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Don't get taken for a ride by your car mechanic: Five essential tips to ensure you don’t get ripped off at the garage

Posted 10/07/18

Even those who know their way around an engine can struggle as today's cars carry an ever expanding array of hi-tech electrical devices that require experts to put right.
It leaves drivers relying increasingly on professional mechanics to put their car right, and the imbalance of knowledge can lead them vulnerable to rip offs and sharp practice.
Recent research from Warranty Direct showed hourly costs at garages have hit a dizzying £92 an hour in some areas of the country. Costly electrical faults on cars more than three years old have increased by 66 per cent over the last five years.
Given the spiralling costs, what can drivers do when checking their car in a garage to ensure they are not taken for a ride?

If you do need a garage, you have the right under consumer law to be charged a reasonable amount for repairs, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau. However, this ultimately boils down to what you and the garage consider to be fair.
To help you get an idea of what this should be, and once you've established what work needs doing, shop around at other local garages to see what they would charge.
You should always ask whether the price you are being given is a quote or an estimate and also check whether it includes all parts, labour and VAT, otherwise you could be stung.

Steps to take to avoid being ripped off has put together five tips for drivers to follow to help them get a good deal.

1. Make sure that all work and parts are guaranteed for one year - something that most reputable garages will offer. But always ask before handing over any money.

2. If anything needs to be replaced, ask the garage to show you the parts afterwards and get them to explain to you what they’re doing and why.
Any decent garage would be happy to do this and many dealers will also now send you a free video, or photo, to your smart phone so you can see exactly what needs doing and the finished results. This should completely eliminate any confusion or nasty surprises.

3. Asking friends and family for their recommendation remains a great way to find a good garage.
However make sure that they drive a similar type of car to your own and ideally, that they have the same manufacturer.
4. It’s probably a bit much quizzing technicians about their qualifications and work history, but a lot of information on a dealership can be found online in advance such as whether they’re a member of a motor industry trade bodies such as the NFDA, the Independent Garage Association or have signed up to Motor Codes.
These guarantee certain sets of standards and are a potential selling point, so most dealers will want to highlight their membership.

5. Finally, make sure you get a receipt and keep these records safe. Having a full service history can add significant value to a car and there’s also some evidence to suggest that having a fully stamped service log from a main dealer can add as much as £400 to the resale price.  

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