When you need work on your car; a service, a fault repaired, an MOT or bodywork repaired it can sometimes be difficult to find a garage you can trust. There are lots of different things you can and should look out for and our article explains them.
Always look at a garage’s website to check it looks professional and details a wide range of the services that they offer with enough detail for you to understand what you can expect.
A garage offering a wide range of services will normally be an established garage that has been running for many years. The benefits of a garage offering a range of services for you as a customer is that once you’ve found them, any work needed on your vehicle can be done by them including its annual MOT. If there are any MOT failures on your vehicle then you know you can trust the garage to fix them and retest your vehicle, sometimes the same day.
A garage that offers MOT’s will have been rigorously checked by an AE which is an individual, partnership or company authorised by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). The AE is responsible for making sure that:
Before a garage can carry out an MOT they need:
A garage that carries out MOT’s must display their current ‘authorisation of examiner’ certificate (VT9) on their public noticeboard, along with the current MOT test fees and appeals information poster (VT9A).
There are lots of requirements and ongoing checks, processes and systems that an MOT garage needs to consistently demonstrate to ensure they continue to have the authority to legally conduct MOT tests and retests. DVSA uses a system to calculate the potential risk of every MOT tester and centre not meeting the required standards. This is called a risk rating. They also carry out a site review (previously called a ‘site assessment’) of an MOT centre at least once every 3 years and the garage is not informed when this will be.
An MOT test takes anything from 40 minutes to an hour and you can stay with your vehicle when it is being carried out. All MOT test stations have to provide a viewing area for you to watch your vehicle being MOT’d.
All of this normally means the garage is a successful business which has invested a lot of time and money in becoming an authorised MOT test station, this includes having big enough premises as well as investing in equipment and ongoing training for their team.
Independent Review Sites offer exactly that, independent customer reviews that cannot be changed or amended by a business, therefore, giving you a very open and honest view of the garage and the service an individual has received. Independent and trusted review sites include; Ekomi, Google My Business, Feefo, Trust Pilot, Yelp, Which and there are many more. You can also check a garages social media pages as this is quite often where customers will leave both good and bad reviews.
Examples of Garage Specific Review sites are; Bosch Car Service, the Good Garage Scheme the Trust My Garage. All of these, give you an idea about the standard of the services they offer.
Always bear in mind though that there will be some negative reviews left that aren’t always the businesses fault so you should look at how many excellent and good reviews there are compared to any poor ones.
As well as independent review sites offering honest feedback to customers they also give a garage an opportunity to learn and make changes to their service or products. A garage business can see where they are both failing and exceeding their customer’s needs and expectations and make the appropriate changes in-house. If a company is registered with an independent review site it means they are open to their customer’s honest feedback about their service and it also gives them an opportunity to contact any customers if they seem unhappy or they haven’t met their expectations. If a garage has an independent review site link on their website then this is normally a good sign they are a garage you can trust.
Recommendations from family, friends or neighbours is a great way of finding a garage you can trust.
Another great way of asking for recommendations is through local community Facebook groups. You will almost always receive loads of feedback from local people who will know the garages in their local area, both good and bad which gives you a wider view and different options.
A garage who has a Live WebCam feed where you can watch your vehicle being worked on will nearly always be a reputable and professional garage who are open, honest and confident about the level and quality of service they offer.
You can watch your car being repaired and see the level of workmanship and time that is taken on your vehicle and this is often really re-assuring. There aren’t many garages that offer this service so if you find one then it almost always indicates they are professional and a reputable garage you can trust.
An MOT test takes anything from 40 minutes to an hour and you can stay with your vehicle when it is being carried out. All MOT test stations have to provide a viewing area if you want to watch. An MOT test centre will be confident with the services they provide, their team and their workmanship so it is positive if you are looking for a garage you can trust.
Some garages will also have live webcams so you can see your vehicle being worked on or viewing areas for their servicing and repair areas.
If a garage offers you a courtesy car whilst your vehicle is being repaired or serviced then not only does it make it more convenient for you but it shows you they are a professional garage who invest in the service they offer to their customers and want to make it as easy as they can for them when their car is with them.
Similar to a courtesy car a drop off to work or home and pick up to take you back to the garage when your car is ready is much like a courtesy car service and makes your life a whole lot easier than having to waste time waiting at the garage whilst your car is there. This shows the garage wants to provide the best service they can and appreciate their customers time and business.
If the garage you are going to are multi-manufacturer specialists then this is also a good sign as you get the best of both worlds; all the benefits and experience of the main dealer garage but with lower prices, convenience and the personalised service of an independent garage.
Specialists garages charge less than main dealers and as well as this, they give you a wider choice of spare parts that can be used and can advise you of any impact to your vehicles warranty.
At a main dealer garage you are likely to meet different mechanics on every visit, however an independent specialist garage you will meet the same team who will get to know you and your car which gives you a more personalised service.
If you know what is wrong or what you need for your car then it’s a good idea to shop around and ask for a couple of quotes from different garages, If a quote varies widely then you should be very careful if you are thinking about using that garage and always ask them why their quote is so different to the others you have received. Most garages will be able to give you a rough idea of the cost and when you decide to go with them a written quote detailing the work they will carry out and the parts they will use. Always remember this may change if there is more work to do when they start but always ask them to call you beforehand if this is the case. A good and reputable trusted garage will have fixed prices for MOT’s and services and you should be able to see these on their website.
When asking for quotes, ask what their policy is if additional work or parts are needed. A garage you can trust will contact you to let you know what the situation is, what the problem is and how much extra it will cost you. This enables you to decide if you want to go ahead with the extra repairs and parts.
Always make sure your quote includes VAT, labour and parts so there are no surprises when the work is done. If you need to check the garage will use approved or equivalent parts, so you don’t invalidate any remaining warranty on your vehicle.
When you are sourcing quotes, find out what the guarantees are for any parts used and any labour that is carried out by them. Good and trustable garages will either use approved or equivalent parts so always find out about this. If you still have a warranty on your vehicle there are always clauses around dealers or garages you are able to use, as well as parts so be sure you don’t invalidate it. You don’t have to use a main dealer but you may have to use approved parts to keep its warranty in place. A garage you can trust will be able to tell you how long the guarantee on the parts is and what happens if something goes wrong within that time. Some parts only have a short guarantee due to their high use whilst others might be 12 months or a certain number of miles.
When you collect your vehicle, ask for a clearly marked VAT invoice that details the work done, parts used and cost. Also, be sure to get a stamp in your service book if it has gone for a service.
When you call a garage to ask them for a quote you should receive a friendly response and if you don’t then you may want to consider not booking your car in with them. A trusted garage will have polite and friendly staff who want to give all their customers an excellent service from the time they first call in through to picking up their car after its service, MOT or repair.
Important things to remember when taking your car to a garage
Why is AP Autocare is A Garage you can Trust?
If you are looking for a garage you can trust then contact us today on 0117 963 8916 and one of our team will be able to answer any questions you may have or can book your vehicle in with us for an MOT, Service, Repair and much more.
Published: Monday 20th January 2020