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(From left) Raymond Kirk, a mechanic at Auto Advantage, and Les Kirk, owner of Auto Advantage, receive their five-star grading certificate from the Director of MIWA, Vishal Premlall.

(From left) Raymond Kirk, a mechanic at Auto Advantage, and Les Kirk, owner of Auto Advantage, receive their five-star grading certificate from the Director of MIWA, Vishal Premlall.

Independent workshop steps in to assist disgruntled dealership customer

In the space of a few weeks, a car owner was disappointed twice by the service he received from two different dealerships.

The car owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) took his wife’s vehicle to the dealership to repair a blown turbo. “I received a quote for R85 000 from the dealership. I was advised to take the car to Auto Advantage in Strijdom Park and received not only a repaired turbo but new brakes and a full service for R28 000. They also repaired a dent in the bumper free of charge,” he says.

The same customer also had a luxury car that had been standing at a workshop for several weeks. “The dealership quoted me R120 000 stating that a diagnostic cost was R20 000 and replacing the engine would cost R100 000.00. Just before I was about to trade the vehicle in for a fraction of what it was worth, I contacted Auto Advantage to see if they could take a look.”

The independent workshop towed the vehicle from the dealership to its premises. Les Kirk, the owner of Auto Advantage, says when the vehicle arrived and was started it was immediately clear that there was no compression, the engine was turning too fast. “We removed the plugs and found an issue with the oil – a common problem if this type of vehicle has been left standing for a while. This was the case as the customer had been away on holiday. It really is a problem that the dealership should have been well aware of and checked for. There was no need to strip the car and replace the engine. It merely needed oil and new plugs,” he says.

Along with servicing the brakes, the vehicle was repaired for R10 000. “A massive difference in price to what was quoted by the dealer,” says the car owner. “This was a real lesson on how we trust that dealerships are offering the best possible option at the best price. This is not always the case, especially if a vehicle is older and out of warranty. I have definitely become sceptical of dealerships.”

Les Mc Master, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says this is a great case in point of the importance of knowing that there is an alternative to dealerships when it comes to repairs. “We have thousands of independent workshops around the country that are highly capable of repairing all vehicle models using quality parts at affordable rates. The key, we believe, is using an accredited workshop. Auto Advantage is a five-star MIWA graded workshop and has proved to this customer that its workmanship and costing is highly competitive,” he says.

Mc Master believes that often vehicle owners that are out of warranty keep returning to a dealership for vehicle servicing out of habit. “The reality is that more often than not an independent workshop can service your car at a much more affordable rate than a dealer can. There are less overheads bumping up the price. Another case in point is that consumers can be easily mislead into trading in a good quality vehicle for far less that it’s worth as a result of an incorrect diagnosis. As in this case, the customer was about to trade in his vehicle for R10 000 but instead paid R10 000 for repairs and his vehicle is now in a good working condition. ”

“The idea that independent mechanics are inferior to those at dealerships is unfounded. It is an old-fashioned perception far from today’s reality where independent workshops are equipped with the latest technology and equipment and complete the highest training possible. Our graded workshops are very often on par, if not ahead, of franchise dealerships when it comes to technical expertise. Consumers are feeling the strain of price hikes and while servicing a vehicle may be a grudge purchase it does not have to be a financially crippling one,” he concludes.

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