There are three times more clients buying a used car than a new one. And, when it comes to a mechanical check-up, the second group will always opt for an authorized service. Then, when the car is not under warranty anymore, the customer is likely to avoid the brand garage, opting for an independent one instead, where costs are visibly lower. Thus, if an authorized garage will charge between 500 lei and 1,500 lei for a check-up, an independent one will perform the same job for half this amount, depending on the vehicle in question.
A brand garage will guarantee a complete car diagnose: beside replacing the consumables, the auto-mechanic will thoroughly check the engine and the gearbox, the antifreeze and brake fluid level, the car battery, the screen wipers, the brake pads, the air conditioning, etc.
When it comes to most used cars owners, they usually settle for the oil change and the replacement of air and oil filters – which means their car is left with tens of other possible troubles. Furthermore, the respective driver can find out that his just-checked-up car is leaking oil or that, in fact, the filters weren't changed at all. While independent garages' claim is they offer the same services as the authorized ones, in truth, they do not afford the same enginery, the same quality car parts or the newest software available.
"The corner garage will offer a cheaper labour hour, but it cannot guarantee the repair will last the fair amount of time or that, for that matter, that the garage itself will still be there tomorrow. The mechanics here will not have special testers and tools available and they will not be aware of the manufacturer standards. The Toyota mechanics will know every Toyota car by heart, because they only fix Toyota cars. Therefore, there is a very slim chance they will make any blunder or that there will be any delays. An authorized garage guarantees the quality of the repairing and of the parts replaced and always respects the standards set by the manufacturer today or in ten years time, because this is a sustainable, long-term business", says Radu Petrescu, After Sales manager, Toyota Romania.
"A dealer can offer the client a courtesy car while his is getting fixed, and an extended guarantee not only for the manual labour, but also for the parts acquired, which will always meet the legal norms and the certificates of conformity, while the mechanics will be qualified according to the manufacturer standards", adds Victor Carp, manager, After Sales Tiriac Auto.
BMW, a very popular brand on the Romanian market, requires that each worker attend a minimum-four-day technical training a year. Some of these courses take place at the headquarters in Munich, thus offering the participants direct access to the newest information available.
According to Constantin Vasilescu, After Sales Area Manager, BMW Group Romania, "modern cars are more and more complex, they need tailored electronic diagnoses that the universal tester used at the corner garage will not be able to perform. There is no doubt that only a brand tester will identify the entire array of problems”.
Similarly, Volkswagen group also offers each employee a regular training program.
I’ll bring my own. Or…?
There are some clients who, in order to lower their bill, would rather buy their own car parts. Most of the garages allow this procedure, but consider it unadvisable. "It is essential to use specialized, tailored equipment. When it comes to safety and the quality of the repairing, even the smallest details can make the difference. Besides, the original parts are conceived and later checked according to impact testing. Hence, all the cheaper solutions on the market may end up putting at risk the safety of passengers“, Constantin Vasilescu warns.
Tiriac Auto allows its customers to come with their own parts but it does not guarantee for their quality, unless they are acquired from the dealer. For Radu Petrescu (Toyota), repairing a car doesn't come down to replacing the broken parts. Instead, it implies a thorough, complex diagnosis according to which the mechanic will decide which parts really need to be changed. An original gear will endure as long as the first one, as long as the related parts operate under normal parameters.
Car aficionados can always perform some of the simpler operations on their own, such as replacing a headlight, an induction coil or a screen wiper. For example, it only takes a minute to replace the headlight of a Volkswagen Golf, but any garage, be it authorized or independent, will charge for the procedure. In the meantime, in order to replace a headlight on a Renault Megane, one needs to dismantle a wheel. Changing an induction coil is much more at hand – one only needs to loosen a screw. Still, a garage would charge 400 lei for this procedure, given that an original coil costs 150 lei. While it looks pretty simple, changing tires can prove quite complicated. This is why this procedure will cost something like 60 lei at the corner garage and a few million lei in an authorized workshop. Petrescu remembers how “I myself have seen once how a muscular guy broke a wheel stud by screwing it too tight. Even these studs have to be managed in a certain way, established by the manufacturer”. In other words, when it comes to replacing system parts such as breaks, airbags, safety belts, board computer or cooling, one would rather leave it to those who really know their business.
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