Garages often have a bad reputation for ripping people off. If you don’t know a lot about cars, you may be concerned that you’ll be overcharged for parts or hours worked. One of the best things you can do is get a recommendation from a friend, for a good local garage. But if you’re new to the area, or don’t want to have to travel too far to get your vehicle serviced or repaired, there are ways you can avoid issues with any garage.
You don’t need to become an expert on cars in order to ensure that you’re being treated fairly either. There are a few simple things you can try to build up a good relationship with your garage, and give you peace of mind. We’ve outlined five easy tips below:
1. Be Clear and Specific
While it’s the job of the garage to know about cars, and not yours, you still need to be clear about what is wrong with your vehicle, and what you want them to do. Even mentioning small things, like a fault being more common when in first gear, can be useful, as it gives the mechanic a better idea of what they’re looking for.
In terms of getting your car serviced, you should be specific about the details of the vehicle when booking it in. This will include the age and mileage of the vehicle, as well as whether you want a standard servicing, or something extra. And if you’re unsure of what you do need, don’t be afraid to ask the garage for advice.
2. Ask for an Estimate
Costs can really vary when it comes to vehicle repairs, depending on what needs to be done. Of course, with some makes and models, the parts are harder to get hold of, or simply cost more to produce. This is particularly true of luxurious, high-end cars. Because of the range of costs, it’s a good idea to get more than one estimate, from a couple of local garages. That way, you can not only guarantee that you’re getting a fair price, you’re also getting the cheapest one.
Once your repairs or servicing has been completed, you should be given a fully itemised invoice. This will detail everything that has been done to your vehicle, how long the labour took, and the cost of each part. You can compare this to your original estimate, and make sure that the figures are similar. Though do bear in mind that things like engine oil and tyres are classed as toxic waste, so will cost extra to be disposed of - this will be listed on your invoice as an environmental charge.
3. Consider Timings
If you need to have a proper discussion with your garage about an issue with your car, it’s a good idea to pick a quieter time. This will generally be late morning or early afternoon, as the majority of people will try and go before or after work.
It’s also important to consider how long certain things will take - you can’t expect every repair to be fixed in a day. It can take a while for less common parts to be sourced, for instance, and if you only provide a vague explanation as to what’s wrong with your car, the mechanics may spend a long time tracking down the fault. Do also remember to clear out your vehicle before taking it to the garage, such as the boot, as the mechanic may need to access those parts of the car. They don’t want to spend time moving things out of the way first!
4. Show Respect
We’ve all heard stories from friends and family of them being charged a fortune for a small repair. But that doesn’t mean that every mechanic is trying to con you. For the most part, mechanics are highly skilled professionals, who will always try and put your best interests first. It’s therefore important to treat them with respect, and as honest business owners.
If you’ve ever worked in a customer facing position, you’ll know that not all customers are pleasant to work with, and some will be incredibly demanding. Don’t assume that just because you’re on the other side of the business transaction with a mechanic, that they’ll always be the one in the wrong!
5. Speak to the Mechanic Directly
If you’re ever unsure about anything, having an honest conversation with your mechanic can put your mind at ease. Sometimes the details can get confused when you try to explain an issue with the receptionist, whereas speaking directly to the mechanic will ensure that your description will reach the right person.
And if you have a particularly complicated problem, it can be helpful to write the details down, and perhaps leave the note in your car. That way, nothing will be missed.
And if it turns out that you’re not happy with the work later down the line, you can always ask to speak to someone in the garage to resolve the problem. As long as you keep calm and clearly communicate the issue, you should be able to come to a suitable agreement.