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Wills and Ellis - An Honest Garage

Updated on May 7, 2012

Driving North

I was driving North to Newcastle upon Tyne to visit an aged relation. She was nearly 91, and she had recently been in hospital. When I spoke to her on the telephone after her return from hospital she did not seem her normal sparky self. So I had to visit.

I was fully fuelled, checked oil and water, inflated tyres for the motorway, had lunch, and departed. My first port of call was a less aged relation who lived close to the motorway, and then I would spend the night with my brother and his family in Newcastle. I would see my very aged relative in her care home in the morning, and drive back to Yorkshire. A simple and pleasant journey taking about three hours each way.

About an hour into the journey I was driving up the M1 motorway, entirely content. I was North of the A 64 Harrogate to York road, which crosses the motorway.


I suddenly noticed a clanging noise coming from behind me, and I looked round to see which poor soul had vehicle trouble so noisy that even I could hear it. There were no cars anywhere near.

The clanging noise had become louder. I realised it had to be my car. The performance of the car was not affected, so it was almost certainly an exhaust problem. From the noise created the exhaust was still attached, which was a positive. Any repairs issues on the motorway tend to be expensive. I am a member of a car rescue service, but I did not want to use it. First, because I did not want to hang around until someone appeared and said "You have a problem with your exhaust". I could be waiting for some time because the company gives priority to women travelling alone.

The second reason for concern is that the rescue service send out a local garage to tow one to their base. And then the garage can charge you what they like.

The third reason for reluctance is that if you use the callout service the service becomes more expensive in future years.

So I slowed down, which immediately reduced the noise. I took the next exit from the motorway. I headed for York on the basis that there was bound to be a garage on any major road into a city like York. They would either be able to fix the problem, or they could make a temporary repair which would last me until I could find a cheap exhaust fitter. The clanging was paradoxically reassuring, because it suggested I had not lost anything yet.

I could in theory have pulled over somewhere safe. I could have waited for the exhaust to cool, and then I could have made a running repair myself. It was raining, and I really did not want to. I have few tools in the vehicle. I could see me messing about under the car for 20 minutes, and then still having to find a garage.

Wills and Ellis

Wills and Ellis are located at the junction of the A59 and the York outer ring road. In its present incarnation they have been operating as Wills and Ellis since 1964, and their web site shows photos of their garage when it was Wills Brothers in 1948. They have the garage, which has hydraulic ramps, the full electronic diagnostic systems, and is extremely clean. Next to that is the showroom, because they are dealers for Audi, Volkswagon, SEAT, and Skoda. And there is parking immediately in front. The next building is a normal petrol station and a large convenience stiore, also run by the family. Wills & Ellis are proud to be one of the few family run motor businesses in Yorkshire.

I gather that at other sites they have a significant commercial vehicle sales and repair operation.

I was going to pull in at the first garage, and Wills and Ellis were the garage. They happened to have a ramp free, so up my car went. It was my exhaust. It seemed that some rubber part which holds the exhaust to the car had snapped. The other connections had held, but the banging I had heard was gradually working the other connections loose. I was fortunate still to have all my exhaust.

Wills and Ellis did not have the parts for my make of car. They could not get them delivered today. They made a running repair, which involved fitting some metal clamping rings to the exhaust to stop the exhaust moving. The running repair would get me to Newcastle, and I could go to an exhaust specialist tomorrow.

The Bill

I am a lawyer by profession, so I expect to be paid for assessing a situation and advising. If I actually do something like writing a letter or making a teleohone call, of course I will charge. So what were Wills and Ellis going to charge for this "get you home" running repair? I was expecting between £25 and £75, plus 20% VAT.

The charge was "Nil". Nada. Nothing. These things happen with vehicles, and they were not going to charge me for a couple of metal rings and a mechanic's time. And the use of their facilities.

It was such a shock to find a non -gouging garage that I thought I ought to write this piece. If you use Wills and Ellis, they will treat you right. Their address is Poppletion Garage, Boroughbridge Road, York YO28 8QD


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    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 5 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      I really was stunned.

      And pleased.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Yer making this up, an honest garage?! :) It is so difficult to find an honest mechanic these days. Nice hub and entertainingly written. Voted up and all that. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      We could certainly use a Wills and Ellis clone in the U.S., Charles. Unbelievable!