Here’s a short sweet story as Morgan Freeman would tell you (yes I have been watching too much TV!). I had a problem with my windscreen wipers, they worked intermittently so I took the car to a local garage, explained the problem and left it with them. Went back after an hour as they asked me to do, and was told that the problem had been sorted out, they had taken the steering column out, re wired all the electricals inside as water had gotten into the column, and now all was fine and that was £30 please. I thought Okay that seems reasonable and paid up and drove away. About a month later it was raining and I was out in the car, turned the wipers on and they failed. As it was too dangerous to drive in the rain without them working properly I had to call the AARoad Rescue out (other rescue services are available) and waited patiently for them to arrive. As soon as they did and I explained the problem, the man immediately had a look at the fuses underneath the steering column, went back into his truck, selected the correct one and replaced what I now know was a dodgy fuse. He tested it again and although it worked a few times, something was definitely making the wipers short the fuse out. After about ten minutes he had sussed the problem. The water pump was shorting the wipers so I knew not to operate that until I went to a proper garage to get it all fixed. And the cost of a fuse? Around 10p. So I know now that local garage completely ripped me off and when I looked more closely at the steering wheel, as I am not the most cleanest of car drivers, there was dust all over the column, which meant it had not been taken apart as the mechanic had told me. Now I have found, through word of mouth and via Google, a garage that takes part in the Good Garage Scheme and who treat their customers with respect and who always call me with an estimate first before attempting to carry out any work. So, if you are a lady, how can you prevent this sorry tale happening to you? Follow these simple tips, or get a bloke to go with you!
1: Focus on the Issue
Never ever tell a mechanic to ‘have a look and fix whatever is wrong with the car’. This gives unscrupulous garage workers carte blanche to bill you for work that is not necessary and for them to bump up the charges. Always tell them exactly what the problem is and make sure that is the only thing you want them to work on.
2: Get an Estimate
Always insist on an estimate before any work is carried out so that you are not pressured into agreeing the repairs. If you feel that the estimate is very high, you always then have the option of taking the car elsewhere and getting a second or even a third opinion. Any honest mechanic will not mind you doing this and will probably be waiting for you to come back to them after you find out they were the cheapest in the long run anyway.
3: Google is your friend!
Research the repair, if you know what the problem is, before you go to the garage, so that you have some idea already of the cost that you are about to be charged. Then, if it is a minor fault that takes no time to be repaired and the parts are cheap, you will know beforehand if you are being ripped off. A little knowledge goes a long way! And always ask for the old parts to be returned to you before they agree to start working on your car. Honest mechanics will have no problem with this request.
4: Take a friend with you
It is perfectly fine to being along a male friend or female, for extra backup, particularly if you find these sort of male dominated situations a little un-nerving. Better still if this friend has some knowledge about cars and the way they work and can do all the talking for you. It’s not cheating, it’s called getting the best out of the situation!
5: Word Of Mouth
As I did, finding a good garage sometimes is all about word of mouth and a good reputation is worth hundreds of pounds in advertising. So have an ask around and see what your neighbours think and who they go to for their car repairs. Another way to find a good garage is to see if they belong to any kind of scheme, such as the Good Garage Schemein the UK or the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) in the US.