As Britain’s leading independent garage scheme with almost 2000 members, we pride ourselves on looking after our garage’s customers. This is why we have our Customer Charter, which shows our commitment in providing the best possible care to those who pay for a service, MOT or repair at any of our garages.
Unfortunately, some franchised dealers and other independent garages don’t have the same idea. Let’s take MOT tests as an example.
‘The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.’
This statement is taken from the government’s own website, and it appears to give a perfectly clear and straightforward message for motorists. Unfortunately, the way we treat the MOT test, both in the motor trade and as private motorists, allows commercial considerations to get in the way of safety.
What this often means is the cheapest MOT test is not necessarily the best. This point should be immediately clear to even the most cost-sensitive motorist. The tests can only be conducted by a trained and qualified individual; he or she will require sophisticated, expensive and regularly calibrated equipment and the test should take around 45 minutes to complete.
Garages charging around £20 for an MOT test – or even less in some cases – are not charities. The result is that the overall bill may be significantly higher than expected as the garage seeks to cover the cost of providing the MOT test at an unrealistic and headline-grabbing price.
And the financial pressure on motorists today means that they are not entirely innocent when it comes to their MOT test, either.
Many motorists today use the MOT as an alternative to regular maintenance and submit a car for testing to “see what it fails on” rather than presenting a properly maintained and safe car in expectation that it will pass. This means that they only deal with the failures rather than ensuring that the entire car is safe and reliable.
As an MOT test is a measure of the minimum mechanical standard of a vehicle at that time, this means cars that are between tests may be in a particularly poor state of repair – or even dangerous.
So, a lot of garages respond to this by offering a “no re-test fee” for failures and the cycle continues.
Franchised dealers, with their high labour rates, have often been known to treat the MOT as a loss-leader to retain customers with older vehicles. They also try to give the impression that their MOT test is somehow superior to ones carried out by an independent garage.
Well, this tactic is clearly not working as more than 80 per cent of MOTs are carried out in independent garages.
The UK has one of the best road-worthiness test regimes in Europe, which is reflected in the high levels of road safety compared to some of our European neighbours. But we, at Trust My Garage, are worried that the downward cost spiral for the MOT test in our ever competitive world means that this situation may not last.
So, where does all that leave you, the motorist?
The obvious answer is to place your faith in Trust My Garage. Even if the price is discounted, a motorist can take comfort in the knowledge that any one of our garages will do a proper job – and charge fairly for only those parts that need to be replaced.
In the longer term, the answer is a fixed, or minimum, price for MOTs and a mandatory re-test fee. After all, fair pricing for MOT tests is not only better for motorists, but for garages too. And it will be great news for other road users because more cars will be safer if the industry overall cleans up its act.
The Independent Garage Association will continue to lobby and campaign for the government to enforce this. It is one of the roles of Trust My Garage to educate people to the reasons behind this stance.
Do you want to know where your nearest Trust My Garage is for an honest and professional MOT? Just type your postcode into our garage finder to find your nearest member.
Are you the proud new owner of a 63 plate? A new car is a significant investment so you will want to make sure that it is properly maintained. But where is the best place to get quality regular servicing at value for money prices?
The proud owner may ask themselves…
“If I buy a new car I can only use the main dealer for servicing and repairs so that I don’t infringe my warranty”
Wrong! Under European Law the Block Exemption Regulations give you the right to have your vehicle serviced, maintained, and repaired at an independent garage of your choice without invalidating your warranty – TRUTH!
Also, did you know that recent research undertaken by the Independent Garage Association revealed that Main Dealers can be up to £40 an hour more expensive than independent garages.
So, having experienced the joys of your new driving machine and all the latest innovative technology and gadgetry that the manufacturers have designed to make your motoring safer, more comfortable and even more enjoyable, you want the same quality support when it comes to vehicle servicing.
Although taking your car to a Main Dealer might be the normal thing to do, you can equally get a professional and honest service and pay a reasonable price for parts and labour from a good independent garage.
There are thousands of quality independent garages that are perfectly competent to service newly manufactured cars. They have full access to manufacturer information and operate equipment and tools that can analyse faults on your vehicle and with quality parts and trained staff, independent garages are able to offer you safe and clean mobility throughout the entire life cycle of your car. Taking your brand new car to an independent garage will not invalidate your warranty as long as the garage services the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s schedule using parts which are of “equivalent quality”.
Most of the parts which are fitted to a modern car during routine servicing are not made by the vehicle manufacturer themselves anyway. Parts such as brakes pads and oil and air filters which are supplied to vehicle manufacturers for OE (“Original Equipment”) fitment are usually available with the actual makers branding at significantly lower cost – so they are not just “equivalent quality” , they are identical apart from the box they come in.
How am I affected?
As a consumer you are no longer forced to rely on the vehicle manufacturer as the exclusive supply source for parts and repair services for the aftermarket care of your vehicle. Your car is your property and the law enables you to choose exactly who carries out the work on your car.
Even if your car has an electronic service record held digitally in the vehicle manufacturer’s systems, the same rules give the independent garage the right to access and update the record to keep your vitally important service history intact.
Why go to a TRUST MY GARAGE approved independent garage?
The Independent Garage Association recently polled over 2000 of its members on their labour rates and results concluded, that independent garages ‘continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.’ Figures from the poll show that the average labour cost is slightly over £40 for independent garages, and the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates survey demonstrates that average labour rates for franchise garages stand at a national average of £95.94, with some franchised dealers charging a staggering £55.94 an hour more than independents.
Access to technical information and quality parts
Although independents cost a significant amount less that main dealers there is no compromise on the level of expertise and parts. All TRUST MY GARAGE members have access to the same level of technical information and quality parts. Training is also no different and most independent garages train their staff to the same levels as main dealers.
No car is a challenge
TRUST MY GARAGE members are specialists in all makes and models and work to very high standards continuing to achieve key industry standards set by TRUST MY GARAGE.
A more personal service
Independent garages are renowned for their friendly faces and high customer retention levels. All TRUST MY GARAGE members pride themselves on the personal service that they provide their customers with, in order to increase the level of trust between them. The TRUST MY GARAGE customer charter states that all garages must explain the work they do clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with respect.
So if you’re now thinking again about where to take your new car for a service, find your local TRUST MY GARAGE member HERE without worrying about invalidating your warranty!