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.

Feb 282016
 

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has come up with some easy ways to increase your car’s chances of passing its MOT test. Many people don’t prepare their car for an MOT at all, when a set of simple checks could save you time, money and inconvenience.

Many cars fail the MOT on the basic items we’re about to highlight, leaving you rushing around attempting to fix them at late notice and possibly great expense.

Mark Lewis, IAM director of standards, says start on the outside:

  • Wash your car. This will allow you to see any damage, especially to wheels
  • Check tyres. Make sure there is no damage and there is there is a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre width and around the whole circumference of the tyre
  • Clean your windscreen so you can see any cracks
  • Make sure all lights are working and get someone to help with brake lights or look at a reflection in a shop window or garage door
  • Lift the wipers and check the feathered edge (the thin part of the blade that touches the screen) for any damage. Then wipe them with a damp cloth
  • Look under the car to see if there are any fluid leaks

Now let’s talk fluids!

  • Make sure all fluids under the bonnet are topped up – these areas are often marked in yellow
  • Make sure the windscreen washer nozzles are working and aim at the windscreen
  • Don’t forget about the rear wash-wipe if your car has one

Moving inside

  • Make sure the horn works
  • Does the parking brake hold the car?
  • Pull all the seat belts out the entire way and make sure they retract.
  • Unwind if necessary

Mark said: “These basic checks will help make your chances of passing an MOT much greater. So many fails are as a result of these issues.

“But what I have suggested should not just be a once-a-year activity – these are checks that should be part of a weekly routine to ensure your car is safe to be driven day in, day out.”

Oct 202014
 

The Audi RS6 and Mercedes R-Class are more likely to suffer suspension damage than any other cars in the UK, according to a new study by Warranty Direct.

Fiat’s six-seater Multipla and the Jaguar XK sports car are the next most vulnerable, with 29 and 28.5 percent of Warranty Direct customers claiming for damage to axle and suspension components on their cars annually.

Deteriorating, potholed roads in winter and the proliferation of speed bumps increase the likelihood of suspension damage yet further, meaning that repairs cost an average of £247 to fix.

Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies shows that the most vulnerable vehicles are up to 30 times more likely to claim for suspension damage than the most robust cars.

At the other end of the ‘risk scale’, the Citroën C1 and Peugeot 107 (ostensibly the same car) are seemingly impervious to the UK’s pothole-ridden roads. Surprisingly, the Honda S2000 sports car is also one of the most pothole-resistant vehicles.

Axle and suspension failure rates

Make Model Year Percentage chance of suspension failure
Audi RS6 (02 – 11) 38.37
Mercedes-Benz R-Class (06 – 13) 30.67
Fiat Multipla (04 – 10) 29.05
Jaguar XK Series (96 – 06) 28.48
Bentley Continental GT (03 – 11) 28.28
Mazda 5 (05 – 10) 27.17
Mercedes-Benz CL (00 – 07) 25.96
Chrysler 300C (05 – 10) 25.53
Jaguar XJ Series (03 – 09) 24.81
Hyundai Santa Fe (06 – 12) 24.14

 

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “It is almost unbelievable how much variation there is from one model to another when it comes to suspension damage.

“Any vehicle driven on damaged, poor surfaces regularly or used for commuting on routes littered with speed bumps will eventually come to grief. London is particularly bad for the latter.

“The roads are as bad as ever but some cars are affected terribly, with components like bushes, track rod ends, drop links, springs and dampers all susceptible. Instead of cheap runabouts, luxury vehicles and stiffly sprung sports cars are most prone to breakdowns – with the exception of the Honda S2000.”

Vehicles made by Honda, Isuzu and Toyota have the most robust suspension systems; less than three per cent of cars made by these manufacturers suffer failures annually. Bentley, on the other hand, performs worst; 28 per cent of its cars will suffer suspension damage in a typical year.