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Getting a fair deal from garages


In a recent survey by What Car? and Car and Accessory Trader magazines, in answer to the question: Do you think garages/service departments in general charge a fair price, or do they rip motorists off? 77.3 per cent of motorists replied: They rip people off.

However, 22.7 per cent said garages charge a fair price. So, how can you make sure you pay a fair price for servicing and repairs?

If your car needs servicing or maintenance, the cheapest thing is to do it yourself. However, this is not always practical. How long will the job take? Is specialised equipment required? Is the job beyond your capability? Answering these questions will help you work out if the problem can be fixed at home or if a trip to the garage is necessary.

Haynes is the world’s foremost publisher of automotive repair manuals. Each manual includes fault-finding charts so that you can diagnose the problem. Then, for each task, the tools required are listed and a scale of spanners – one spanner for ‘easy’ to five spanners for ‘very difficult’ – indicates the level of complexity.

If you decide to take your car to a garage, Haynes offers the following advice for choosing one you will be happy with.

If your car is still under warranty, may choose to go to an authorised dealer. You can, however, have your car serviced by an independent garage if the service is completed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and servicing criteria. You need to retain proof of the work done as this may be needed in the event of a claim under the warranty.

For new parts such as tyres, an exhaust system or shock absorbers, there are many specialist fitting centres. Often, they will quote an all-inclusive price, with a warranty, and should be much cheaper than a garage.

If you want to pay a lower hourly rate than an authorised dealer, consider a small independent garage. Some specialise in particular makes and many will have knowledge and expertise equal to an authorised dealer.

  1. Visit several independent garages in your area.
  2. Talk to a mechanic at each garage and get a feel for his or her knowledge and enthusiasm.
  3. Try to gauge the standard of service by speaking with the staff.
  4. Don't be put off if there's no carpet in the waiting area or they don't provide a courtesy car - it's you, the customer, who pays for these things.
  5. Ask around to see if anyone you know has a good or bad experience of dealing with any of the garages you are thinking of using.
  6. If your car has a fault to be fixed, explain the problem as clearly as possible – so that the garage can pinpoint the cause
  7. quickly. Haynes manuals have fault finding charts to assist you.
  8. Sometimes, it is worth taking the mechanic out for a drive to demonstrate a fault.
  9. Ask for a written price for the job.
  10. Check what is included in the price - labour and parts, obviously, but what about consumables such as oil?
  11. Finally, ask what warranty the garage gives on its work and any parts fitted.

If, in the end, you decide to do the work yourself, you should purchase a Haynes manual - more than 150 million have been sold worldwide. Haynes is the world's foremost publisher of automotive repair manuals and renowned for teaching millions of car owners how to carry out routine maintenance and repairs.

Haynes Car Manuals retail at £18.99 (hardback) and are available from all good car accessory retailers and bookshops including: Halfords, Motor World and WH Smith. A comprehensive stockist locator can be found at

The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR

Haynes Manuals is the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car and motorcycle manuals, as well as producing manuals on a wide range of DIY, leisure and lifestyle subjects. These will continue to include motoring and motorsport related subjects. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Telephone: 01963 440635 Fax: 01963 440001 E-mail: