Car repair estimates

I recently called my local mini garage for an estimate for a repair, they wanted £175 (non refundable and could not be used as an offset against repair costs) to inspect the car, do you think this is reasonable?

I have never paid for an estimate……best shop around.

That sounds like typical SE Mini dealer rates. Worth looking at some of the specialists. What’s wrong ?

Yes it is the main Team mini dealer in Brighton (Portslade), air con not working most likely needs a new compressor. I have now booked in with a small independent local garage in Hove, no (visible) inspection charges, upfront,labour and parts costs were given to me.


Erm, the procedure, as I understand things, is > we’d like the work, so here’s an estimate of the likely costs > does that strike you as being fair? > you’d like us to go ahead with the repairs? > thank you for your custom.

Tell them to get lost and go to an independent.


Leaving aside the actual rate being charged, is there anything wrong with them being paid to diagnose the fault? An independent is going to charge you to fault find anyway as part of their labour rates.

If they are inspecting the car to confirm the fault, and the then say how much to fix, then they will charge.

Dealers hourly rates are high. My local Volvo dealer is well over 100, Volvo specialist 75 and my preferred independent 55.

They won’t guess what’s required but could give you an indication of range of costs.

They will tell you their hourly charge (sit down for that) and it’s charged at % percentages of hours. I suspect your charge is an hour and a quarter.

Those lovely premises cost.

Call Munich Legends in Sussex. They do great work and their rates are not unreasonable. They also do Minis.

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Or call a vehicle aircon specialist independent.

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I’d go somewhere else. If my business charged for estimates I’d own a Statement or broke.

Not unreasonable to charge for diagnosing the fault. There’ll have been more than one chancer who’s had the fault diagnosed and then attempted the fix themselves. But bad form to not offset that charge against the final bill.


Take it to your local Kwik-fit garage. It probably just needs regassing.

Many (many) years ago, when cars were a hell of a lot less complicated than today, I worked at a car specialist that included engine diagnostics & tuning, e.g. Crypton & Rolling Road, & the then very rare air conditioning.
Customers were charged for some diagnostic work on the occasions they decided not to have the repair work done, but to be fair the charges were advised up front.

Thanks Tony, KwikFit Have re gassed twice within 2 months so unlikely needs another, KwikFit told me they don’t repair air con units beyond re gassing.

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Re-gassing means a leak somewhere (sorry thats stating the obvious) & could probably be the compressor seal.
Leak detection is a very simple job for an aircon specialist & if it is a seal or a hose fitting, I would not expect to be charged for that. But at least you get a diagnosis & a cost estimate, plus if you decide not to get it repaired, they can very easily disconnect the compressor clutch & make what’s left of the system safe & for you to carry on using the car.

Running low of refrigerant gas is also doing further damage at a pretty rapid rate;
If the low side goes into a vacuum its sucking in air & thats carbonising the system & wrecking the compressor.
Low on gas means the oil is not being circulated correctly & thats also wrecking the compressor.
Re Kwik-Fit re-gassing, its against regulations to just re-gas a system if its known to have an unrepaired leak. Not sure how KF get away with that

The previous owner my neighbour told me about air con issue, he did take it the the bmw dealer from whom he bought the car and who had maintained the car from new, told them about the issue they found no fault and regassed it.
If it’s against regulations does that affect mot / insurance or make the car illegal to drive?

No, it does not affect you or MOT or insurance.
F-Gas Regulations apply to the repairer
The company & the AC techs must have the correct qualifications.
Qualifications can be a full qualification issued by a recognised UK body (C&G, IMI etc)
Or in-house training & qualification to those standards issued by a UK approved employer.
This will include refrigerant handling & recovery
… and that includes a specific that … If a vehicle’s air-conditioning system has had an abnormal leak of refrigerant you must repair the leak before refilling it with F-gases.
Releasing F-Gas to the atmosphere is an offence & subject to penalties

Google your vehicle’s problem. Try and diagnose then you can tell your shop what the problem seems to be. If I need AC work I’d go to a specialist

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