Not being mechanically-minded can make you feel vulnerable when going into a garage visit with a fear of being “ripped off”. In a recent WCFMC drivers survey, we found that one of drivers’ biggest concerns when seeking car repairs was that they would be taken advantage of.
AutoMD uncovered shocking statistics which revealed that people actually found visiting the dentist more appealing than visiting a garage for car repairs.
However, here at WCFMC we believe that with the right attitude and knowledge you can enter a garage with confidence and leave satisfied with your repairs and experience. It can certainly be intimidating entering an environment that you are not used to, which is why we have compiled some top tips on feeling comfortable during your garage visit.
Garages in our network are friendly and willing to help, they have to be a trusted business/individual to be a part of the Who Can Fix My Car network. Thus, booking through our site will give you the peace of mind that the garages you can choose from are reliable and reviewed transparently by thousands of past customers.
Go in to any garage visit armed with as much info about your car and the problem at hand as you can – Google is your best mate. Make sure you’ve anticipated the problem and have at least a brief idea of the work that may be carried out.
Do your research on the garage itself – that’s why WCFMC garage profile pages are extremely useful. Of course Who Can Fix My Car also allows you to access reviews, enabling you to get a flavour of the mechanics before you show up on the day. You might want to consider whether a lot of people in reviews have commented on the mechanic’s friendliness and ability to explain the work they are undertaking clearly. Read through as many reviews as you like both prior to choosing a garage and before your visit to ease any nerves and clue yourself up on other drivers’ advice.
Keeping certain aspects of your car in best condition will avoid any unexpected costs, especially before an MOT – Ensure tyre pressure levels are correct and that oil levels are topped up regularly to the appropriate level.
Leave a workshop manual in your car, this will tell the mechanic that you are well informed about car repairs.
Aforementioned, do your research about the problem at hand so you are prepared if they ask you any questions
If you are worried about being taken advantage of during your garage visit, look out for any scare tactics. For example, any excessive head shakes and mutterings, “you won’t want to hear this but…”. Make sure your mechanic is enthusiastic rather than acting cagey. If you hear those fateful words “I have some bad news for you” make sure you’re explained exactly how and why. Also, if the mechanic adds a huge sum to the bill, do your research and don’t agree to pay the unexpected bill right away. If it seems too high, say you would like to gather more quotes to compare. This might make them realise that you need to be taken seriously.
Simply: If you don’t understand what you’re paying for, ask. Don’t be embarrassed, it is your right to ask what work is being done, it is your car.
Some questions to ask at the garage to ease your nerves and gather info:
How long will the work take, and when will it be completed?
Can I see the replacement parts?
Please can I have a written invoice?
What happens if I don’t fix this today?
Please can you explain how you fixed this?
Drivers often cite garage jargon as one of the most intimidating aspects of a garage visit. The language barrier can make you feel inadequate and deeply confused. You can certainly feel out of your depth, both as a new motorist or/and as someone who isn’t sure of the inner workings of your vehicle. Akin to medicine and computers, mechanics use specialised language which those who have not dedicated time to the field, may not understand. Causing drivers to fear that any negotiation attempts will be laughed at and not taken seriously.
“your big end has gone”. A large bearing (part of the engine) has worn out and failed which can cause extensive engine damage if left untreated. A symptom of this is a knocking noise when driving, particularly in acceleration.
“your little end has gone”. This time its a small bearing which has worn out, which again can be identified by a knocking noise.
“the clutch is slipping”. A component of the clutch which allows the smooth changing of gears is not functioning properly. Clutch slipping only deteriorates with time so requires efficient repair.
“you need a re-gas”. Your air-con system has lost its pressure which can also cause a leak, this is a simple and low cost procedure that needs doing every year or so.
“we need to do a pressure test”. The mechanic wants to pump pressurised liquid though the cylinder to check for cracks and leaks.
“excessive play”. Used when describing a part of your steering or suspension that is moving more than it should be or when it shouldn’t be at all.
“I need to access your CAN-bus”. The CAN-bus is a term for the electronics system with connects the ECU (engine control unit) to other parts of your vehicle.
“your bushes on the wishbone are going”. Bushes are small rubber components that are attached to the triangular parts (wishbones) on your suspension. As the bushes are made of rubber they will inevitably wear overtime. However, do not fret as this is a relatively inexpensive repair.
“You’ve got mayonnaise under the oil cap”. A thick white liquid (akin to mayo) can gather when water/condensation mixes with engine oil. Its appearance is an indication of head-gasket problems.