The AA has carried out a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise which showed significant short-comings in the quality of car servicing carried out by garages. The AA had five separate services carried out by five providers in Dublin city. In all cases the cars had been pre-prepared by AA and had minor faults installed – faults that should be picked up in any routine service.
Three of the five garages failed to ask when the timing belt had last been changed. This is very important for the customer because timing belts must be changed at specified intervals or they can fail and cause very expensive damage.
The AA is concerned that in the current climate pressure on margins and pressure on price is leading to garages allowing standards to slip.
“The AA can declare an interest in this because we are now carrying out car servicing ourselves.” Says David Murphy of AA Technical Services. “We now offer servicing to AA customers on a call-out basis at their home address or other convenient location. Nevertheless we were unpleasantly surprised at the findings. Many garages offer a very good quality of service but there is no getting away from the fact that when we carried out this study we found serious, basic and repeated failings. Motoring consumers are entitled to expect better.”
AA Car servicing: info here http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Vehicle-checks/Service-And-Repair.aspx
One garage missed a faulty indicator bulb – again a basic check. Two of the five garages failed to check the tyre pressures and one over-inflated them incorrectly, and in one case the right rear tyre pressure had been reduced to a dangerous 9lbs psi. This was unchecked and the car was returned to the mystery shopper with the same 9lbs pressure in the tyre. Two of the five garages missed a torn windscreen wiper, and in one case the car was returned with a faulty handbrake (too much travel in the lever and not holding the vehicle adequately) uncorrected. Each of these faults would have caused the car to fail the NCT.
Other faults included tyre pressure not being checked and rectified, engine oil being overfilled, brake fluid not rectified or reported as low, tracking mis-alignment not reported, loose mud-flap not fixed and corrosion on battery terminals not cleaned.
The AA selected 5 garages in the Dublin area for the mystery shopping exercise. They included main dealers and approved garages as well as independent repairers, and all of the selected garages made at least some basic errors.
“The AA knows first hand that motorists want quality and reliability from whoever carries out the service on their car. That is the major point raised by our own customers and we have taken hundreds of calls since our own car servicing was launched recently. But from the motorists’ point of view we don’t care who carries out your service, but we do care that it is done properly.”
“The AA calls on garage owners and managers to take heed of this report and look to their own standards.” Says Murphy. “Irish motorists must have confidence that when they pay for work it will be carried out professionally. Basic standards should not be allowed to slip in this way.”
While the AA is at this time keeping the names of the selected garages confidential, all five will be approached by AA and briefed on the report’s findings.
“We don’t want to ‘name and shame’.” Says Murphy. “But we do want lessons to be learned and standards to be improved.”
The five vehicles selected by the AA were: an 04 Opel Zafira, an 01 Skoda Octavia, an 01 Ford Ka, an 03 Suzuki Vitara, and a 00 BMW 320 Coupe. The average price charged for the service was €247. All services were carried out between 5th and 8th October by garages in the Dublin area.
|Garage 1Opel Zafira||Garage 2Skoda Octavia||Garage 3Ford Ka||Garage 4Suzuki Vitara||Garage 5BMW 320 Coupe|
|Were you asked was there any specific problem with the vehicle?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Were you asked when the car’s timing belt was last changed?||Yes||No||n/a(no belt fitted, chain driven)||No||No|
|Were you asked when the car’s spark plugs were last changed & if so whether long-life plugs were fitted if applicable?||No||n/a (Diesel model)||No||No||No|
|Faults spotted?Torn wiper blade||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Faulty indicator bulb||Yes||Yes||Yes||n/a|
|Tyre pressure too low||No||No||No||No||–|
|Clutch pressure plate||n/a||n/a||n/a||Yes||n/a|
|Fuel filter needed||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||Yes|
|Handbrake travel excessive||n/a||No||n/a||n/a||n/a|