If you have not got break down cover either through your insurance company, through your bank or direct through one of the break down companies, then you are taking a bit of a risk every time you drive your car. With breakdown cover costing as little as £5 – £10 per month, it really won’t break the bank but can save you a fortune in recovery costs.
There are often different packages available when taking out break down such as road side assistance, home start and nation wide recovery. It is important to understand exactly what cover you want and to check that the package offers that before committing. As with all policies you do get 14 days to cancel should you make a mistake.
Many breakdown policies that are offered as free through your bank account etc only offer minimal cover so you may wish to upgrade or take out additional cover anyway.
If you often drive other cars or are a passenger in another vehicle then you may want to take out cover that covers you and not just the one car you are driving for further peace of mind.
When you need your vehicle repaired it can be quite a mine field, particularly if you don’t know much about cars.
So how can you get your car fixed without being ripped off?
Firstly always ask for personal recommendations for garages that people you know have used before or failing that look up online reviews before contacting any garages to ensure that they do not have negative feedback.
It’s then a good idea to do a bit of your own research online as to what the issue could be with the car along with a guideline as to how much you can expect to pay for the repair.
Once you have an idea of what may need doing you could then ring around a number of local garages to get a quote. Once you have found one that you are happy with ensure to ask them to take a look at the car and asses what needs doing and then contact you prior to any work being carried out on the car so that you can authorise work only once a price is agreed.
Never allow yourself you be rushed into any decisions or be pushed into going ahead with a garage just because you’ve contacted them for a quote, a good garage will be happy to answer your questions and will be able to give you a comprehensive quote for the work to be done.
If you have recently had a new car or have noticed a new noise or some odd behaviour then you are likely to panic what it is and we often assume the worse. It is right to be concerned if you notice something different about the way your car sounds or drive or notice that it is using too much fuel for example, but sometimes we may put off taking it to the garage in fear that we may have to fork out a lot of money.
Often these noises etc. may only be something small and it might be easily fixed but even if it isn’t the chances are, if you leave it, it will only get worse. The problem arises when we notice something wrong and do nothing to then find that something has broken, such as the cam belt, which has caused additional damage as a result. This may have been avoided had the initial problem been investigate as and when it should of.
Ensuring that all your fluid levels are topped up, that the car is regularly serviced and generally looking after your vehicle can help avoid some problems and if not avoid them, may be an opportunity for them to be picked up before they get too bad.
Finding a garage or mechanic that can work on your car can be easy as there are quite a few choices, but finding one that you can trust is often a different story. Some people choose to only ever take their car to a main dealer for repair or maintenance work. This is often more so with new cars that maybe are still under a manufacturer’s warranty, but main dealer prices for labour and for parts can be quite a bit higher than a local garage or mobile mechanic.
When shopping around for a mechanic, try and use one that has been recommended to you or that has a lot of good independent reviews. If you are ever in doubt about work that you have been quoted for from a mechanic or garage then I would strongly suggest getting a second opinion, as many places will do this for a small charge or even for free.
If you need work doing on your car and it is not able to be driven to a garage or you cannot have the time off work to take it to one, then you may want to consider using a mobile mechanic. People often assume that a mobile mechanic will charge more to carry out services and repairs that taking it to a workshop but this is often not the case. As a mobile mechanic can save money on the costs of leasing/ owning a workshop and the bills that come with it, they can often significantly reduce their labour charges.
Mobile mechanics may not be able to undertake all jobs if for example it requires the car to be lifted up on to a ramp, but they may have access to a ramp that they use or can take it to a garage that they are affiliated with for you.
Make sure that you always read reviews on mobile mechanics and never just had over your car to someone that you have little information on.
A puncture can happen at any time and can not only be inconvenient but can be costly and not to mention dangerous. Often it is caused by driving over debris in the road or even hitting a pot hole too hard and can happen to a brand new tyre. Some punctures can be repaired whilst other will require a new tyre to be fitted. You can expect to pay upwards of fifteen pounds per repair.
If you have a slow puncture then it is tempting to just keep inflating it every couple of days to get you through, but you are running the risk of making the puncture worse and also of the tyre becoming dangerous and causing the car to lose control.
If you notice that you have a flat tyre or under inflated tyre then you need to fill it up with air but check it again the next day to see if it has gone down again. Tyres do lose pressure naturally over time but it should not be happening in the space of a few days or even a few weeks.
While a dealership will fit genuine or Original Equipment Manufacturer parts (OEM for short) an independent garage will probably use aftermarket car parts but is this something to be concerned about? Aftermarket parts will probably be cheaper but does this mean they are lower quality?
While the old adage “you get what you pay for” is often true, it could also be said that you pay a lot for a name. You may assume that genuine parts will be of better quality but this may not be the case, aftermarket parts may be reverse engineered so money is saved on development allowing the manufacturer to improve quality at a lower cost. Genuine parts may differ from OEM parts only in the packaging. Factor in the price difference which can be up to 70% and those non-genuine parts can look pretty appealing.
Cheaper parts may not come with a warranty and you should check the terms of your vehicles warranty when getting it serviced. If you’re concerned about non genuine parts, you could insist that your garage orders in the genuine parts.
When it comes to car repairs many of us worry about getting ripped off and over charged for work or quoted for work that doesn’t need doing. Finding a mechanic that you can trust is one way to put your mind at ease, although this can take some time.
I recently used a garage that my sister had used previous following the good experience she had had with them, but unfortunately, my experience was somewhat different.
I took my car in for a MOT to be told that the handbrake had failed and would need replacing costing just over £220. I needed the vehicle as soon as possible so agreed for them to go ahead with the work. Once I had collected the car and got it home, I found that the hand brake would not hold on my drive and after a call was told that it would take some time for it to bed in. A few weeks later I still had the same issue and they replaced the handbrake again, still not fixing the issue. I found it hard to believe that a handbrake that was working fine (to my knowledge) could then be replaced and not working correctly but was told that it was just the way they worked on BMW’s. I lost all faith in the garage and ended up taking it elsewhere.
I recently had an issue on my Vauxhall Vetra that caused the back end of the car to skip out when travelling a normal speeds and going round a bend. This was especially noticeable if there was a slight dip in the road or a pot hole. I first inspected my tyres which had over 8 mm of tread left meaning that low tread level was not the issue. The car was also very bumpy in general.
Upon taking the car in to a local garage, they inspected the suspension on the vehicle. The fault was found to be caused by the shock absorbers and they would need to be replaced in order to rectify the situation.
I was quoted a price of £200 for the pair which I felt was extremely expensive for a relatively small part, but after ringing around a bit managed to get the car suspension parts down to £150. It just shows what calling around can save you!
Used cars can be a nightmare. You often take a risk when buying one not knowing if there is anything wrong with it or if there is anything likely to go wrong soon. Too many people get tricked in to buying a car that the previous owner knows is on its last legs or is going to cost a lot to get it through its next MOT and this can be awful for the new owner.
If you have a car that needs repairing always try and find out the full extent of the work required before they start, it may be that you even have to pay a labour charge for them to spend and hour or so stripping it down to find out what the issues is but this can be well worth the money. You may find that actually the car is going to cost far more to repair than it is worth and therefore you are better to scrap it and start again. But on the other hand sometimes it is better the devil you know and you may want to pay to have the issues fixed knowing you have peace of mind that it has been done and should not go wrong again in the near future.