Ask the Mechanic

HERE IS HOW TO CHOOSE A RELIABLE GARAGE

Hello Paul, I have been driving for three years now but have had bad experiences with different garages that have disappointed me with dishonest, quality of work and timeliness. How can I find or choose a good garage?

Florence

Hello Florence, finding a good garage to maintain and repair your car can be as daunting as finding a good builder or wife. As the saying goes, ‘a few rotten apples spoil the bin of apples’. Literally, a few errant garages will taint the reputation of the whole garage or car repair industry.  However, for every one bad garage, there are three good ones with helpful and capable technicians. Here are a few tips to guide you.

Ratings and customer review

 In an ideal environment, there should have been an institutionalised garage inspection and rating scheme which would help with adherence to recommended industry standards. In Uganda, garage reputation by referral or good reviews from friends, family seems to be most reliable. Independent feedback that vouches for integrity, fair pricing and good quality work of a garage can be a useful tool for deciding which garage to go to.

Registration and legitimacy

 A suitable garage or provider ought to be registered and licensed to operate with a permanent address. These are indicators of responsibility, good organisation and uprightness.

A mobile garage may seem convenient as it can even operate in your backyard but you may not easily have opportunity for recourse, fall back or liability in the event that you need further assistance or a job is not completed. It helps to find a registered garage with a permanent address.

Management

 A good garage should have a sound management team and qualified mechanics who can explain clearly the car diagnosis, repair or maintenance needs and the procedure or requirements to meet the repair or maintenance needs of your car. The more you understand about the repair and maintenance cycle and costs involved, the more you will be comfortable to proceed  transacting with the garage you choose.

Decent infrastructure

 The presence and use of modern diagnostic and car repair tooling is a sign that a garage is serious about fixing and maintaining your car. Most cars running about today have modern engine management systems, electronic anti-lock brakes as well as modern suspension designs. Handling these sorts of repairs requires aptitude and knowledge to use modern tools required to get the job done. Cranes, car stands, lifts, tools are all signs of a garage fit for that purpose.

A good garage should have basic infrastructure such as a perimeter boundary and gate for security, office and comfortable customer seating space, clean washroom or bathroom facility, inspection pit or car hoists, repair bays and a firm clean floor with a waste oil disposal system. It should also adhere to the basic industry safety standards and environmental management policy.

Genuine parts

A sound garage should have a policy which openly shows you the quality or source of parts they intend to use when repairing your car. These should either be new, genuine or original equipment manufacture products. In cases where used parts have to be used, there should be proof of soundness and fidelity.

WHICH IS BEST BETWEEN A MERCEDES GL AND LAND ROVER DISCOVERY?

Hello Paul, please compare the Mercedes Benz GL 350 bluetec, 3.0l, 2013 and Land Rover Discovery l4, 3.0l, 2013 in terms of performance, fuel consumption and maintenance. Which do you think will be the best buy? 

Martin

Hello Martin, the 2013 Mercedes GL 350 Cdi and Land Rover Discovery 3.0L TDV6 are sports utility vehicles withturbo charged 3.0 litre six-cylinder common rail diesel injection V shaped engines. They are both nimble with prompt response to a tap of the throttle pedal.

The Mercedes GL 350 Cdi has a slightly smaller engine of 2,987cc with bigger power 258 hp at 3600rpm and superior torque 619 Nm at 1600rpm.  Land Rover Discovery TDV6’s  bigger 2,993cc engine delivers less power 245 hp at 4000rpm and a smaller torque 600Nm at 2000rpm.

The Mercedes GL has slightly better highway fuel economy of 13 km/ litre while the Discovery TDV6 delivers 11.5 km/litre. The Mercedes GL’s superior fuel economy is helped by its 7 speed 7G Tronic automatic gearbox (Discovery has a 6 speed) which helps achieve peak engine power and torque at lower engine revolutions per minute. This improves Mercedes fuel demand to load ratio. The Mercedes GL has a lower, more aero dynamic body profile with a lighter kerb weight of 2,175 kilogrammes, which puts a less load and fuel demand on the engine compared to the Discovery TDV6’s loftier and heavier body of 2,583 kilogrammes.

The Mercedes GL and Land Rover Discovery TDV6 both have excellent quality finishes with superb amenities and luxury finishes. The Discovery is more of an outdoor off road adventure family vehicle while the Mercedes GL is a comfortable highway cruiser. The Discovery is roomier with better headroom, shoulder room and load space. Mercedes GL has equally excellent legroom with a seven-seater capacity just like Discovery. Both the Mercedes GL and Discovery TDV6 offer superb on road handling thanks to electronic driver aids such as Traction control, electronic stability programme, and electronic brake force distribution active cornering enhancement.

However, off road, the Discovery TDV6 is far superior as it can tackle extreme offroad terrain with excellent towing and climbing ability on treacherous slippery muddy terrain. The Mercedes GL and Discovery TDV6 overall maintenance is easy because of availability of garages with necessary tooling and skill set. Mercedes has a better parts availability while Discovery parts can be found with a handful of dealers. I think your choice should be driven by your preference for an on road cruiser (Mercedes) or tough off road family wagon (Discovery).

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