Smart Consumer: Get me a mechanic! How to get your car the best service
The next time you get your car serviced, what will you be thinking about? Will cost be the first thing on your mind? Or what about the garage's reputation and skill of the mechanic?
Cost is definitely a factor, with two-thirds of us now putting the car service on the long finger, even though we all know that a really banjaxed car will cost us more in repairs than regular servicing will.
But even when you're forking out for a service, you have to be careful. Gerry Caffrey, President of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), says: "There has been a big increase in untrained and illegal operators at the fringes of our industry offering to service cars.
"While it may seem like a bargain at the time," he continues, "often the work carried out by such operators is to a poor standard."
One thing you could look out for is the new SIMI APR (Autosure Professional Register) logo. This recently launched logo should act as a stamp of quality, essentially letting you know that the highest possible standards are in place.
In addition you'll have the back up of SIMI's complaints service should something go wrong.
What else should you double-check before getting your car serviced?
• Choose your garage or mechanic based on reputation or a strong recommendation from someone you trust. Beware of any business or individual that deals in cash only and won't issue receipts.
• Be cautious about getting a car repaired by traders who have no premises or trading address and always ask if the work will be covered by a written guarantee.
• Before signing up for a set price deal or agree to a service, check what is included in the advertised or agreed price and what is not.
• Ask the mechanic to call you if any other problem arises so that you can agree to any extra work and approve any charge.
• It is illegal for a trader to claim work needs to be carried out when in fact it doesn't. Make sure you are clear in instructing your mechanic not to do any additional work on the car without consulting you -- and don't be afraid to get a second opinion if you think some work may be unnecessary or if the price quoted strikes you as high.
• Remember, if you're paying, you are free to get your car serviced where you want and this cannot affect your warranty. So shop around for the best price and service.