How to get the most out of your garage

Taking your car to the garage may seem like a hassle, but – with the mechanic on your side – you can get a lot of value from your visit.

When it comes to your garage, a little knowledge can go a long way. So, here are our top tips on what to watch out for, and how to communicate with your garage in order to get the most from the service:

Pick a quiet time

Garages are generally busiest in the morning and evening as people drop off and pick up their cars around their work schedule. Avoid these times in order to get your garage’s full attention.

Be specific

Be as specific as possible when describing your car’s condition. Before you even arrive, let them know the car’s age and mileage so it can be matched to the manufacturer’s records.

If you want a specific problem to be addressed, make sure you tell the garage’s receptionist when you book your car in. This will enable them to give you an accurate pick-up time, and help signpost the mechanic towards potential problem areas. Explain any issues you’ve experienced clearly; they may be able to diagnose an issue just by talking to you.

Ask for an initial estimate, but bear in mind that this may change if it’s found that items such as your brake fluid, timing belt or antifreeze need replacing. You can reduce the risk of such costly surprises by conducting regular vehicle maintenance checks.

Respect your garage

Being polite and courteous should get you into your mechanic’s good books, and may even help you get back on the road faster. Bear in mind that problems can arise – either additional fixes or problems with paperwork – that cause things to get delayed.

Cars are getting ever more complicated, meaning it can take longer to access specific components. It also means that bespoke replacement parts are often not stored to hand, so the mechanic will need to order them in. This is likely to make things take longer and cost more.

Understand your bill

Once your car’s been fixed, it’s time to settle the payment – and, we all know that a trip to the garage rarely comes cheap. Your bill will include a number of elements (some of which you may not expect). Here’s a breakdown of what you’re likely to see:

Labour rates: These vary significantly from garage to garage. Franchise dealers generally have higher rates than independents as they have additional commercial costs. Experienced mechanics will also expect to be paid a rate that reflects their skills.
Environmental charge: There are many substances in and around a garage that are classed as toxic, such as engine oil, petrol and antifreeze. The garage has to pay for these to be properly disposed of; an expense that will be listed on your invoice as an ‘environmental charge’.
Itemised invoice: The garage should outline all other services on your itemised invoice. This should detail everything that has been done to your car; how long each process took and the cost of all new or replacement parts.

If you are unsure of any of the charges listed, ask the receptionist or the mechanic to explain further.

With a little practical knowledge and professional respect, you can get more out of your next trip to the garage. Try out these tips and see what difference it can make.

If you want to find out about our new cars, get on down to your local Perrys dealer.