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Car repairs: how to avoid being ripped off

Getting your car serviced can be a tricky business. So read our checklist for things you should watch out for.

Getting your car serviced can be a tricky business. So read our checklist for things you should watch out for.

Published Mar 4, 2016

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Johannesburg - Servicing your vehicle, especially a vehicle which is out of its warranty period, can be a daunting experience.

While there are many reliable and reputable operators on the market, there are also those who take advantage of a lack of knowledge of modern vehicles, in order to fleece consumers.

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One indication of how bad this problem is, is the fact that the Motor Industry Ombudsman (MIOSA) handles more than 4000 calls a month. Any disputes relating to work done on your vehicle can be forwarded to this body for dispute resolution, but it can be avoided with a little forward thinking.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

According to the Automobile Association (AA) it is important to do your homework before selecting a technician.

“Word of mouth is a good way of determining who the good mechanics in your area are. But, as a responsible owner, you should also be visiting workshops, and speaking to the mechanics to get a feel for how they operate and what their hourly rate for labour is,” the AA says.

GET A WORK LIST

Once you have decided on a workshop, it’s important to get a detailed list of the work that the mechanic plans to do and the projected costs and timeframes. Again, do your homework and research the cost price of spares that may be needed. Remember, though, that workshops will add a mark-up to the parts and will charge for labour.

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AGREE ON TIMELINE

Agree on a timelin e for the completion of the work, and on the costs involved, prior to any work commencing. Don’t allow a repair to drag on. If work has not been completed within the set timeframe, contact the workshop and get answers.

ASSESS RISKS

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Clarify if there are any other risks the mechanic identifies prior to the work being started, or if there are any potential problems that may arise from the initial work being done.

DETAILED QUOTE

Ensure you get a detailed written quote from the workshop before any work starts. This means you and the workshop both agree on the work to be done.

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HIGHLIGHT KEY PROBLEMS

Clarify with the workshop if the specific repairs/servicing will fix the problems you have highlighted; remember that diagnostic repairs can be expensive.

SHOP AROUND

Remember that cheapest is not best. If you are unsure of a quote because it is too high, get a second quote, or cost the parts yourself through a parts dealer.

INSPECT WORK DONE

When your car is ready for collection, inspect the engine for signs that the work has been done.

“It may not always be possible to see what was done, but you may, for instance, be able to see that a new fan belt has been fitted because it will look new and have easily identifiable numbers on it. If you are unsure of what was done, ask the mechanic to go through it in detail with you,” says the AA.

KEEP TRACK OF REPAIR

Keep track of your repair and service history, to protect you in future and to assist your mechanic with his diagnostic process.

If you have your vehicle serviced by a workshop that forms part of a group, you can escalate your complaints to a higher authority.

LET THE AA HELP SEARCH

The AA also offers a Quality Assured (AAQA) service to help drivers find reputable workshops.

“Our team of quality assurance personnel scout the country for prospective partners across a wide range of services to ensure that motoring needs of our Members (and non-Members) are catered for,” says the AA.

To qualify as an AAQA partner, the facility must pass an audit by the AA to ensure the services are up to standard. Regular reviews are also conducted to guarantee that the stringent quality assurance requirements are maintained.

For more information on the AAQA’s services visit www.aa.co.za .

For more information on the Motor Industry Ombudsman, please visit www.miosa.co.za .

Star Motoring

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