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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was going to post this up anyway, but having just read some threads about bad traders/bad garages, then I think it's definitely time to inject some positivity :)

So, McLennans garage, based in Loanhead just on the south outskirts of Edinburgh, are quite simply the dog's ******** IMO :thumbs: I shall now explain why...

I first went to them for a service on my 166 around about Jan 2011 IIRC. I choose them as I'd seen other recommendations, whereas the other Alfa specialist in Edinburgh (which is more conveniently located for me) doesn't get such glowing reviews. When I went in to pick up the 166, Stuart Senior took me in to the office and spent about half an hour both chatting away and also going through the many points that they'd found with the car that were wrong. These were generally minor things like a missing exhaust heat shield, a front brake pipe routed slightly the wrong way in the engine bay, etc. Given that it only went in for a service, I wasn't expecting them to have gone over the car with a fine toothed comb and reported back their findings. But as I say, Stuart explained everything, and I remember him pulling a new upper wishbone off the shelf to show me when describing how the bushes on one of mine was on it's way out. He also explained to me about the common gear shift seizing up problem, which mine had to small degree.

A cynical person may assume that this was simply marketing tactics to encourage me back to get more work done, but it never felt like this. Instead I went away feeling very impressed with the service provided.


With my MOT due in Oct 2011, and knowing I needed to get a few suspension related issues resolved, I got back in touch with them around Sep. I had sourced most of the parts myself, and Stuart had no qualms about fitting customer supplied kit. But at that time it was proving difficult to get hold of Powerflex bushes for the back. Internet/ebay traders were listing them, but when contacted were all saying the same thing - none in stock, awaiting new stock from Powerflex, but they can't tell us when they are going to be available. This put a big fly in the ointment, as time was getting on. Stuart took the baton and proceded to try and source them for me. He kept me updated with phone calls, and seemed to go to quite a lot of effort contacting all his usuall suppliers and getting told the same as me, but he eventually came through.

So the 166 went in, was MOT'd, and had all the suspension work done etc. When I went to pick it up, I found Stuart Junior sat in the drivers seat with his laptop hooked up. Whilst he was waiting for me to arrive, he'd decided to read the ECU for fault codes because I've got a problem with my ASR turning itself off. Once again, I wasn't expecting this, but it was a nice touch. We had a chat - me, Stuart Senior and Stuart Junior - and they made some suggestions about what the problem could be. As per usual, I think Stuart Senior probably kept me there for a while talking over everything that was done etc.

A couple of weeks later I noticed something odd with the car. Not bad odd, good odd :) Back in the winter of 2010/2011 my paint had been damaged in a few places as I kept the car in an underground carpark, and one day it had been dripped on, with the water containing a lot of concrete dust. The concrete dust had eaten in to the lacquer. I had managed to hand polish out most of it, but I had a line down the drivers door that I just couldn't shift by hand. It had been like that for nearly a year, and yet, here I was one day looking at my car and realising it was no longer there :confused: I never actually asked them, but I'm positive that they polished that out whilst they were waiting for me, because the other thing McLennans have done every time my car has been in, is give it a wash before I pick it up :thumbs::thumbs:

My 3rd experience with McLennans has been this week. It was due in for the MOT anyway, but I had to make a more urgent call to them last week when my water pump failed. As per usual, I discussed the work with Stuart Senior on the phone, he gave me a quote, and in it went. Middle of this week, he called with good and bad news - good news being that it went through the MOT fine, bad news being that it was also going to need a auxilary belt tensioner as it was gubbed, so it was going to be more expensive. He went on to tell me that my water pump failure was one of the worst he'd seen, and that it was an unusual part as usually the plastic bit is a sort of orangey beige, but this one was more of a darker, reddish orange (for the record, a metal pump was fitted in replacement :)). It also had a sheared bolt. The tensioner mentioned earlier was badly grooved and the bearing was failing. This level of detail is assuring as I know I'm talking to someone who knows what they are doing. Another thing I found assuring is that when quoting for the work I'd asked him to include doing the plugs. Stuart told me they may not be necessary as they have quite a long service life. In my head I was thinking, I don't care, just do them anyway so it's a complete job. when it came down to it Stuart told me he'd checked the plugs and they were fine, so no point in replacing them, which I went along with due to the unexpected expense of the aux belt tensioner. He could have easily included that in the job and charged me, or worse still, charged me for replacing the plugs and not done anything at all! But he didn't.

I picked the car up tonight. This time Stuart couldn't get me out of the door quick enough - actually, that's bull****! :p :lol: It was the usual, bit of chat, talked me through all the work done, took me in to the garage to show me the old parts (without me having to ask to see them). But what made this visit even more special is that they had also waxoiled part of the floorpan due to a bit of corrosion, AND free'd up the gearshift mechanism as this had got a lot stiffer, both done free of charge, and without me having to ask them :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs: Gearshift is lovely and free oving now.

Now for all the chat, and the little extras (washing the cars, going and fetching the car when the customer arrives and leaving it at the entrance for you etc), you'd think they mustn't be that busy if they can "waste" time on stuff like that. But they're bloody not! :eek: They're in from pre-8am and stay open till 7pm or more it seems (I left there at 7pm tonight and another customer had come in behind me, and Stuart had tried to call me at half 9 last night about picking the car up), and they always seem to have a 1 week lead time on work.

So I sincerely hope that McLennans continue to be busy, but not too busy to continue the kind of service they provide at the moment. They are good old fashioned family business, friendly, welcoming, honest, well priced and - most importantly - they know what they are doing.

Stuart McLennan and family, I salute you ;)
 

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Great write up.

It's a great thing about Alfa that you do find specialists like this. Long may they keep up the good work.
 

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Used McLennans many times over the years with absolutely no problems.

Miss the V6 75 courtsey car though!
 

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Yup, used Stuart for a couple of services and the Timimg belt and pump change on my old 159, I can report very similar treatment, superb service. Place doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's the old adage 'never trust a book by it's cover' that rings true here. If only the car needed servicing when I was closer to them they would have all the serviving work on the car. As it is I will try to arrange my service mileage to conincide with a visit to Loanhead on my new 159 Ti. USE THIS GARAGE.
 
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Had my GT for only a few months and came with a pile of receipts from McLennans ....reading this would inspire me to travel the 60 miles to use....Logically have to prefer a Glasgow based indie Alfa specialist CM Garage Services in East Kilbride ....I have only been once and I received outstanding friendly service.
 

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It's nice to know that quality Indies exist, especially with so many cowboy's around.

I can second the outstanding care and service of CM in East Kilbride. Chick has taken good care of my 166 and has a similar approach to explaining and discussing work. I even had a driveshaft ordered and fitted at cost price because it took a couple of visits to ascertain the problem. That's the sign of a good garage, when they put the customer before profit, knowing that you'll likely return and/or recommend them.
 

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I went to McLennans based on feedback on this site, and delighted with the service. It's great to find an indy who manages to combine expert knowledge, quality work and excellent customer service. Highly recommended!
 

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I used McLennans for the Brera DPF removal/remap earlier this year. Drive from Inverness to Edinburgh, let them work their magic and on pick up, had the same excellent service over and above what was expected, much in line with the experiences above. It's fair to say my drive from there down to Manchester was conducted with a huge smile on my face!

I now live in Lincoln, so will be unable to use their services again, but I can't recommend Stuart enough!
 

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I used McLennans to change the timimg belt and water pump. it,s good to be able to talk to someone about what they are going to do to your pride and joy. i will be using them again.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I popped in today to get some oil. The 166 was running low, and I wanted to check what type of oil they'd put in it before (Stuart doesn't bother with Selenia), so I could get the same. So as I was in the area anyway, I thought I'd pop in and buy some from them.

Stuart told me to bring the 166 around and he'd top it up for me. I said it was OK and I'd just take the oil away, but he was quite insistent :) After topping it up I asked him how much I owed him and he said "nothing" :) I asked him if he was sure and he said "Call it a little Christmas present" then gave the 166 a loving pat as he walked away :lol:

It's not even like I'm a regular customer there! And yet he remembers my name and gives me a free oil top up. They really know how to keep their customer happy :thumbs:

Oh, and they also had a gorgeous red 159 2.4 Ti Q4 estate outside. Don't see many of those about!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Nah, it was a customer's car I think. Only mentioned it as I have a bit of a hard on for 159 Tis at the moment, and it looked bloody lovely, and the Q4s are rare as a British summer.
 

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Nah, it was a customer's car I think. Only mentioned it as I have a bit of a hard on for 159 Tis at the moment, and it looked bloody lovely, and the Q4s are rare as a British summer.
Ahhh... you and me both ;) That would be my 1st choice next Alfa provided 'she who must be obeyed' doesn't cut off my man vegetables first, which she will if she gets wind of what I have in mind for my next Alfa :(
 

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Great write up and the only place I'll take my Alfas :thumbs:
 

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Just to add to the positive comments about Mclennans.
I last used them about 15 years ago when my wife and I both had a 33 each (and I really miss my little 1.5Ti and she had a 1.7ie). Since then had a 147 as a company car and moved away from Alfa's so had no use to use them.
Last year we got into Alfa's again when we got a 2.0 GTV and I spent time pottering on the things I could fix. Come MOT time recently and I knew one of the rear bushes would need attention and was thinking about poly bushes so decided it was a job for a garage and a trip back to Stuart.
As other have said he spent a lot of time explaining the options, other things they picked up as they were inspecting it and recommending when and how to address those things in the most cost efficient manner. Total bill was even less than he quoted!!

Ps - had the rear polybushed and has made a good improvement as my wife commented in the passenger seat on the way back!. They even powder coated the rear arms red and waxoiled the springpans when they did the bushes (their standard approach but a nice touch!)
:thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
and moved away from Alfa's so had no use to use them.
It's always worth remembering that although they are an Alfa specialist, they don't deal with Alfa's exclusively.

For me, having a garage like McLennans that you can trust is really important, so if/when I get rid of the 166 I shall more than likely to continue using them unless it's for a specialist job on an entirely different marque that they are not so confident in doing.

Once you find a garage like them, you need a really good reason to take your business elsewhere. I had a similar situation in LOndon, in that I lived fairly centrally, but someone I knew recommended a garage right out in the outskirts in Barnet for working on my 205 GTI. It was pain in the ass getting to them, but I just wouldn't go anywhere else, becuase they had the same business ethos as McLennans - small, family run establishment with honest and friendly service.
 

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Just have to add my twopennies worth, I have just collected my car from McLennans after its first service. I had dropped it off on friday morning and was due to get it back last night, but there was a wee issue that required some extra work, having worked on it through the day both McLennans (jnr and snr)were still calling me last night at 9 o'clock giving me updates about what was going to be happening THROUGH THE NIGHT, and what they would be doing on it today. They had actually given me Mrs Mclennans fine wee Mito to use when it became clear my car wasnt coming home last night and even earlier today they had told me that they doubted it would be ready until monday and that as I work south, I was to use the Mito for the week and collect my 159 next weekend. Blimey, I didnt even ask for a car! I left to head south at 1pm after popping into the garage and within the hour got a call to say they had managed to get it ready for me and that I could come back and get it. Talk about pulling out all the stops. These guys really care about what they do, they care for the cars but most of all they care about the customer. This is unbelievable service from passionate people. I cant recommend Mclennans highly enough, no main dealer will ever offer the service that is provided here. Oh the car...running better than ever, love it even more, they even managed to wash it for me.
cheers
Fraser
 

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Just to add my views...

Have dealt with Stewart senior and Stewart junior for 21 years now with my alfas and various other cars and can only report great service and help. Two examples......

1. My 146 clutch went on a Saturday lunchtime in the pouring rain on M9. Called the AA and he asked me where I wanted to go. So I rang Stewart and he said he would stay open for me until the AA got me there - which was about 4 o'clock in the end. Bear in mind Stewart normally shuts about 1 pm on a Saturday.

2. My gtv6 was making a strange clonking noise on the M90. Again, I rang Stewart and he suggested bring it in and he looked at it straight away. It was only a gearbox support bolt which he replaced free of charge. But the piece of mind was great.

I could continue - I only have the highest praise for Stewart and all at the garage. The only issue is that he is so busy and so keen to do a good job is that there is often a wait till you can book non-urgent jobs in.

Simon

Ps keeping my fingers crossed for when I take my spider in next month for the MOT!
 
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