State of independents
The Office of Fair Trading says the standard of work at independent garages is just as good as it is at franchised dealers, but some of the quotes we got were so low or vague that they left us a little uneasy.
We always asked for quotes that covered all parts, labour and VAT, but were suspicious that these type of rock-bottom prices including just 60 for a service on a Jaguar XF might be too good to be true. After all, you could easily spend 60 just on the oil for a Jaguar XF service, let alone the other parts, labour and VAT, so how could the workshop do it properly for this price?
As well as an authorised Jaguar repairer who didn't know that an XF was a Jag, other independent garages also gave us quotes without even asking which car we had. Some asked what needed to be done to the car, which we thought they should know since they were about to service it for us.
A few garages also told us that they couldn't do the work, and that we should take our car to a franchised dealer. We appreciated their honesty!
Other garages did manage to put us at ease: some called us back after collecting details and checking prices for all of the necessary parts, while others understood that we felt anxious about not using a franchised dealer, and reassured us that work would be done according to the manufacturer's schedule and using original parts, which is essential to protect your warranty.
Get it wrong and you could invalidate your warranty, and on high-performance, high-value or prestige models, you're also likely to harm the car's resale values if work hasn't been carried out at a franchised dealer.