Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Richard Hall
Loved the latest addition to the site. Until recently we had a Vauxhall Omega V6 automatic on our company car fleet. I borrowed it to nip home at lunchtime - on the way back it lost power and the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree with warning lights and messages. In to the Vauxhall main agent, who diagnosed a faulty automatic transmission, which they would be happy to replace for £1300 plus labour.

I got our fleet manager to ring an independent transmission specialist, and we got the repair price down to £125 all in - a failed temperature sensor within the transmission. Apparently quite a common problem on Omegas - ours was the third one they'd had in that week.

Personally I avoid garages for anything other than MoTs and tyre changes. The idea that modern cars are too complex for DIY is a myth - I run an Audi Coupe 20V, and managed to diagnose and fix an engine management system fault, using a fault code reader that I built for 50 pence from instructions on the Internet. Problem was a faulty knock sensor (£60), but you can bet that if I had taken it to a garage, I would have ended up paying £600 plus for a new ECU.
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - bob the builder
and the addition to the site pretty much explains why i loathe taking my car for a service.

washer fluid - been charged for that, and it ran out within days, i.e. they hadn't done a thing.

wipers - they were changed, and why i don't know.

oil filter - i've always wondered that.

fault diagnosis - some of the things i've heard suggested are laughable. do garages honestly think the average bod is that dumb?

tyres worn out - told them they weren't and did another 6000 miles before changing, and still the wear markers were untouched.

labour charges - if the rate is low they take longer to be sure the same overall charge as a garage with a higher rate, thus no saving.
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Cockle
Couldn't agree more.
Six years back bought my brother's ex-company Cavalier. 500 miles before I took delivery it had supposedly had a major service, the full history that came with it listed just about everything but the kitchen sink on the final service along with an invoice just below £500. Obviously didn't worry my brother, all he had to do was sign the sheet & he thought he was doing me a favour getting everything put to rights.
When I came round to the next 6K service, well....... I don't think they'd spent 500 pence. Judging from subsequent services the filters had definitely not been changed, nor the brake pads and I don't think the rear drums had been off since the factory.
Amazingly though they were all on the invoice.....
And some people think I'm a bit of a cynic!

Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Bob Harris
'Which' and the AA have both tested garages and found faults missed and unnecessary replacements/repairs suggested.

Many of the scams on servicing suggested by HJ, e.g. oil filter cleaned with rag and a new one charged for, are plain fraud. It would be easy for AA, Which or trading standard officers to mark such a filter and bring a private prosecution against firm. Even if they got away with it on grounds of oversight, rogue mechanic etc the publicity would be damaging. If garage was a main dealer the manufacturer might take some sanctions.
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Andrew Hamilton
I always get the same garage, who mainly do MOTs, to test mine and my relatives vehicles. They know now any faults they spot will be repaired by me or another garage. So there nothing in it for them to find work. I also wait for the test to be done which prevents a minor fault such as blown bulb being invented.
Before I cottened onto the fiddles over the years, I used to get caught with headlight needing adjustment, wiper motor faulty, headlight switch failed!
Although the forty minutes waiting for the MOT tester to get on and finish your car is boring it has saved me money.
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Dave Etchells
My local Ford dealer pulled the wiper scam on my wifes Fiesta and suggested the front brake pads be replaced - after 8000 miles. Told them politely where to go and never went back. Got another 18 months and 6000 miles out of the pads and the wipers are still going strong.

I think a mention for the Lex group of garages is worthwhile. I have used them for over twelve years on the majority of occasions and they are excellent. I do get discounts via work but they still work out cheap and they will give you the replaced parts if you really do not trust them. I use the Old Trafford based branch and simply cannot fault them.

Talking of DIY, this is going back about 6 years but it underlines how cheap they can be. My wife's car at the time was a Talbot Samba (erk!) and a service and MOT worked out at £55, I didn't bother checking but I am certain that after deducting the cost of the MOT, I would not have saved much money buying the parts and doing it myself.

Try them, the only caveat is they are too liberal with grease on hinges, etc.
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Andrew Hamilton
I DIY what I can and if I cannot, tell the garage exactly what I want done. They are focussed on specific items rather than doing a general service which might not do things you expect to be done.
My neighbour could not start. I found the battery level so low as the garage, who did all the servicing, never topped up all those years. Unbelievably the owner, female, was going to that garage for to put in a new battery even though the battery just needed topping up! (She would not top it up but allowed me to jumpstart her car from another battery)
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Dave Y
Agree with Dave Etchells about Lex garages. I too have found them good value, polite, co-operative and they don't seem to go in for rip-offs
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Sandy
Being an ancient cynic, I wonder if some keep a stock of used bits for the minority who ask to see them?

I do have to say, I think Struan of Perth, and now Dundee, are absolutely straight about my likewise ancient Toyota, even when there is less than 1,000 miles in the 6 months!

73 de Sandy
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - Ben Chapman
I am convinced some garages do keep worn out bits to show customers. When my parents last took their Volvo 850 T5 to templars in Orpington i wish i had been there. The bloke basically insulted my dad, who was too polite to explain what he was saying was complete rubbish. For example, when he asked why they had fitted a new radiator cap, the guy dissapeared and produced a cap that looked as though it had been snapped in half. Further more, it wasnt even the same type of cap that was fitted to the car on delivery to the garage.
They had been asked to change the automatic transmission fluid, which they tried to do. I dont think they drained all the oil out as the fluid still didnt look clean to me. However, they still decided to put the specified capacity back in the gearbox. The oil level was nearly on the minimum for hot when the car had been left on the drive over night.
There best trick was to fill the car with engine oil (which my dad supplied otherwise they fill the car with cheap mineral-base 15W-40 oil!) just below the minimum mark. When my parents returned to ask why the engine oil level was so low, they were told the car had a serious leak between the engine and gearbox which would cost £500 to repair. Needless to say, no repair has been made and the car still does not leak oil 18 months later.
They were asked to change the cam-belt, but insisted it wasnt need (the car is a 94L). The car sounds really tappety, so my dad, with a wry smile on his face, asked them if changing the cam chain between the camshafts would cure the noise. He was told the engine was meant to sound like that, and the cam chain was in perfect condiiton. I dont belive the engine has a cam chain at all!
I could go and on, but the moral of the story is aviod Templars of Orpington, and if you go to a main dealer, check the work has been done and is satisfactory. If not go back and make a fuss when they have plenty of people in the show room.

Some more dealer tales. - Dave
There was a thread of dealer stories a few weeks ago.

Dad took a company car in for it's service last Friday. Major cam belt change.

Come back in half an hour he was told. He asked if 30 mins would be really enough to change a cam belt. Doesn't need one was the response. Well at 66k it should do. No these go to 80k.

There was a dispute about whether or not it was needed. (Christ knows why - my dad doesn't care if the car blows up or not - he was more worried about coming back to early and wasting his time...)

Anyway 'Pater' was correct. You can learn more by reading a page of your service manual that a main dealer bothers to learn in a career. (usual caveat - the guys on this site know their stuff and have proven it time and time again.)

This reminds me of a tale that didn't go in the dealer rip off section.

Red Cavalier in the 80's. Brand new. 1000 mile service. Go's in for service in mid winter. They replace coolant with a substance that wasn't anti freeze but would be very familiar to fish. (as far as I know there was no reason to do this!) Sub zero temperatures. You can guess the rest. Sadly it overheated at a point where it couln't be pulled over (in front of a queue of traffic in a trench of snow cleared by a plough with 4 foot snow drifts either side). The engine fatally expired just as it could be pulled over.

Again company car so young father didn't care. However as a private owner he'd have been livid...
Re: Dishonest John's Guide - all true - honest john
Everyone following this thread might like to take a look at the News Item: 'SMMT Calls for Trade Licences'.

Displaced Parts Debate - David Lacey
We retain all displaced parts for customer inspection, if the need arises.
We find it useful when explaining the invoice to show the actual parts (and Yes, they are the 'actual' parts)

I have had no customers ask for their displaced parts to be kept back for them, but if the need did arise, they could have their parts back.
Labelled bags are issued along with the parts when they are issued from the parts dept and retained for 14 days.


Where do you work David? - Ben Chapman
Where do you work David? - David Lacey
.........Somewhere in Devon, Ben.
HJ's Guide is not always true! - John Slaughter
Guys, hate to spoil the party, but there are some straight garages out there. My Company Vectra always went to Skurrays in Swindon. Despite being a company car and therefore one would think a target for such scams, it never happened. Wipers etc were only changed when I asked, and I checked that oil and ait filters etc had been replaced - they had. No 'strange' replacement were ever suggested. It didn't need, nor did they suggest, brakes depite its total in my hands of nearly 80k. So, don't get too paranoid!


Re: HJ's Guide is not always true! - Martyn
This would be the same Skurrays of Swindon who returned my Cavalier from service with only 1 litre of oil? 13 years on I still won't buy a Vauxhall again.

Value my car