Motorists must ‘do their homework’ when choosing a garage | Advice - Car News May 2022

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13:31 Thursday 19 May 2022

Motorists are being urged to ask key questions before choosing an independent garage to service their car.

In particular, electric vehicle owners should make sure an independent garage has the technical capabilities to service and/or repair their car. 

Simon Harris, Head of Valuations at UK Vehicle Data, said that car owners "need to do their homework and be satisfied that the workshop they choose has the required level of knowledge and familiarity with the work".

“Hybrids have been on the market now for more than 20 years, so there will be plenty of technicians in the independent network that will be familiar with the technology, and slowly this will be the case with electric cars," he said. 

“Many technicians at reputable independent garages will have gained experience at a franchise dealer workshop previously.”

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, said that all franchised dealers with a hybrid or pure electric vehicle in their range will be trained by the manufacturer to carry out all types of maintenance and repairs involving electric components.

It is important to check that an independent garage is able to do manufacturer software updates and upgrades, like a franchised dealers. 

Other things motorists should ask are whether the independent uses manufacturer-approved parts and fluids or not (as this is essential to preserve a car's warranty), and how long the work will take. 

As CarSite recently highlighted, independents have cheaper labour rates than main dealers but the work can take longer meaning the total cost can be the same. 

Jeremy Yea, Senior Valuations Editor at car pricing business Cap HPI, also advised looking at what else is included in the total price. 

He said: “Servicing with an independent garage may be cheaper, but a franchise dealer may offer more services as part of the cost, such as cleaning the vehicle before it is returned and potentially carrying out any essential or even non-essential recall work/software upgrades especially for battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. An independent may not be able to offer some of these services.”

Some premium car brands like Audi will offer a free health check* - essentially a visual inspection of your car’s safety-related components to ensure it is safe and road-legal.

Drivers should also find out whether an independent garage belongs to an independent trade organisation or scheme such as Good Garage Guide or Trust My Garage. 

*Sometimes we show a link with a * next to it as it can sometimes result in a payment or benefit to the site.

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