Easy ways to find a good mechanic
Emma Roberts reveals some top tips on finding a reliable and affordable mechanic.
Due to my jinxed past with all things that go ‘brum,’ I have only ever owned one car, which was sadly written off and turned into a cube.
However, throughout my brief ownership of Precious, I had my fair share of visits to my local garage.
Fortunately, my dad always came along with me, as to be honest, I didn’t have a clue about car jargon.
It was even a shock to me to find out that a MOT wasn’t a one off occurrence and had to be done every year.
Nevertheless, I think my wallet escaped my garage escapades relatively intact and my mechanics always did a really good job.
But it seems some people are far less fortunate when it comes to choosing a marvellous mechanic. In fact, a recent study by Which? showed that 87% of mechanics either missed or ignored dangerous problems when working on cars. And another study by Motor Codes revealed that nearly half of UK motorists feel ripped off by dodgy mechanics.
So how can you go about finding a top-notch mechanic that won’t cost you a fortune?
Before you choose which garage you’re going to use, you should always do a little snooping around.
It’s also worth checking if the garage is recognised by Motor Codes, a body responsible for self regulation in the motor services industry.
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If the garage is signed up, it must offer honest, transparent and accountable service with guarantees for work and parts.
Even if, like me, the word ‘clutch,’ springs an image of a small handbag to mind rather than a car part, you should make an effort to do a little research on the potential fault that your vehicle could have.
Again, the internet offers a fully stocked tool box of information that’ll help you identify the problem with your motor and how much it would roughly cost to fix it. Check out Auto insider for some helpful information.
Like any frugal fanatic knows, you should never hand over your cash before shopping around and finding the best deal. Make sure you ask your mechanic if the initial diagnosis is free, as some garages charge a bundle for simply looking at your vehicle.
When you’re satisfied you’ve got the best price, make sure you get the quote in writing before any work is carried out. By doing this, you’ll have solid evidence of the agreed price if it’s later disputed.
If the work costs over £100, you might want to consider paying with your credit card, as you’ll be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974). So if you’re not happy with your mechanic’s work but are refused a refund, you can take it up with your credit card company. Just bear in mind that some garages may charge a fee for using a credit card.
It's also a good idea to visit each garage in person rather than making a booking over the phone. This way, you can have a nosy around and get a feel for the place. If the garage is bustling with customers, then it’s a good sign of a popular and reliable service, but if it’s eerily quiet then it could be a signal to go elsewhere.
Have a look out for any proudly framed awards or certificates on the walls and you could always have a quick chat with any of the customers to find out what they think of the service.
On the day
It’s a good idea to stay and watch the work on your vehicle being done, as this means your mechanic can communicate easily with you. However, this isn't always practical so if you have to dash off, then you should make some relevant checks before you go.
Firstly, make it clear to your mechanic that you want the authority to proceed with any work that they do. Leave a phone number with them so they can contact you before they undertake any work and make sure you’re aware of the entire costs involved.
Recent question on this topic
- Charles Sule asks:
Like any business, garages love to pounce the prospect of ‘add-ons’ on you. So, similar to McDonalds where they ask if you’d like to supersize your shake, mechanics often encourage you to pay extra for additional services that you might not necessarily need
Before you go the garage, check the tread depth of your tyres to ensure that they’re above the legal minimum of 1.6mm. This means you’ll know whether you need to take up the mechanic’s enthusiastic offer to replace all your tyres.
The same goes for replacing brake pads and adjusting tracking. Make sure you know how long it’s been since these services have been done and ask exactly how much wear is left on the brake pads. If there is more than 40% left, then they may not need changing, so do your research beforehand.
So, the bottom line is, finding a reliable and cost-friendly mechanic is easy, as long as you do the relevant research before you hand over your vehicle.