping up again after the long Christmas break.

2:31 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

As a postcript to this posting, after some pressure, we received a refund of the MOT fee from the first garage and a rather bizarre explanation that the fact they did not stock masking kits meant that, as far as they were concerned, there was only one option. Hmmm!

12:41 pm  

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