12 February 2007

What's your favourite... Garage?

| johnboy
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So, being the start of the new week it’s time to pool our collective knowledge and debate the merits of something. Last week was gyms, this week let’s discuss garages.

Where, in your experience is the best place to get a car serviced?

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Canberra Toyota – a five week wait for a $1.50 part.

Genie – Your car your call – ill repeat what I said above – just relaying my experiences – not yours.

Maybe its ready to snap – maybe its not – maybe they said it isn’t ready to snap even though it is – and they end up gaining – who knows – if a mechanic told me mine was on the way out – I would replace it quick smart – being mechanically minded as I am – I am pretty good with a workshop manual and anything thats external to the block. to the short engine.

Timing belt on my car should be changed every 120,000 kms. Cost me a lot, they had to remove the front end of the car just to get at it.

I think you guys are all missing the point i made. The mechanic TOLD me my timing belt was ready to snap – 5 mechanics later over 3 years, THERES NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. IT DOESN’T NEED REPLACING. I get scammed EVERY time i get my car serviced and told it needs work done to it when nothing it wrong – so far it hasn’t mattered where ive taken my car.

Do yourself a favour and find out if your engine is an ‘interference’ type or not. What this means is if the belt breaks and the valve gear stops, do the pistons smack the open valves as they (the pistons) keep going for a second or two. The diference, as noted above, is probably $1-2,000.
Certainly peace of mind or otherwise, and may affect your maintenance spend.

Genie – just relaying my experiences – not yours.

idiots who skimp on mechanical repairs reap what they sow.

timing belts etc shoudl be changed in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

so genie, your 1300 saving may cost you a new engine.

basic maintenance at home such as fluid changes on at least a six-monthly basis are simple and can save you big dollars over the life of your car.

in my experience – mobile anyone (auto sparks, mechanics etc) are just time wasters.

as are backyarders.

and if you have a bad experience with a mechanic – tell him why, and why you wont go back.

a good indicator of pending probs is if you cant actually speak to the mechanic and have to interface through a front office. rarely do they write down exactly what your problem is. resulting in extra work (which you pay for) and repeat visits.

smaller shops tend to give better service than any franchise/chain. usually at better prices.

Danman –

The mechanic told me my belt would snap within the next 1000k’s or so… i’ve done almost 25,000k’s since. Plus other mechanics have told me there is nothing wrong with it. Hence the savings of $1300.

When your female and it comes to cars.. I always getting a second opinion if anything ‘costly’ needs replacing. So far everytime my ‘second opinion’ (a mate whose a mechanic) told me i was being scammed and heavily over quoted. Especially since the belt that needed replacing should only cost about $200. Not $1300.

The people up the end of Lonsdale St, opposite Haig Park, seem to do a good job and have a good attitude. They’re at the servo with the big auto carwash, can’t remember what flavour of petrol they have.
Echo the sentiments about Nat Cap at Belconnen. Avoid.

I recommend Chris Hedges Mechanical in Fyshwick. He’s a great guy, very honest, reliable and helpful and does a good job with no BS. I’ve been going to him for years now and will continue to do so (when you find a good mechanic…)

Indi, I think he also specialises (or used to) in Alfa Romeos and other european cars.

I was also quoted 3 years ago that a belt in my car needed to be replaced as it was in risk of snapping – still going strong. Saved myself $1300

On personal experience – I would not be skimping in this area – could cost a lot more.

Timing belt on suzuki – ~$80
Labour to fit – ~$120

Cost of timing belt snapping and bending valves – damaging pistons – ruining valve guides – priceless.

Hey Indi, I know Roger Keft Auto Repairs started off years and years ago specialising in Renaults and other european cars etc so may be worth looking him up and having a chat to them.

I recommend –


Great service always!

anyone know a reliable mechanic who specialises in Alfa Romeo’s?

Another one here for Subaroo in Mitchell.

When I used to own a Subaru it was plagued by wheel bearing problems. These guys were the only ones who fixed both of them properly (after replacement bearings done by the dealer kept failing).


As there was no warning we were going to do this and the comments have almost entirely come from existing users I’m not too worried.

I would have to say to avoid Lube Mobile (especially if your female), i like the convience of having someone fix my car in my driveway – however every time i get charged a fortune for stuff that isnt even wrong with my car! One average my $200 service costs me $500 – even when i ask for no further work to be done.

I have have my car serviced 3 times with Lube Mobile, everytime i have been quoted for repairs reaching almost the $2000 mark. Never have i agreed to getting that stuff fixed – and yet its never been the same thing twice. Only a month ago i was told i needed 4 new tires and my breaks needed to be completely replaced urgently, i was told my car was unroadworthy – quote $2500 – went to a tire shop, my tires are good for about another 10,000k’s, I can wait another month or 2. Got breaks checked at a break shop – nothing wrong with them, just a little bit dirty!

I was also quoted 3 years ago that a belt in my car needed to be replaced as it was in risk of snapping – still going strong. Saved myself $1300.

I personally recommend finding a mechanic friend and offering them a case of beer to maintain your car – and then pay for parts.

resulted in a bit of advertising disguised as comment

Yeah, I actually work for Capital Subaru and i’m sick and tired of customers interrupting me, so i’m posting negative reviews.

PS – I have no affiliation with either company aside from being a very satisfied customer.

For my Holden V8, I have recently had good experiences with Gen-Tech in Mitchell (they specialise in GenIII/IV V8s and also have a lot of experience with the old 5.0L engine.) They do (proper) auto gearbox servicing, too. Marcus and his boys are very, very thorough.


For tuning type stuff, and back when I was frigging around with carbied engines Precision Automotive (also in Mitchell) were always fantastic to deal with. Ken is truly a ‘guru’ of the industry, AFAIC.


The rest of the time I handle routine servicing on my driveway.

Now, can someone recommend a good workshop in Canberra for getting diff work done?

Asking readers to submit their opinions on this subject can, and I suspect has, resulted in a bit of advertising disguised as comment.

I am aware of one business which has received positive comment above being totally on the nose for a variety of attitude and business practices over a period of years through a number of premises.

Caveat emptor.

Sammy – ditch Capital Subaru for A&D Motors. I’ve saved a small fortune in Subaru repairs with Darren, who is a Subaru driver and repairer and charges about half the Rolfe and Capital service charges. Not relevant really, but I’ve never seen such a clean workshop! You could eat off the concrete floor and not ingest any motor oil!

Neanderthalsis, I’m pretty sure several years ago someone (ACCC or similar) ruled they can’t force you to go to them for service to honour the warranty. I bought a new car 3 years ago and specifically asked that question; he admitted I could take it anywhere as long as the service was done correctly and the log book was stamped.

richopesto_once more5:58 pm 12 Feb 07

spot on howdy – Subaroo in Mitchell. I kept buying subarus for years just so these guys would service them.

I dont think the industry has changed much since I used to “know some guys” in the game.
ripoffs, forgetfulness, 2nd hand parts, liars, too lazy too keep looking, …I’ve seen, and suffered, it all.

Apparently Gombars in Qbyn are OK…but then my girfriend comes home with a report from them that says she has a water leak and it should be serviced urgently..where? not specified.
Not a leak in the ol’ girl (the car that is), bloody liars.

Doesnt leave much option does it?

I know the guy who runs B&E in Mitchell. he and his missus are bloody hard workers and good folk who arent afraid to employ indigines and minorities who wouldn’t get a look in elsewhere. Good on ’em.

I currently own a diesel Hilux, I havent needed a mechanic for about 3 years now :-).

Buy a Suby, go to Subaroo.

For brake and clutch services give Alan at ‘Reface ya brakes’ a call.
He’s fully mobile, partner and I rate him and he’s a really nice guy.

neanderthalsis5:21 pm 12 Feb 07

Well, driving a European car means I put it in to the “specialist” for warranty purposes. In all probability the mechanics learnt their trade on old 120Ys or Kingswoods anyway and I have to mortgage the house and sell the soul of my unborn firstborn son to cover the costs. But hey, thats the price we pay I guess.

avoid the servo at the wanniassa shops. in a last ditch effort to work out why my engine was randomly overheating and making sloshing water noises in the dash (had tried several mechanics already who just replaced lots of hoses) I asked them for a new thermostat.
I was so frustrated at this point I was prepared to fork out the $80 just to eliminate it from the list.

Knowing my engine was actually on the way out they put in a very old thermostat (with two old sealants already glued to it) that didn’t open in boiling water. The plan was that after this dodgy thermostat had finished the engine off they were hoping I’d bring the car back to them to fix for a price ‘they weren’t sure about til they pull the engine apart’.

Luckily a friend offered to fix it for me first. Driving the car there at 10kms with a boiling engine was no fun tho!

I rang up the wanniassa place after and just got some angry bs about how dare I accuse them of something like that, they had the receipt to prove it, blah blah blah. I guess I hadn’t realised then how well planned it had all been.

Maybe all females should start out with a couple of really old cars so you learn what horrid noises mean and how much they cost, so when you get a newer car and look like you have the money to fix it you’re more likely to know what to expect? perhaps…

On the other hand the subaru repair place in Mitchell (part of haig park off road centre) is great, they do other cars now as well, a little bit more expensive but at least you know they are doing it right and with genuine parts.

They spent all day looking for a brake fluid leak once, keeping me updated on the progess until they found it in an ‘automatic hand brake unit’ the 85 L series have. Most other mechanics would have given up and excused it on a dodgy dash warning light…

AND my car didn’t screw up by some co-incidence a few months after every service.

Another one for A&D Automotive out in Fyshwick. Darren there is an absolute wiz and his workmanship I have not been able to fault.

Oh and advance transmissions in mitchell for any gearbox/drivetrain work. Fully remanufactured h/d gearbox for swifty cost about 800

I personally recommend anywhere but midas calwell, we had the car put in for a service there, and when we got back, it had a dent in it. And when we picked it up, one of the mechanics was complaining that our car company was just shit .etc. Hmm…..stay as far away from there as possible!!

Total Traction Services in Belconnen. Honest guys (brothers Thomas and Michael) doing good work without fuss and strife. I don’t understand why that is rare in that industry, but it is.

I 2nd Russell @ Mobil Fisher. Used to take the car there when I lived in Fisher, still do now I’m in living in deepest darkest southside. Excellent job everytime.

Oh, and the reason I have a problem with this (previous post) is because last time the wife picked up the car, she phoned me in a panic wondering if it was safe to drive home on the tyres. They are causing unnecessary panic in their customers.

I have a beef with Capital Subaru whereby they always list your tyre condition as ‘fair’, no matter the condition, it seems. At the latest service, when the tyres on the car were about 2 months old, they listed the condition as ‘fair’.

I queried why they were ‘fair’ and not ‘good’ and they stated that ‘good’ and ‘danger’ were small brackets and ‘fair’ was a big bracket, so most fell into ‘fair’.

Upon inspection of the actual mechanics report (rather than the invoice), he had listed them all as being ‘good’. F*$#ing ridiculous.

Anyone used Ultra Tune at Tuggeranong recently? I used to take my car there many years ago, but stopped because I moved out of the area. I’m looking for a new mechanic and if they’re still run by the same people, I’d be willing to drive across town for the good service.

i’m with Aidan. Paul will always get someone to have a quick look at your car if you just rock up and fix it there and then if it is simple.

darkladywolf1:09 pm 12 Feb 07

I’ve used A&D Automotive out at Fyshwick for a lot of years now. It’s the first place I’ve actually felt I can trust them to do a good job and not screw me over.

We were very happy with Paul Whyte Automotive when he was in Giralang (he moved out to Gungahlin when the shops were run into the ground by the owners).

Plenty of other people were happy with his service as there were always heaps of cars waiting to be worked on and you’d need to book a few days to a week in advance to get them to see your car.

Russell at Fisher Garage (ex Mobil Garage), Kalgoorlie Cresc., Fisher 6288 2211. Nice bloke, realistic prices, good service.

in belco give melba motors a whirl. great bloke, does a good job with limited fuss and hassle

DTS in Fyshwick, 62391258. Tuning, servicing, car modifications, excellent customer service and my car comes back looking and sounding better than when I dropped it off.

Worst would have to be Nat Cap in Tuggeranong. For pretty much the reasons Swaggie put forward the Belco mob.

B & E Auto in Mitchell, 6253 8155. Talk to Jeff. Top bloke, great service, realistic prices and worth the drive over from Tuggeranong.

Worst garage? Nat Cap Motors in Belco. Unreliable, Slack, Expensive, Unhelpful… the list is endless.

Steve at Metro Car Care in Mitchell. My first choice for everything car-related. Honest and he doesn’t rip females off. Plus he always takes the effort to discuss all my options with me in a way I understand. They have a friendly female receptionist too 🙂

Second choice would be Tony at the Caltex servo in Braddon (haven’t been for a while but hopefully he’s still there).

Until I sold my car last year I always went to John who owns/runs Dickson Mechanical and Muffler service. Very honest decent and friendly bloke who will literally scour the country for good second hand parts rather than being lazy and getting new parts which will cost you the earth. I never ever felt like I had been ripped off by him.

My first visit to John when I needed the steering rack in my car replaced – his quote was in the region of $500 cheaper than Jackson’s (which I should add I have heard extremely negative comments about since as well) directly over the road from him.

I like to use mine, automatic roller door, sensor light, space for my car and extra crap IT ROCKS.

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