Sunday, May 20, 2012

Car care: choosing a good workshop

[Article copyright by Ewe Paik Leong]

Just as there are crooks in every profession, the motor-repair trade has its own flimflam men. Motor repair fraud can take many forms. Examples include inflating the prices of parts, exaggerating the fault of an engine’s part, using second-hand parts but charging for new-part prices and blatant charging for parts not replaced. Trust and good communication are essentials for getting the best service from a workshop. Tips for finding a good workshop include:

1. Before you have any problem with your car, be it a mechanical fault or an accident, start shopping for a repair shop. (By repair shop, I refer broadly to knocking and repainting shops, engine workshops, exhaust specialists, etc).

2. Ask your friends to recommend workshops they have dealt with and are satisfied with their services.

3. Arrange to have alternative transport in advance so that your choice will not be determined solely by convenience of location. Remember: the nearest workshop is not necessarily the best.

4. Choose a work shop that is reasonably neat and organized. Check out the other vehicles left there for repairs. Are they roughly of the same value as your car? Or are they derelicts? Is the shop fitted with modern equipment?

5.Most good repair shops are found in commercial areas or light industrial areas. Be wary of those situated in slums and don’t even have a line phone.

6. Enquire whether the workshop handles your type of repair work. Some repair shops specialize in gear-box, exhaust systems or other areas of work; others go broad-based.

7. Are the staff helpful? Do they ask you to replace a part without even attempting to explain why? Is there any warranty for the part replaced? Are they eager to get you to sign an authorization form giving them permission to do full checkup? Beware: this is often the sign of an auto-repair shark!

8. Can the staff give you a breakdown of the total bill such as cost of labour and parts replaced? Reluctance to do this is a bad sign. Another bad sign is over-eagerness to have you leave your car overnight.
9. If you feel the estimate is too high, check with other shops.

10. Before you pay your bill, make sure, you drive your car around the block. If the problem is not rectified, it is easier to point this out to the workshop at this juncture.

11. If parts have been replaced, make sure that the damaged parts are returned to you even though they are useless.

12. Always read the bill before you pay it. If you’re not clear about any technical terms used, don’t be afraid to ask.

Finally, car repair improves with good communication. Don’t just tell the mechanic that you have, for instance, a brake problem. Be specific. As examples: Is there a noose when you brake? What does it sound like? Where does it seem to come from? Doe the car come to a stop? Has anyone else worked on your brake system lately? Did you perform emergency braking recently?


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