The average hourly rate for garage repair stands at £75 – and if you go to a BMW dealer it can cost over £200! But getting your car fixed doesn’t have to be a financial pain. There are some brilliant ways to save cash when you need to take your car into the garage for repair.
Travel Further Away From Home
We’re not talking driving 100 miles away (think of the petrol costs!), but even if you drive as little as 15 – 20 miles further from home, you might find a much cheaper garage. Compare prices and shop around – it could save you almost half the money if you didn’t. The rate is in line with London weighting, so if you live in the surrounding counties it may be worth travelling to the next county out. For example, if you live in Surrey you’ll be paying an average hourly cost of £85.83. But if you venture a couple of miles over the border to East Sussex you can expect to pay £77.76.
Take Your Car to a Council-Run MOT Centre
A little-known trick to cutting the amount of cash you give to the garage is to visit a council MOT centre. You can save as much as 50% on your MOT bill compared to using a non-council MOT centre. They’re open to the public but rarely advertise this – so it’s all perfectly legal! This is especially a great tip for those of you with older cars. A MOT would normally cost a small fortune with these cars! Another great advantage of using a council-run MOT centre is that the staff are far less likely to fail your car as they don’t do repairs.
Franchised garages tend to cost around 45% more than independents. Of course, franchised garages already have an established reputation. So it may be worth asking around for people’s recommendations on independent garages as their reputations tend to fare well through word of mouth.
It’s also a great idea to check the ratings of these garages and check that they’re registered with the Independent Garage Association (IGA) – home to the excellent Trust My Garage scheme. This shows that the garage has signed a declaration complying with the IGA’s strict code of conduct. Another good website is whocanfixmycar.com. Simply type in your car registration, when you need it fixed, what’s wrong with your car and your contact details to get details of the best deals near you.
Read Up and Be in the Know
It takes years for mechanics to become car repair experts. But it only takes a few moments to research your car so you have at least some knowledge. All you really need to know is your car’s model, mileage, age, fuel type, engine size and registration to show the mechanic you’re in the know. If you have a bit more time, you could actually take a basic car maintenance and repair course – especially if cars are one of your favourite hobbies.
You could end up learning how to fix certain things yourself, saving you money in the long run. After all, learning how to fix a car is a lifelong skill you can use any time. It could come in handy should you breakdown on a motorway! In fact, for simpler jobs, you don’t really need to visit a garage. For example, if you need to change a bulb in your headlight then it’s easy enough to watch a quick online tutorial. Or even ask an experienced friend.
When you leave your car in the garage, it might be a good idea to leave your manual on the backseat of your car or somewhere the mechanic will spot it easily. This shows the mechanic you know at least the basic info about your car. It might even reduce your chances of being ripped off.
Ask for an Estimate Before the Work Starts
Being specific about what you want the mechanic to do and asking for an estimate before any work is done on the car is one of the best ways to go to cut the amount of cash you give to the garage. That way, you can go and compare prices in the area and even tell the mechanic you’ve found somewhere cheaper. They might try and do you a better deal if so! Make sure you ask if the price includes everything including VAT and, if applicable, a replacement car.
Get Serviced Every Year Without Fail
This can save you so much cash in the long-run. Make sure you give your car a service every year, preferably at an independent garage. Every six months it’s wise to change the oil and filter to prolong your engine’s life, saving so much trouble in the long-term.