Saturday 25 January 2020

How careful and comprehensive a service did your car receive?

Standards in garages vary greatly. In this case study, the cost of overlooked or missed faults came in at a hefty €2k

Standards in garages can vary greatly
Standards in garages can vary greatly

Declan O'Byrne

This is a salutary tale for all car owners.

The objective is to show how aware you need to be about who you get to fix, or check, over your car.

It is not a plug for one garage nor a condemnation of others but it is a warning that levels of attention to vital details are not uniform in different workshops. For legal reasons some names have had to be left out.

The reason we're telling this story today is that Motors Editor Eddie Cunningham receives complaints about the standards of servicing from time to time.

It can be difficult and time-consuming to excise the crank from the genuinely aggrieved.

However, the following may serve as a reminder to double check that whoever you entrust with the maintenance and upkeep of your car has done so properly and gone over all salient elements.

And particularly where safety is concerned.

As well as that, it is hoped that this example will underline the value of shopping around.

It is also important to emphasise that this is just one experience and is not intended to be a universal reflection of general standards.

The experience does show, however, that not everyone is at that level all the time.

This all started with the offer of a 'full service' at a dealership priced at €300 for a diesel car.

I also asked for a few extra bits of work to be undertaken. These included repairing a damaged seat, replacing a headlight bulb, and fitting (part supplied and bought separately elsewhere for €88) a new tailgate lock.

All of which pushed the bill just above the €600 mark, including VAT.

When the vehicle was collected the workshop advised that two tracking rods needed urgent attention and would cost a further €200.

But as subsequent findings were to reveal, there were several other problems I should have been told about.

On a friend's advice I took the car to Cars of Fairview run by partners Anthony Keyes and Kieran Whelan who are both qualified mechanics AND aviation engineers.

Anthony is formerly of Gerry Larkin Motors, Swords and Kieran formerly of Annesley Motors, Ballybough.

I asked Kieran to carry out the repairs to the tracking rods (for a more affordable €141.88).

And, as a new customer, my vehicle was given a free 50-point inspection (usual cost €50).

Their report on the vehicle's hidden potential dangers, faults and the shortcomings of the service itself, made for sobering reading.

Briefly included in their report were the following findings:

* Left rear suspension axle coil spring broken; last and bottom coil missing.

VERDICT: Should have been reported.

* Chassis longitudinal section from lower rad panel to main subframe, left and right lower, below drive shafts, and near forward wishbone bushes seem very loose and move quite easily.

VERDICT: Should have been reported. Requires further investigation.

* Cabin pollen filter very dirty and clearly not changed.

VERDICT: Should have been reported.

* Air filter not new and should have been changed at service (though the air filter is not necessarily changed at every service).

* Front suspension anti-roll bar rubbing off sub-frame leg left front, and anti roll-bar has a gouge in it where it is rubbing.

VERDICT: Should have been reported. Requires investigation.

* Evidence of various engine oil leaks, in particular oil leaking from turbo and air-intake hose on to exhaust system (potential for vehicle fire).

* Also evidence of oil leaks around timing chain cover and air intake hose at throttle motor.

VERDICT: These should have been reported

* Leak off turbo and air intake - re-check needed soon and further investigation needed soon.

* Evidence of gearbox oil leak from top of gearbox.

VERDICT: Should have been reported.

* Gearbox filler plug loose but the leak appears to be higher than the filler plug.

VERDICT: Requires investigation.

* Rear brake pads (inner) low and due replacement soon approx 4,000km-5,000km

* Front brake discs have large lip (2mm). Due replacement at next brake-pad change.

The following day, the Fairview garage provided an additional detailed estimate of what the outstanding work would cost and the priority in which it should be carried out.

Outstanding repairs would come to more than €2,000 - a sum which could have been spread across the life of the car to date had previous inspections during maintenance at several outlets been as thorough.

Finally, it was nice to have the car returned after it had been given a complimentary mini valet.

Indo Motoring

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