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I’ve fixed thousands of cars

Jun 18, 2023Jun 18, 2023

HAVE you ever visited your mechanic only to be left feeling confused, ill-informed, and out of pocket?

While most are truthful and try to be as sincere as possible, a few rogue ones have left us feeling sceptical.

For example, did you know there’s an extremely important component of your engine that if not changed could cost you thousands of pounds?

Or are you aware that you may not be getting your money’s worth if you visit a main car dealership for your MOT test?

With over 40 years of experience as a mechanic, Ian Neary, who owns Goodman Autos in Hertfordshire, helps to break down some of the little-known ways some mechanics are able to rip us off.

Timing belts play an important role in ensuring your car runs as smoothly as possible. According to the AA: “It controls the internal combustion engines.

“It controls the timing and sequence of when the valves to the cylinders open and close. It does this by making sure the crankshaft and the camshaft are rotating in sync.”

Ian adds: “To explain it simply, think of it as an elastic band. An elastic band will stretch over the years so it deteriorates.

“We advise before we service the cars that the timing belt is critical. It’s going to cost you a lot more money - a service can be delayed for a later date.”

But he says it is another aspect of cars that regularly gets glossed over by several garages.

He continues: “Many mechanics won’t advise their customers that the belt needs changing. When they come in here, I ask them, 'Have you had your timing belt changed'?

“If you haven’t, leave servicing alone to a later date because the timing belt runs the whole engine. A lot of garages would rather see the timing belt go and the customer will spend thousands of pounds to do a repair job.”

If you have ever been left coughing up a storm as your car sits among other vehicles, you may want to get your pollen filter checked.

It is a key component of cars and helps clean the air that comes into your motor. It filters out pollen, dust, dirt, and exhaust fumes that may enter the cabin of your car.

However, according to Ian, many mechanics ignore this and never mention it to their customers when servicing their cars.

He says: “A good 80 per cent of dealers and garages do not change it. It is one of the biggest problems.”

He continues: "They don't do it because they need to get the car off that ramp. A lot of garages will say they have changed it when they haven't.

"I have photographic proof of them but I won't mention any names."

“There is no way you can spot that you’re being overcharged unless you go to another garage,” Ian says.

“I’ve seen so many cases where people have gone to main dealers and come back with huge quotes.

“I’ve got a lovely customer who has been going to their main dealer. They got the hump, came to me, and they were much happier.

“I had a customer come in from another garage. He had been quoted £400. He came here and got it done for £160. The customer is happy and I’m happy I’ve served them right.

“You can only spot these problems when you go to a good garage, get the car stripped with the components taken out.

“Then you see the state of them. The problem with main dealers is when they do a service, they’re only changing the oil and filter. They’re not doing a full service.

“And that’s not fair to the customer who thinks they are paying for a full service. I’ve just had three people in and they were fuming. It’s always better to go to a mechanic who has been around a long time with old-school people. And there’s not many about.”

Although Ian believes that mechanics must handle most faults, he believes they sometimes take advantage of customers not knowing the basics of car maintenance.

Recent studies have shown a huge percentage of car owners have no clue about the basics of car care such as checking the bonnet or changing the oil.

He explains: “Back in the 60s and 70s we used to open the bonnet, check on the oil and water, and make sure everything works. Nobody lifts the bonnet on a regular basis anymore.

"A lot of time it comes to maintenance because people don’t understand the mechanicals of the vehicles nowadays. Nobody knows how to change a tyre and nobody knows how to fill the car with coolant.

"I see cars that are leaking with oil, tyres that are gone, and things like wiper blades that don’t clean the screen properly - that’s another failure. It’s about safety for people and other road users.

"They only worry about it when the engine hazard is on and they panic. They rely on lights and not the practical terms of taking the time to check.”

Engine oil helps to lubricate the moving components of a car. When there's adequate engine oil, all the parts move successfully without "generating dangerous levels of friction", according to the RAC.

As important as it is, Ian believes many garages have the tendency often put the wrong engine oil in vehicles - which can not only lead to failed MOTs, but thousands of pounds of damage.

He says: "I have caught about ten different garages out already for putting the wrong engine oil into transit vans.

"Garages are blatantly putting engine oils that are not compatible with certain vehicles and they are not owning up to the problems with these cars.

"I found out the reason the cars had issues because I had to prove it to garages and other customers. It can ruin the car and cost the customer so much money. The garage owner is not going to do anything about it."

He believes it's always best to know the oil your car requires and to make sure it's the right one being out in your motor.

HAVE you ever visited your mechanic only to be left feeling confused, ill-informed, and out of pocket?