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Essential Tips When Visiting a Garage for Car Repairs

If your car is in need of an essential service, MOT or it simply needs a repair, then you’ll need to take a trip to your local car garage. However, navigating through the world of mechanics for those with little knowledge can be difficult, many individuals fear that they are being overcharged or being made to fix additional parts which don’t necessarily need replacing.

To minimise your chances of receiving bad service, carry on reading to learn our top tips for successfully repairing your car.

Common car repairs and how to spot them

It’s very likely that apart from MOT’s and services which are required by law, every driver will need to visit a car garage for an additional repair. However, if you can spot the signs of a problem early then you’ll be ahead of the game and able to fix the issue as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

New tyres: how quickly your tyres wear down can depend on how much you drive and how hard you brake when driving.The minimum legal tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm, beyond this you are putting yourself in danger and breaking the law. To test whether your tyres need replacing this can be done via the 20p test. Simply take a twenty pence coin and place it into the grooves of the tyre, if the outer border of the coin is visible above the top of the groove then this may be an indication that your tread is too low.

You can also assess the condition of your tyres by looking them over for obvious wear and tear, additionally, if you’ve noticed that you need to pump them up more regularly this may be a sign of a slow puncture. Also be sure to research tyres prices, may garages overcharge on this so look out for discount tyres in alternative garages.

Fixing the brakes: ignoring any warning signs related to your brakes is dangerous; as an essential part of your car it’s not worth putting yours, your passengers or other driver’s safety at risk. You may notice that your brake light stays lit on your dashboard which is often a sign they aren’t working as they should, however, the most common way of identifying a problem is how your brakes feel and sound. You may start to hear a squeaking or grinding noise which could mean that your brake pads are worn down. Other than this your brakes may feel spongy, wobbly or begin to vibrate when driving.

Replacing the battery: winter is usually the most common time that car batteries need replacing; engine oil can get thicker in cold temperatures which increases the demand on the battery. If you’re unfortunate enough to have left your car lights on leaving you unable to start your car, then your battery may be dead. Try and jumpstart your car and if the battery can no longer be charged then it’s time for a new one. Other signs that your battery is dying include a slow starting engine, bad smells or an engine light on your dashboard.

Changing the oil: engine oil is essential for making sure your car runs smoothly, it lubricates parts and keeps your engine healthy. Don’t leave long periods between changing your car’s oil, many people use their mileage as an indicator but this is unreliable. Your car will start to show warning signs such as a louder engine, exhaust smoke and dark dirty oil which can be seen on the dipstick when removed from the oil tank.

Aligning the wheels: it may be time for a wheel alignment if you’ve noticed that your car is pulling to one side. If your vehicle is doing so then this is clearly a safety risk, but it can also lead to uneven tyre wear which is an additional cost. 

Replacing windscreen wipers: if your wipers are no longer able to clear your windows effectively then they need replacing, this should be a cheap and easy procedure. Key signs include cracks and splits in the rubber and a squeaking sounds when in use; this usually means that they are being dragged across the glass instead of smoothly gliding over.

What to expect in a full car service

Many people believe that an MOT and car service are the same thing, however they both perform different functions. An MOT will assess the essential technical parts of your car whereas a service will look for wear and tear, replace parts and change fluid. It’s recommended that you have a full car service every 12 months or 12,000 miles, doing so is another step in ensuring your car is roadworthy and will prevent you from having a hefty bill due to a build up of problems. Car service cost will depend on the make, model and engine size of your vehicle, for example, a car that requires potentially specialist parts may cost more.

If you’re living in the St Albans and in need of a car service, then St Albans Car Clinic is the trusted car garage that will ensure your car is running as it should. Through our easy to use website you can receive an instant service quote just by entering your vehicle registration.

A full car service may cover the following areas: 

  •       Road tests
  •       Engine
  •       Fuel
  •       Electrical
  •       Exhaust
  •       Steering
  •       Brakes
  •       Tyres
  •       Internal
  •       Vision

How much will your MOT cost?

According to government guidelines, the maximum fee for a car MOT is currently £54.85, however similar to a car service, your MOT quote will depend on several factors such as the make, model and engine size of your vehicle. 

If a car is purchased with no prior use on the road then an MOT is required within three years of its manufacture date. After this you must book an MOT every year, this is a legal requirement and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to £1,000 if you are caught driving the vehicle without an up to date MOT. Most garages will be able to complete an MOT test, however to be sure, simply look out for the blue three triangles symbol which all garages have to display. This indicates that the location is an approved MOT test station where you can book an MOT test.

Key questions to ask

Once you’ve shortlisted a couple of garages to receive a quote, you need to make sure that you’ve done your research beforehand. If you show that you’re invested in your car repair then this may be a deterrent for rogue mechanics, those that accept and repair work without query.

To avoid being victim to unnecessary costs, here are some important questions that you can ask to gauge which garage is the right one to complete the work.

  •       Have you worked on my make and model of car before?
  •       What are your qualifications?
  •       Can you recommend a maintenance plan?
  •       Do you offer a warranty on the repair? 
  •       Can I have a written quote?

How to choose the right car garage

Choosing the right car garage will determine the quality of work that you receive- it can be tempting to pick the first garage you find but this may do more harm than good. Instead some simple research can be conducted over a day or two to help you make an informed decision about which garage to use.

Ask for recommendations: the best way to be sure that you’re choosing the right garage is to go off recommendations from your friends and family; this way you can get an idea of price and customer service.

Check their services: be sure to check their website or ring up to make sure they can complete the type of repair that you need -visiting a garage that can’t help will only waste your time.

Check prices beforehand: if their website includes a price list, or you received a quote over the phone then make a note of this and double check, doing so will avoid any disputes about the agreed price once the work is complete.

St Albans Car Clinic: professional car servicing and maintenance in St Albans

With a modern and fully equipped car garage, St Albans Car Clinic is the place to go for comprehensive repair, servicing and MOT testing. If you’ve noticed that your car is functioning as it should but you can’t identify the problem, our team will use the latest diagnostic tools to quickly identify the fault to get you back on the road safely. For more information get in touch today.

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