I’ve not been the fast-fit trade’s biggest fan. I caused a considerable kerfuffle over a decade ago when some shock absorbers were changed on my motor, and there was a full-scale head office assault on the outlet that misdiagnosed my suspension issues.
Since then, feeling thoroughly vindicated and apart from the odd puncture emergency, I’ve steered clear of them.
On Saturday night, however, my old barge got a case of the shakes and the steering wheel went into full-on vibration mode. It happened at around 60mph on certain concrete roadsections on the M25 motorway and some dual carriageways. It had been occurring irregularly for a while and I just thought it might be a tired suspension quirk, but the difference that night was that the on-board audience was less than impressed, and that spurred me into action.
It could only be unbalanced wheels, I reckoned, but on a Sunday morning my local garage was shut. That meant a 10am call to the nearest fast-fit centre. Even at opening time there was a queue. In front of me was an old mum and dad being driven by their the son and daughter-in-law to a family gathering several hours away. A slow puncture needed investigating. Then there was a bloke and his teenage son with some alloy wheel issues. So I wasn’t going to get away quickly.
Never mind. There are seats, a hot drinks machine, reading material and a view of the workshop, so it was all very civilised. After three quarters of an hour they got round to my car, and the slightly dour reception fellow reckoned it wouldn’t be as simple as the wheel balance.
Well it was. It was the old, "whoever fitted your front wheels last" chat. That would be a mobile fitter, part of a franchise. He clearly didn’t know how to fit weights on a wheel, I was told, committing the schoolboy error of counterbalancing them, apparently. Now I'm waiting for customer services of the mobile outfitter to tell me just what they intend to do next.
My point is that fast-fits are fabulously convenient places. You just turn up and they fix your car, even on a Sunday. But what has your your experience been?