Don't pay over the odds

* Independent dealers... * ...or main dealers? * Where should you go?...

05 August 2011

Non-genuine parts arent necessarily bad news if theyre simple, common items such as oil- or air filters. It often pays to use better-quality components for anything complex or bespoke to a particular car, though. Ask what kind of parts a garage is using beforehand.

The price will usually reflect this, but theres no reason why the garage cant order in better-quality items if youre willing to pay extra.

To keep your cars warranty intact, servicing must be carried out using genuine parts and to the manufacturers schedule. If the car goes back to a main dealer for warranty work at a later date, you may need to provide proof that it has been maintained to the manufacturers specified standard. Keep all documentation of past work and ask the garage to state the use of original parts on the bill if it isnt already.

Dont pay over the odds
No garage has the right to increase your bill without contacting you first, but they can retain your car under a lien, which is the right to keep it until payment has been made. However, youre breaking the law if you take your car without the staffs permission. If you cant come to an agreement, mark the invoice as paid under protest and take the issue up with a consumer body or lawyer.

If youre going down the independent route, then the best way to guarantee good service is by using a garage backed by a service scheme. Schemes such as Motor Codes, the Bosch Car Service and Trust My Garage get subscribing businesses to agree to a code of conduct and high standards of service. With Motor Codes you can even check feedback and comments from previous customers about individual garages on www.motorcodes.co.uk. If a subscribing garage delivers below-par service then you can contact the organisation, report any issue and action will be taken.

Work carried out by a main dealer always comes with a warranty and a guarantee, but this isnt the case with every independent. Any garage worth its salt will offer similar support many will mention it on their invoices and promotional literature but its worth finding out beforehand. Make sure you know what youre getting, and beware of any garage that doesnt offer a guarantee.