How do you know who to trust with your pride and joy? Whether your vehicle is two years old or 52 years old, it is essential to have your car serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule to ensure the engine and parts will perform to their best and, for longer.
Below, we explain the differences between car servicing at a franchised dealership, at an independent garage or by a fast-fit chain?
Choosing a good garage with experienced technicians
First establish what the garage does before choosing a franchised dealer, independent garage or a fast-fit outlet. Take a look at their reviews – on the website and, on social media and, ask family or friends for their suggestions. The best results often come via word of mouth recommendations.
Ask the price for a service
Know the facts about your car when you enquire about a service. Do you require a 12-month service, a major service (every 24 months) or an interim service (a 6-monthly service)?
Make sure you have the details to hand – the make, model, registration and your mileage.
Garages are often flexible and may offer some discount on parts or labour – why not ask? You may save money by using compatible parts and not manufacturers parts.
Main dealer servicing
If your car is relatively new, you might have taken out a service plan with the franchised dealer whose technicians will have been trained to work on those particular models. If you have any problems, they should be able to troubleshoot those quickly and effectively, but on average, the dealership services are more expensive.
Main dealers will adhere to a manufacturers service schedule and only used authorised parts which will ensure your guarantee is valid until the end of its life. You can read more on main-dealer servicing with Car Buyer.
Choosing a reputable independent garage
If you are lucky enough to have a friendly and knowledgeable local garage, you will know that using them for servicing will not invalidate any new vehicle warranty or approved-used warranty. It is therefore well worth the effort of seeking out a well-respected garage.
A professional independent garage will work out considerably cheaper than a franchised dealer, and many will even specialise in certain car brands and models. Car technicians or mechanics, as they were once called, usually acquired their skills with a main dealership, so it is quite likely a busy garage, with a number of highly skilled technicians, will provide an excellent alternative to any franchised dealer.
To maintain warranties, they will usually have to use manufacturers parts, but just ask, as these details will be set out in the car’s service record. They will also stamp your service record and fill in the details to maintain the warranty.
Servicing at fast-fit chains
Fast-fit are, what they say, often turning around servicing very quickly and using their own brands of parts and a fixed menu of costs. Some even offer a monthly payment scheme.
These fitters would, generally, be the ones with less experience and, not all fast-fit outlets, feature the latest fault-finding diagnostic equipment which is essential when repairing and servicing modern cars.