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.