Service savings on your doorstep - Going independent

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In our poll, 43% of motorists thought they couldn't get servicing done at an independent garage if their car was within the manufacturer's warranty period.

This is not the case. Some manufacturers used to insist on this, but it's been nearly four years since the Office of Fair Trading told them to dump these restrictive clauses.

The OFT reckoned the average saving at independent garages was £83 - or £1.4 billion in total. It also said that there was no apparent difference in the service offered.

We do have concerns that having independent services during the warranty period might harm the resale values of prestige cars, but it's really not a problem for the majority of cars if you follow these guidelines:

How to protect your warranty
• Make sure your garage sticks to the letter of the manufacturer's service schedule.

• Ask that they use original parts, or those of matching quality at the very least, to maintain the warranty. Ask to keep the receipts for these so you can prove such parts were used.

• If quotes are drastically lower, double-check that the work they're doing is the same as other garages.

• Always ask for a complete price including parts, labour and VAT. Get it in writing before you commit.

• If unexpected work is required, a garage should contact you for authorisation. Mention this when you drop off your car so you won't have any surprises when you collect it.

• Try to choose garages that have won a BSI Automotive Kitemark for reaching a set level of service.
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