How To Pick The Right Garage – and avoid being ripped off

There is no doubt there are garages in the UK that are less than honest. But there are less than honest businesses across nearly all sectors in this country so the reputation garages get is often a little unfair. The fact remains, however, that many people feel powerless when they get their car serviced or repaired because they just don’t know if the cost or suggested work is correct and in some cases it is not. These days, however, it is far easier to make sure you take your car to a good, reliable and trust worthy garage and there are plenty of them out there.

Word Of Mouth

A good place to start when choosing a garage is to ask your friends and neighbours. It is worth keeping in mind though, it is a place to start not the last decision point. A recommendation can certainly be worth listening too, especially when it comes to customer service because despite not knowing much about cars most people do know how they like to be treated. It is also nice to get an idea of how long people have been going to the same place and if more than one person recommends it. Word of mouth advice does need to be taken in context though, it could be that your neighbour has been being ripped of every year for the last 10 years and doesn’t know it. This works the other way too, some people may give a garage a bad review because they were annoyed their “reliable” car broke and cost them money. There is a great deal of emotion around cars and some people are so insistent their car is the best that any failure on it’s part must be down to some other reason.

Garage Guides and Reviews

Online reviews and guides are available for pretty much anything these days and garages are no exception. There are a number of these kind of guides out there and each one may have a slightly different way of doing things. As with the garages themselves some of these guides are better than others so when looking into to using one, go for a big brand name like the AA who have launched their own garage guide recently. The reason for looking at big names is simple; they have a reason to worry about who they put their name against. A brand new guide that pops up with no affiliation with any major motoring brand might be more geared towards commercial success than quality. These guides can really help when choosing the right garage and avoiding getting ripped off because you tend to book through the site itself and most of the garages will be vetted before being able to join.


Simple Tips To Avoid Being Ripped Off

There are a whole host of small simple tips that might give you the edge when it comes to a potential over charging situation.
If you know what needs fixing and what you want looked at, make a list a leave it in the car as well as keeping a copy for yourself. You can reference this against the bill at the end and question any additional items.

  • Ask if the work and parts are covered under any warranty. Most good garages should offer some kind of support if their work fails for some reason within a given period.
  • Leave a Haynes manual on the floor. You may not know a lot about your car but a well-thumbed maintenance manual left lying around the car will give the garage the idea you do and might just prevent any funny business.
  • When you get a quote for the work say thank you and say you will need to call your mechanic friend to run the list by them. If the garage is trying it on they will probably be ready to chop some extras off the bill by the time you call back, or they might even claim an error and give you a new quote. The key is to make sure they call before doing any work at all other than exploratory work.
  • Make sure the quote includes parts, labour and VAT. A dodgy garage may try and add this on at the end causing the bill to grow substantially even after you agreed it.

Pay a Visit For Something Minor

If you are new to an area or trying out a new garage why not book your car in for something very minor first. Try a simple oil change, or light bulb. If they can do this without adding extra work on or costing too much then it is a great sign they are not likely to do so for bigger jobs.

Ultimately most garages are well run and unlikely to be an issue but remember these tips when selecting and interacting with a garage and you will set yourself in good stead to avoid any issues even if a good garage has a “bad” day.