Garages and Mechanics: Car Repair in France


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Garages and Mechanics: Car Repair in France

Do you know your garagiste from your carrosserie? This brief guide will help you navigate your way through car repairs in France.

Where Can I Change My Car Tyres in France?

J’ai un pneu crevé – I have a flat tyre.

Whether you have a flat tyre or need to change your tyres as part of your biennial Control Technique, there are many garages available throughout France that will be able to do this. An online search is a good way to research prices for a variety of tyres, while asking local friends and neighbours is an equally good idea. Where would they recommend? Where do they take their car for tyre repairs?

The Yellow Pages is available for you to look up local tyre repair specialists and garages.

Equally, there are many national companies that will provide and fit tyres at your property, such as:


SOS Pneus

Most garages will supply and fit your tyres, but they may have to order them in. It may be possible to supply your own tyres and ask the garage to fit and balance them, but be sure to double-check and don’t assume that this will be ok.

Changing your car tyres in France

Be sure that you know your tyre reference code, which can be found on your current tyre or in your car handbook or online. Find out whether your car has a locking wheel nut – this is essential for the mechanic to be able to remove the tyre – and be aware that pneumatic devices to loosen nuts are not recommended for locking wheel nuts – they can wear the edges and then you may be presented with another repair issue later on.

Be prepared to replace both tyres at the same time (both front or both rear) – this is a legal requirement in France, so it’s unlikely that garages will only replace one tyre, unless the other one is almost brand new. Tread depth must not be less than 1.6mm by law. In reality, 4mm is a good recommendation for winter and 3mm minimum tread depth for summer driving. Gauges are available to buy to perform accurate readings.

Another thing to be aware of is that snow chains or winter snow tyres are a legal requirement in some departments – read more about that here.

Mechanical Issues: Finding a Mechanic or Garage in France

A garagiste usually deals with all mechanical issues whereas a carrosserie takes care of bodywork.

Large chains are easily found in major cities. However, small, well-established businesses can often provide more personalised customer service – especially if you live just down the road. An introduction from a friend or neighbour may help.

Some larger garages charge a fee to look at the vehicle and potentially diagnose any problems before issuing a devis (which is a quotation for work). Smaller businesses may not charge such a fee, but they should always issue a devis. Make sure you ask so that you know what to expect.

Combien cela va-t-il coûter, s’il vous plaît ? Pouvez-vous me donner un devis? – How much is that likely to cost and can you provide a quote, please?

A reliable, trustworthy mechanic is worth their weight in gold, so once you find one, hang on to them and recommend them to others!

Where to Get a Controle Technique in France?

The Control Technique is a vehicle inspection that determines if the vehicle is road-worthy – similar to the UK’s MOT – and is a legal requirement in France.

There are separate inspection centres for the CT in France. An internet search will return all centres in your local area. Currently, cars need inspecting every two years in France.

Je voudrais prendre rendez-vous pour ma Controle Technique, s’il vous plaît – I would like to book an appointment for my CT please.

Read more in our guide to Controle Techniques in France: What Car Owners Need to Know

Driving in France

Whether you own a car in France, travel to France in your UK or EU-registered car, or hire a rental car – FrenchEntrée has all the need-to-know info about driving in France. Our Essential Reading articles will take you through buying, registering, and insuring your car, as well as offering tips and advice on driving and car ownership in France.

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Carol, a teacher from Hurworth in Darlington, lives in Charente in South-West France, where she runs La Grue Gites with her family.