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Car repairs

Fair dealing with a garage

AA Legal Assistance is available to Gold and Silver Members for personal legal advice on matters relating to vehicle use, motoring offences, accidents, or disputes with suppliers or garages. If you don't have access to AA Legal Assistance, contact your local Citizens Advice or other legal adviser.

Below are some general points and common issues that arise when dealing with garages. A basic understanding of the law can help you avoid a dispute in the first place, or help you decide if you need more formal and personal legal advice.

Being a good customer

There are two sides to every relationship and there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of something going wrong if you're dealing with a garage for car repairs or servicing such as trying to pick a quiet time if you need to discuss something, or being as specific as you can about what it is you want them to do.

Your contract with the garage

Whenever you instruct a garage to carry out repairs or other work, you enter into a contract with that garage.

Some of these contracts will be in writing but many are not. Generally it's best to put your instruction in writing if you can, as it will be easier to see what was agreed should there be any dispute later.

Whether written or oral, any contract contains both express and implied terms.

Express terms

The express terms of the contract are created when you instruct a garage to carry out a certain repair, and can be:

  • specific and confined to a particular fault (eg 'Fit new X brand fuel pump'), or
  • general (eg 'The engine's not running well, the brakes are hopeless and there are dreadful noises coming from the suspension; fix them for me')
Implied terms

In addition to any express terms agreed, implied terms are that:

  • parts must correspond with any description given
  • parts must be of satisfactory quality and reasonably fit for any particular purpose that has been specified
  • repairs will be carried out with reasonable care and skill and within a reasonable time
Motor Industry Code of Practice

Choosing a garage that has signed up to the Motor Industry Code of Practice for service and repair should ensure that you get:

  • an honest and fair service
  • clear pricing
  • repairs/service as agreed with you
  • repair costs which match the initial quote
  • staff who are well trained and keen to do the repair properly

If things do go wrong, Motor Codes provides a free consumer advice and conciliation service along with access to independent arbitration.


(Page updated 14 January 2013)