We get under the skin of the garages that give your cars TLC. Here’s Nick Bray, boss of Smile Servicing and Repairs
If you were a car what would you be?
I’m 58 years old so definitely not a Ferrari! I’d be an old Land Rover.
Where did the garage’s name come from?
It’s not as interesting as you might think! The garage next to us was going to be called Smile Cars so we thought it would make sense if we were Smile Servicing. Later they found out they couldn’t use that name.
Where are you located?
Hilsea in Portsmouth.
How long has the garage been going?
What’s the weirdest car you’ve ever worked on?
Nissan Figaro (below).
What’s the most embarrassing car problem a customer has had?
There have been instances where keys have been locked in the boot and when we’ve unlocked it there have been some fairly ‘specialist’ items or literature on display. I’ll say no more!
If you could fix anyone’s car who would it be?
How do you describe your garage?
We’re a very close-knit team: we’ve got two brothers and a father and son working for us.
How many employees do you have?
Have you ever had to fix your own car?
Yes I have. All I’ll say is, I’m not as good at it as the team around me!
What’s your favourite bit of kit?
Our MOT kit is pretty impressive. It’s made doing an MOT state of the art, one-man stuff.
What station is the radio in your garage tuned to?
Strangest place you’ve recovered a car from?
We have to recover cars from the docks quite often.
Who’s your most famous customer?
(Arsenal and England midfielder, below) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s mum!
What’s the strangest thing anyone’s ever asked you to do to their car?
Usually anything to do with pets. We’ve fitted special doggy seatbelts and put bespoke seats in the front for animals.
If you could only work on one car, what would it be?
Nissan Micras have lots of room under the bonnet and it’s quite easy to get at most of the important bits.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened in the garage?
We have a laugh every day; nothing in particular stands out.
Is there any make of car you see more than any others?
As the old Solent Motor Group used to be based around here, we see a lot of Nissans and Citroens.
What’s the fix (on a car) you’re proudest of?
I can’t think of any so I’ll say we’re proud of all the jobs we do.
If you had one piece of advice for car owners, what would it be?
Check your tyre pressures and oil levels regularly. We see so many cars that need new tyres or work doing to their engines because the owners haven’t done the most basic maintenance.
James is an award-winning motoring journalist with more than 20 years’ experience on national publications. He writes a popular consumer column for the Daily Telegraph Motoring section and contributes features to MSN Cars. James was motoring editor for the News of the World for seven years and has held senior editorial staff roles on Auto Express, Autosport and AutoClassic magazines.