DRIVING home for Christmas has been stressful enough this year but what happens if your car is not up to scratch – literally?
A faulty battery or burst tyre will stop you in your tracks. Before you drive yourself around the bend looking for a reputable car mechanic, we speak to one man in the know.
Jason McManus, who runs his own business https://mouths-motor-company-ltd.business.site/ has over 20 years of experience in the automotive repair industry.
As one of the top rated members of ClickMechanic – the UK's market leading platform that connects car owners who need repairs, to the UK's best mechanics – he has some tips when it comes to finding a reputable mechanic.
Review the reviews
Jason's first tip before you use any mechanic is to see what other people are saying about them.
You can glean a lot from looking at reviews – although some need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
He says: “I would first suggest looking at the reviews people have left for a mechanic or garage – reviews speak volumes to me."
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But don't just take all the comments at face value.
Jason say: "Personally, once I have read a few, I try to look at random into other reviews, not necessarily in order to get a good mix.”
Get a quote
As with so many things in life, it's unlikely you're going to get the best deal if you accept the first offer.
Get a few quotes from different places and check online at sites such as ClickMechanic to get an idea of what a fair price is.
Jason says: "Make sure you get a fully inclusive price too – some might seem cheaper because they don't include VAT – and be sure you're comparing like-for-like.
"We've all been there – you get a quote and then there are added extras."
If your mechanic has put new parts in, ask to see the replacements and the old parts – Jason says if you're being charged for something, you should be able to see it.
Be on your watch
They say time is money, and when it comes to your car it can really cost you.
Jason's top tip is not to let the garage know that you're in a rush.
"Don't let them take advantage of your time constraints.
"'If the mechanic knows you're in a rush when asking for a price, they might think that adding an extra £10, £20 or even £50 won't be an issue as you need it," he says.
Honesty is the best policy
Jason says you should be wary of any mechanic who isn't being completely transparent.
Any car expert should be willing to explain what work has been done on your car and show you it.
"I often even photograph or video the work or anything that needs to be done so the customer can see it," he says.
And if you've got new parts – you're entitled to keep the old ones, so do ask and the mechanic shouldn't refuse.
If in doubt, Jason says it's best to trust your instincts.
Don't be sold on deals
Most people like the feeling of getting a bargain, but you should never feel pressured into a purchase.
If you're given a time limit on a deal or offered something that seems too good to be true – stop and think.
The same as when you're hunting for Boxing Day or Black Friday deals, it's only a bargain if you needed it anyway and if the price reduction is genuine.
Research by Which? recently found that as many as nine out of 10 Black Friday bargains were actually the same price or more expensive than they'd been in the previous weeks.
"Deals can be tricky," says Jason. "But if something seems too good to be true, it normally is.
"A percentage off sticker often only indicates that the price was inflated in the first place."
Of course, the best thing for any motorist is not to breakdown in the first place.
There are some simple winter checks that every driver should do, and these will cut your chances of breaking down.
But, if the worst does happen – you might be interested to know whether you are legally required to have breakdown cover.
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