There are many sources of advice at hand if you’ve paid to have work done in the form of a repair to a vehicle and the Citizens Advice Bureau is but one of them. Their advice is:
If you take your car to a garage for a service or a repair
When you take your car to a garage for servicing or repair, you enter into a contract with the garage under the laws of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.
These laws give you certain rights. You are entitled to expect that the repair work is carried out:
- with reasonable care and skill – this means that the garage should carry out the work competently and to a standard expected of a garage of that type
- in a reasonable time – if there is no specific time agreed
- for a reasonable charge – if no fixed price was set in advance.
If a fault was not correctly diagnosed or was not repaired properly
If a fault was not correctly diagnosed or was not repaired properly, you should allow the garage the opportunity to fix it.
If the garage refuses to put things right
If the garage refuses to put things right, check whether they belong to a trade association with a code of practice setting out standards of service they must follow. You can use this to show the garage that they must put the problem right.
If negotiations fail, you could consider using an alternative dispute resolution scheme for settling out of court. Check to see if the trade association has such a scheme.
If the garage disputes the problem or can’t put things right, you can ask another garage to take a look at the car to assess the problem and provide a quote for the cost of work to put it right. This is to prove that the repairs or service need to be done. This second opinion might help you negotiate with the original garage for the problem to be fixed. Try to get this opinion in writing to support your claim. You will need to get a second opinion before you get the work done at another garage if you want to claim the costs back from the original garage.
You could also think about asking an independent engineer to provide a report on the condition of the car and its problems. It would be up to you to pay for this report. Be aware that if you ended up taking the garage to court, the judge might not read the report or award you compensation for the cost of carrying it out.
If this doesn’t work and you are on speaking terms with the original garage, you could negotiate to get a report from an independent garage or vehicle engineers. You would both need to agree on who provides this report, how the cost would be split and to be bound by the findings.
If replacement parts are faulty
If your vehicle needs replacement parts they must be of satisfactory quality. If the garage supplies faulty parts, you should be able to have the parts repaired or replaced at no cost to you.
For example, if your vehicle needs a new gearbox and the repair work was fine but the new gearbox was faulty, you could ask the garage to replace or repair the faulty gearbox free of charge.
If the garage charges for new parts but uses second-hand
If a garage uses replacement parts, the parts should match their description. If they don’t you can ask the garage to put this right. The most appropriate solution will depend on how severe the problem is and what would cause you the least inconvenience. Usually, the best option would be to ask for the parts to be replaced with new ones at no cost to you.
If the garage says they’ve replaced parts when they haven’t
If the garage says they’ve replaced parts when they haven’t, they may be committing a criminal offence. This is called taking part in an unfair commercial practice. If you suspect the garage of doing this, report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
If you’re not getting anywhere with the garage
If you’re not getting anywhere with the garage, find out whether they are a member of a trade association with a code of practice. If they are, you can show this to the garage to explain why they should put things right. The trade association may also offer a complaints process that you can follow.
If push comes to shove and you need an expert analysis of the problem to help you determine if you really do have a dispute with the garage over what they’ve done or an expert diagnosis of the cause of a fault caused by them to prove liability if you’re not getting enywhere by discussion or negotiation, I am usually able to get to the bottom of the problem and provide an evidentially strong CPR Compliant report which is the sort of format you’d need an Expert’s report to take in case the matter does become litigious even through just the small claims or Money Online track.
If you need, please feel free to contact me using my contact form or ring me on (07985) 420933 for an initial discussion and some free preliminary advice. If I feel I am able to help you I can take all the details of the matter and arrange an investigation or, if on the other hand I find I’m unable to help you any further or if I determine the size of the problem isn’t really worth pursuing with an expert analysis and report from me, you’ve lost nothing and gained a little direction on where to go and what to do next.