Garages are routinely failing to find basic faults and charging for bogus work, according to an investigation.
Of 62 garages secretly tested by the consumer group Which?, nearly 90 per cent, 54, missed at least one potentially dangerous fault. Five fixed none of the problems.
Four basic faults were introduced: a nearly flat spare tyre, minimum brake fluid, a blown reversing light and low pressure in a rear tyre. Most garages – 68 per cent – did not inflate the spare tyre and one in five, 21 per cent, did not correct the rearside low pressure. Half did not top up the brake fluid and 57 per cent missed the blown reverse light.
As a test of honesty, Which? filled the screenwash to see how many garages charged for it: 39 per cent did so, billing between 68p and £2.41.
Garages affiliated to the Bosch Car Service scheme scored highest, fixing 64 per cent of faults, followed by Motor Codes members who fixed 60 per cent. Good Garage Scheme members scored 39 per cent, worse than the 43 per cent achieved by independent garages.
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which?'s chief executive 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 fact that Bosch and Motor Codes schemes have outperformed independent garages is encouraging, but there's still a long way to go for the industry to win the confidence of car owners."