An undercover investigation into UK car garages suggests the vast majority miss simple mechanical faults, consumer watchdog Which? has said.
Which? took cars with four deliberate faults to 62 firms including both franchises and independent sites.
Some 87% missed at least one problem, such as a deflated spare tyre or low brake fluid. All the faults were serious enough to cause a crash.
Which? called the latest investigation a “worrying snapshot of an industry that desperately needs to clean up its act”.
Only eight garages fixed all of the problems on the vehicles, which were between 3 and 6 years old, while five did not rectify a single fault.
Which? found 48% of garages failed to spot brake fluid was at the minimum level; 68% did not inflate the nearly flat spare tyre; 57% missed a defective reversing light bulb, and the low pressure in the nearside rear tyre was missed by 21%.
In the latest exercise, the watchdog also tested the garages’ honesty by filling the car’s screenwash reservoir and seeing whether garages charged for new fluid regardless.
Almost 40% billed for new screenwash.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “Almost all the garages in our investigation failed to fix basic faults.
“This could have endangered the lives of drivers and other road users and is simply not acceptable.”
The watchdog is now calling for a new industry-wide qualification for all mechanics.
Which? found that garages affiliated to the Bosch Car Service and Motor Codes scheme performed better than average.
Garages endorsed by both codes spotted more than 60% of the faults.
But only 39% of problems were spotted by garages registered with the Good Garage Scheme.
Mr Vicary-Smith said: “The fact that the Bosch and Motor Codes schemes have out-performed independent garages is encouraging.
“But there’s still a long way to go for the industry to win the confidence of car owners.”
Rachel Greasby, from the Good Garage Scheme, said she was disappointed with the results.
She said: “Once we have further details on which garages are involved, a full investigation will be launched.
“Currently we carry out audits on all members bi-annually. The small minority who fail are removed from the scheme until they meet the required standards.”
Source: BBC News