Oct 272016
 

Visiting a garage can be a baffling and costly experience; especially for that with limited motoring knowledge and it’s not surprising consumers are becoming more cautious when it comes to making an appointment. Some dread being ripped off so much, they put off sorting a potential issue for as long as possible, which can be risky, cause even more problems and even be dangerous if left for too long.

So how can we resolve such fears, ensure we get the best price and avoid being duped when it comes to the cost of repairs and services to our vehicles? We’ve researched how to spot some of the tell-tale signs your garage might be taking you for a ride and what you can do to combat this.

Common gimmicks to look out for include:

Exaggerating a ‘problem’

Dodgy garages will often make recommendations much earlier than needed. It’s good to be mindful of this and check your previous service history, to understand how much wear and tear is normal between services. When garages recommend a car part needs replacing, listen carefully to how they justify that need. Instead of just accepting something ‘needs doing’ consider whether or not the part in question still meets the manufacturer’s guidelines and whether it will reach its minimum limit over the coming months, based on previous services.

The pre-MOT check

If a garage offers to service a car before the MOT, this could be an indicator that they are either not going to comply with MOT regulations, charge you for the same inspection work twice or exaggerate your car’s problems and land you with an unfair repair bill.

Charging for un-worked time

Some MOT services report being asked to sign off work at 4pm, which a garage said they would complete the same day. But that work takes 2-3 hours and the garage closes at 5.30pm, which means you will be charged for hours that haven’t been worked. Far too many garages also ask for an hour’s labour for diagnostics. Whilst this is not a 2-minute job, most MOT professionals report 30 minutes labour for this is usually more than sufficient.

This is where having a warranty in place can be highly beneficial. Warranty Direct always cover the labour cost on valid claims, which reduces your chance of getting charged for un-worked time, which you might experience if you go for a repair without a car warranty.

A warranty gives you the freedom to take your car to either an independent garage or a franchised main dealer for repairs and their full labour rate will be paid by the provider. At Warranty Direct we offer a Preferred Repairer Network, which means we can pay a garage directly less any agreed contribution towards parts costs and policy excesses.

Adding that extra zero…

A common practise amongst rogue garages is to reel a customer in by quoting a very low price for a repair. When the car is in the workshop, they will then receive a call to say the part they actually need is different to the one they were quoted on, and surprise surprise, the bill is going to be far more expensive.

Upselling on non-urgent tasks, but not proposing to do the work you need

A common tactic from your less-than-reliable mechanic is to recommend work which can easily be completed that day, in order to avoid more difficult, time-consuming repairs. This can mean a garage might only suggest certain work needed to meet the manufacturer’s service schedule and add others that are not, but are easy to do and will increase the price of the service.

Now you’re aware of some of the common ploys, here’s what you can do to prepare for your visit, before you even get there…

Check credentials of all parties

Check if the garage is part of a Trading Standards Institute Approved Code scheme. If it is, it will display a Motor Codes or Bosch Car Service logo. You should also ask an individual mechanic if they are a member of the Institute of the Motor Industry or listed on their Professional Register. Not only does this give you peace of mind that your garage should treat you fairly, it also shows the company prioritises and invests in automotive technician accreditations and is likely to be better than those who do not have additional credentials.

Be as informed about your make and model as possible

In the past, general consensus seemed to be that women were charged more than men for repairs and services. However, a new survey from Sheila’s Wheels suggests women (in particular brunettes and red-heads) actually pay less than men, but also states one in four motorists, that take their vehicle into a garage for one thing, end up replacing or fixing something else.

So make sure you do as much research as possible on your vehicle’s make and model and its common problems before booking that appointment…

Prepare for the inevitable

It’s almost inevitable, that as cars get older components will fail and as we all know from previous visits to a garage, it  won’t just be the cost of replacing a part you pay for, there will be the labour charge for fitting it too. Purchasing a car warranty will help meeting these repair costs, keeping you mobile, although always make sure you read the small print.

Unlike some of our competitors, we don’t exclude wear and tear* from our services. Should you wish to be covered for ‘wear and tear’ then policies that only refer to covering normal life expectancy, premature wear and manufacturing defects should be avoided. This is because almost all likely reasons for a “wear & tear” failure would be excluded from cover.

It’s important that if you decide to take out a car warranty that you have one that covers all of your needs and doesn’t exclude smaller issues you may experience, as your car ages over time.

Knowing the common tactics used to force consumers into paying over the odds for car repairs and doing your homework on the types of problems you could experience with your make and model, will make you more confident when it comes to taking your car to a garage. Hopefully this will help you to spot whether you should perhaps consider taking your business elsewhere…

* – Covered from day 1 on renewals or continuing a manufacturer’s policy. Otherwise a 90 day exclusion period applies.

Oct 272016
 

For years the addition of a middleman to the buyer/consumer relationship has been almost inevitable – the intermediary who takes a product from supplier to consumer and, in turn, takes a chunk of the profits for themselves.

This has been integral part of many forms of product distribution for a number of years, particularly in the motoring industry, where buyers can often suffer at the hands of salesman who is more concerned about commission than the consumer. There is however, plenty of evidence to suggest that in the modern economy, cutting out the middleman can be highly beneficial for both supplier and buyer.

Here are some of the main factors to consider when eliminating the middleman:

Business on Your Own Terms:

If it’s a two-way relationship both parties are far more likely to agree a deal that will satisfy each of them. As soon as a third party is involved in these negotiations it’s one more person (and one more bank balance) to satisfy, meaning the buyer and the consumer could be losing out.

Saving Time:

Cutting out an intermediary simply cuts out one more process in the distribution of a product. Saving this time by eliminating an extra element to the transaction increases efficiency and overall costs. For example, if a manufacturer is able to bypass a wholesale company they can replenish their chosen retailers with stock at a faster rate. Internet shopping has also proved advantageous in this regard, as companies can stock their product and ship them quickly and easily as and when required.

Knowing Your Audience:

A business which has a direct interaction with its customers, by definition, knows exactly who those customers are. This means it’s far easier to build a genuine relationship with them, understand their key demographics, and tailor their product to suit this target audience. It will also allow them to identify potential customers they might be missing out on – in the case of Warranty Direct, we administer and underwrite all of our own warranty policies in order to take into account the needs of our customers.

Calling Out the Cowboys:

You hear a lot of “horror stories” about rogue used car salesmen whose only concern is upping their percentage. Putting them out of the picture will mean it’s far easier to begin and maintain relationships with companies and people you really trust.

Accountability is Key:

Working with companies that are FCA regulated, such as Warranty Direct, allows an unsatisfied customer with claims issues to take these to the Financial Ombudsman Service for free for an independent decision.

Oct 132016
 

The latest results from Warranty Direct reveal the Mitsubishi Lancer is the most reliable family car according to the latest data from their Reliability Index website.

The Reliability Index analyses all the vehicle data on live Warranty Direct and collates it into creating a reliability rating. The lower the rating, the better the reliability. As well as finding out the overall reliability of a car, the index offers information on which car parts fail most often  such as air conditioning, axle & suspension, braking, cooling, electrical components, engines and fuel.

Family cars are usually chosen for being specifically good at daily domestic work, which means considering a certain set of parameters rather than just an outright type of model. Many couples are more likely to choose a vehicle based on its ability to meet family needs. Practicality, running costs and price all score high on the hit list, though some want style and something fun to drive, too.

Top ten most reliable family cars

Position Model Sector
1 Mitsubishi Lancer Small Family
2 Honda Insight Small Family
3 Mercedes-Benz CLC Small Family
4 Honda Accord (08-) Family Car
5 Honda Civic (00-06) Small Family
6 Toyota Prius (03-09) Family Car
7 Hyundai i30 Small Family
8 Nissan Almera Small Family
9 Honda Civic (06-) Small Family
10 Toyota Prius (09-) Family Car

The Mitsubishi Lancer, is the most reliable family car with the time spent off the road for repairs typically less than an hour and the average repair cost only £69. The Honda Insight came in at second place, but due to a high number of reported issues occurring with its axle suspension, the costs of repairs are over double that of Mitsubishi’s averaging at around £137. This lowered its position in the rankings.

Both cars received good family car reviews with the Mitsubishi Lancer being praised for its practicality spaciousness and superb value and the Honda Insight deemed a good choice for those who need more space than you find in a small hatchback, but who still want a town-friendly, smooth and fuel-efficient car.

80% of the top ten most reliable cars were Japanese models and Honda did particularly well with 4 of its models making the top ten. The only non-Japanese cars to enter the top ten were the Mercedes-Benz CLC which came in at position number three and the Hyundai i30 which came in at position number seven.

The reliability of Japanese vehicles is believed to stem from Japan’s superior production processes and more meticulous testing regimes. Japanese brands also tend to be more conservative when it comes to adopting complex new technologies – though hybrid technology is an obvious exception to this trend.

The least reliable family car is the Skoda Superb, due in part to the large number of reported issues occurring in its engine (30%) and repair time averaging at around 3 hours. Costs of repairs were also particularly high averaging around £578. Results such as this are an example of how typically reliable cars can be pulled down in the rankings by unreliable parts.

Speaking about the latest results Philip Ward, COO of Warranty Direct commented:

 “Families demand a lot from their cars and need vehicles that won’t let them down. Mitsubishi’s success in the reliability rankings is chiefly down to low failure rates and when things go wrong, they are cheaper to fix. It’s imperative for buyers to consider reliability when purchasing a used family car. Manufacturers demonstrating their cars are durable and cheaper to maintain will continue to be the most popular choices amongst buyers.”

A more extensive list of vehicle information is available on the Reliability Index website.