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Getting your car serviced at a well known garage

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A car which is well looked after will cause you less trouble, therefore it is recommended that you take your vehicle for servicing at regular intervals to avoid nasty surprises. However when I bought my car, the previous owner told me that a check up is due in like 4 months (the yearly maintenance) but I was reluctant to take it to the garage so early after purchasing it. I knew I could get away with it because the car was in extremely good condition and the mileage was surprisingly low compared to the age (it was only a couple years old). Eventually, I started feeling the car was not running as smoothly as it was before and decided it was now time to get it serviced, 6 months after the check up was due.

You generally have 2 choices – either you take it to a well known garage which is going to charge you more or let a mechanic who has been recommended by someone do the maintenance for you. Although the latter is the cheaper option, I decided to take it to an approved garage for peace of mind. I chose Bala Garage in Grand River North East which is celebrating their 45 years of service tbis year and when I called they told me it would cost Rs1,000 + VAT for a general check up. That seemed a good price and I went ahead and booked an appointment.

Once at the garage, I enquired what the service would entail and they told me it would be checking to make sure all the main and important parts of the vehicle are in good working condition and refilling/changing oil for brakes, engine etc. I opted for a wheel balancing test as well just in case they needed any alignment and that was an additional Rs400 + VAT. The only problem is that it takes at least a couple of hours to finish the job, so I left the car at the garage and went on a little journey to kill time.

The appointment was at 10am and I received a call from the garage at about 1pm telling me that the front brakes have worn out and needed replacing. As the car is automatic, I know that brake pads tend to wear faster and it would be stupid not to change them now. I could get away with a couple more months but security should always come first and I didn’t want to spend another day/half day at the garage and I told the mechanic to go ahead and replace them. That would add Rs1,100 + VAT to the bill.

I got back at the garage at around quarter to three in the afternoon and my final bill came to Rs4,100 including VAT. I was a little shocked to be honest. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:

Air Filter                      250
Oil Filter                      185
Engine Oil Helix Hx5            112.50 x 4 = 450
Gasket Drain Plug T             30
Brake Pads                      1,100
Strap                           10 x 8 = 80

Servicing / Tuning              550
Wheel Alignment                 400
Renew Front Pads                250
Check / Adjust Rear Brakes      200

TOTAL                           4019.25 (3495 + VAT at 15%)

What the garage doesn’t tell you is the initial charge of Rs1,000 for servicing is only for labour and any additional parts/fluid is going to be added on top of that. Obviously oil need to be changed and they charge for you that as well as other things. The strap costs only Rs2 but they charge you Rs10 each and because you need 8 of them, you end up losing Rs64. I’m not sure how much the other things cost but I’m sure they overcharged me for that as well.

I’m not particularly happy about this because I like to know the costs upfront and although I’ve asked twice (on the phone when making the appointment and when I dropped the car at the garage), they did not make it clear that fluids and other things required for the general maintenance were not included in the fees quoted. When you know exactly how much you’re going to pay, you can then make the call whether to go ahead with it or not and avoid surprises. I got a free car wash but it was not worth it as they used only water. Next time my car needs servicing, I might take it to a local mechanic instead. And if you’re taking yours for a general check up, you might want to clarify on the costs and what’s included in the service more clearly, otherwise you might get ripped off!

gices Published 09 Sep 2012
Gices Abraham is the founder of Clever Dodo. He's a life coach and advocates the practice of MAM (Movement/Arts/Meditation) for a well-balanced and happy life. Born in Mauritius and now living in the UK, he usually blogs about fitness, music, spirituality and driving topics to pass on his knowledge.


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1307 members . 1838 topics . 5966 posts
amitgajeelee 06 Oct 2015

Sorry if its veryyy late but Gararge Bala has been doubling all its prices since a rule of thumb they charge 200 percent more that true price for there place to service your car is often at the official branches.i get my cars serviced at riche terre Toyota and abercombie ABC motors. The others like Garage Bala, Leah Bmw Allied motors and iframac are to avoid as they always ask for 200 to 400 percent increase from true price
.I hope this helps all members in the future. P.s i got all those info from different people who work for the different companies i mentioned above.

anonymous_4 07 Feb 2013

The problems in mauritius is fake spare parts and not enough good mechanics at certain places the servicing are crap and not worth it therefore cost is not a criteria we must look at quality of the work done. When you look at cars on the roads whatever their age you have a good idea where the car has been serviced.

Peaches 13 Sep 2012

Wow that is scandalous, its amazing how this country functions, its a shame they don't have trading standards like they do in the UK, you could sue them for not making the services clear.

Khush_Mendossa 13 Sep 2012

It's worthless though. Paying a lawyer would make Gices in total loss. But glad that we know how the system works so we can take precautions.

Peaches 13 Sep 2012

Yeah here Gices would lose money, in the UK he could do it for free

Khush_Mendossa 09 Sep 2012

Rs4000 for a servicing! Looks like you really didn't take care of your car lol.

I got 1 well known garage in Bonne Terre and the other garage is a trusted mechanic in my locality. None of them takes Rs1000 for labour. Sometimes it's almost free (around Rs200 perhaps because I've been going there since a long time).

When you bought the car, did you have a mechanic with you to check the parts that have been changed?

gices 09 Sep 2012

Actually I take good care of my car and yes a mechanic checked the car before I bought it. The only thing that needed changing or topping up was the oil but I wanted someone to give the vehicle a good inspection to make sure everything is okay. Brake pads on automatic cars do not last long because they are used a lot when driving and it was just unfortunate that it was time for me to replace them so soon after buying the car.

It's a lot of money for what was supposed to be a general maintenance but I'm more gutted at the fact that I was not made aware of other "hidden charges".

Khush_Mendossa 09 Sep 2012

Next time you go there, be sure to tell them to ask you before changing any parts so as you can keep control of the cost. That's what my mechanic does!

Nevertheless...Rs1000 is a rip off for a private car.