Dealing with a garage

Dos and don'ts to reduce the risk of something going wrong

you want a reliable garage that will provide an honest and fair service without overcharging you or doing work that wasn't required

you want a reliable garage that will provide an honest and fair service without overcharging you or doing work that wasn't required

If you need to get some work done on your car you want a reliable garage that will provide an honest and fair service without overcharging you or doing work that wasn't required.

But even if you’re dealing with the best garage in the country there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of something going wrong.

Do

  • Do look for a garage that has signed up to an OFT approved code of practice like the Motor Industry Code of Practice
  • Do get a firm quotation or written estimate (whenever practical) before authorising repairs – especially if these are substantial.
  • Do get several quotes/estimates if you can - garage labour rates vary and this will help you check that the price is fair.
  • Do make it clear if you need the car back by a specific time/date but give the garage a reasonable amount of time to complete the work.
  • Do bear in mind a garage can charge for work involved in preparing an estimate (unless agreed otherwise), if you withdraw your instructions.
  • Do leave a telephone number with the garage with instructions to contact you for further authorisation if unexpected work becomes necessary.
  • Do leave a written note explaining the fault/symptoms and try to speak direct to the mechanic who will be carrying out the work.
  • Do understand that problems can arise and repair costs increase, even when the mechanic is working with care and following the correct procedures.
  • Do give the garage an opportunity to correct a repair that turns out to be faulty - subject to your right to arrange for the work to be carried out elsewhere and claim the cost from the first repairer.
  • Do contact your local authority trading standards department if you think you may have been a victim of unfair trading practices.

Don't

  • Don't stop payment of your cheque (after it's issued) for unsatisfactory work without taking legal advice.
  • Don't expect faults to be diagnosed for nothing - but the garage should be able to give you an estimate of time/cost  required and possible repair options.
  • Don't remove your car from the garage (unless authorised) while payment is still outstanding.
  • Don't lose your temper – good calm and clear communication is essential
  • Don't expect miracles – intermittent faults can be very difficult to pin down, and components can break when being dismantled no matter how much care is being taken.
  • Don't buy parts from one company and ask another to fit them. Two separate contracts mean that, if the part is faulty, you may have to pay the company that fitted it to remove it.

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

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

(15 January 2013)