SERVICING AND MAINTAINING YOUR VEHICLE
Regularly maintaining your car could save you money over time. More importantly, you will also be making sure your car is safe on the road. Find out how to choose a car mechanic and what to do if you have a problem.
Your consumer rights
Car mechanics are providing a service by carrying out repairs and supplying goods by fitting new parts. This means you are covered by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
The law says that any goods supplied must be of satisfactory quality. Any services you buy must be:
- carried out with reasonable care and skill
- carried out within a reasonable time and at a reasonable charge (if no charge is agreed in advance)
What ‘reasonable’ means will be different in each case. If you have a problem, you may need to get advice about what ‘reasonable’ means in your situation (see links below).
Choosing a garage
Try to choose a garage that belongs to a code of practice such as the Motor Codes Limited Code for Service and Repair. Another scheme is the Office of Fair Trading’s code of practice, this is run by the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association.
You could also ask your friends and family if they have any recommendations. You should also get a quote (a fixed price) for any work from a few garages before making your choice.
A good garage will:
- only do work that they are qualified to do
- be signed up to a ‘code of practice’, eg by belonging to a trade association
- give clear details of repair options and costs
- agree any work with you and put it in writing
- give written quotes
- give written estimates if quotes aren’t possible - an estimate will give you the price that you will most likely have to pay
- include VAT (Value Added Tax) in any quote or estimate
Collecting your car
A good garage won’t replace unworn parts, but will tell you when they will probably need replacing. If there have been replacements, ask to view the old parts and check that:
- the bill is for the agreed amount or isn’t a lot more than any estimate you were given
- the work and parts are written on your bill, this is so you have a proof of purchase if there are any problems
- the details on any new MOT certificate are correct and the certificate has been correctly stamped with the garage’s details
- the car’s service record book has been stamped with the garage’s stamp and the details of the service are correct
Download the car servicing leaflet for more advice on taking your car to a mechanic.
What to do if your car has not been repaired of serviced properly
If you have a complaint, contact the garage as soon as possible. If you are still unhappy and the garage is a member of a trade association or a code of practice, you can take the matter to them. They may have an independent dispute settlement service.
If you have a dispute over work on a new car under warranty, the car manufacturer should be able to help. Most new car sales in the UK are covered by the Motor Codes New Cars Code which includes a dispute settlement service.