Would you let a hairdresser fix your car?
By Pam Manwaring, owner of Orchard Garage, Dartford
So, would you let a hairdresser fix your car? No, of course you wouldn’t! But have you ever driven into a garage and just handed over the keys to your vehicle, without first checking that the person you’re trusting it to knows what they’re doing? I thought you might have…
Most of us take it for granted that before technicians are let loose on a car, they have been on dozens of courses and have all sorts of qualifications. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Garage owners can employ anyone they like and believe me, I’ve seen some toe-curling consequences over the years.
The truth is that the only experience your ‘mechanic’ might have had with cars is building model ones. They probably sound as if they know what they’re talking about, and have watched a lot of Top Gear, but that doesn’t make them qualified to work on your state-of-the-art vehicle.
Anyone can open a garage or call themselves a mechanic.
Shockingly, there’s nothing to stop a builder, a window cleaner, or even your senile aunt Susan from waking up one morning and deciding to open his or her own workshop. There is no legislation against buying a few tools, putting up a snazzy sign, and touting for business.
The industry isn’t regulated, so unless a garage self-regulates (like we do), there are no checks to make sure work has been done correctly. Belonging to one of the Trade organisations (Good Garage Scheme, RMI, AA) or a recognised consumer body (Which, Check-a-Trade) means at least the business is trading legally and professionally, but the actual physical work isn’t checked. Taking your vehicle to an MOT testing station can bring further peace of mind, as DVSA does check the standard of work produced and visits stations unannounced to make sure their high standards are maintained.
How do you make sure your mechanic is a professional - someone who knows how to get your vehicle running like new again?
- Ask around, though it’s not a fool-proof method. Well-meaning people will often give you the names and numbers of neighbours or friends. So always ask if they’ve actually had some work done at the place they’re recommending; whether they were satisfied, and what the customer service was like.
- Internet recommendations, e.g. trustedtraders.which.co.uk, goodgaragescheme.com, Google. These shouldn’t be relied upon totally, but they can give you a general idea - if there are 10 reviews left for a garage and nine of them are dreadful, then you might want to steer well clear.
- Go into the garage, have a chat and a look around. Are they professional and friendly? Is the garage busy and does it look well-equipped? Can they offer you free advice and a detailed quote?
- Most Importantly.. Do they have certificates and qualifications on display, or can they show them to you? Don’t be shy, ask about their experience, and whether they’ve worked on your make and model of car before.
Here at Orchard Garage, all our mechanics are well-trained and knowledgeable and we keep up to date with our skills too, by regular training.
We’re a well-established, family-run garage and will only take on a job if we are fully confident that we can do it for you.
You can find reviews on us and other Dartford garages on many established sites, including these: www.goodgaragescheme.com, www.trustedtraders.which.co.uk, Google. You can also find us regularly within our local community magazine, Dartford Living.