How to get the most out of car servicing

If you're not mechanically minded, getting your car serviced can be a worrying time. Not only is it costly and time consuming to arrange, there's also the added fear of being ripped off.

Speak to just about any motorist and they'll have a servicing horror story. So how can you avoid a nasty experience of your own? Well, there are a number of steps you can take, but firstly you need to decide where you're going to get the work done.

If the car is still under warranty most motorists head to their main dealer. For peace of mind you can't beat it - mechanics are trained to manufacturer's standards, they'll have specialist tools for the job and detailed information on your car. However, you'll pay for the privilege – labour rates can be double that of an independent.

Block Exemption rules threw open servicing to non-franchised outlets and there are some very good ones out there. If you use an independent to carry out servicing during your car's warranty period make sure you tell them you want the work to meet manufacturer's guidelines. Often garages carry out set services and it's unlikely these will cover everything a main dealer's would.

Picking an independent outlet can be tricky though. You can choose from high street chains, specialists and the 'under the arches' type of establishments – but by far the best way is to get a recommendation from a friend. Failing that log on to where garages across the country are rated by their own customers. It's easy to find one near you.

When booking your car in, ask if they'll use pattern or original equipment parts (the latter is preferred), say you want to see any replaced bits and ask for a checklist of the work – all this will help keep the technicians on their toes.

If your car's older, you could try doing the work yourself or buy the parts and ask a garage to fit them – this way you'll only pay for labour. However, sometimes it can be easier to have the big jobs – like cambelt changes – carried out by the professionals.

Autoblog has come up with our top tips to help the process go even more smoothly.

Lost in translation

If you've got a problem you want looked at during the service, make sure you explain it. Writing the symptoms down so it can be handed to the mechanic is a good idea as important points can be lost when relayed by a receptionist.

Make your mark

Simply scratching a small tag on air and oil filters is a good way of knowing whether a part has been replaced instead of cleaned. Ask to see replaced parts, but remember the garage will still have to dispose of them properly.

Above and beyond

Services are set checks coupled with essential replacement of parts, but there are occasions you'll want other work carried out, such as air con recharging. Remember to ask for this when you book your car in and get a quote first.

Quote vs estimate

A quote is the fixed price of what it will cost to do a job. Garages must stick by these and can't charge you more. However, if you're given an estimate this is different. This price can be increased should they find it takes longer to do the job. Make sure you know which you've been given and get them in writing before agreeing to have the work done.

Cover up

Good garages will offer a guarantee on their work. Find out what it covers, and for how long, prior to booking your car in. Plus remember to get your service book stamped and keep any receipts to prove the work's been carried out.
Read Full Story