What If The Mechanic Doesn't Fix My Car?

What If The Mechanic Doesn't Fix My Car?

Having your car repaired can be a frustrating experience, especially when the mechanic doesn’t actually fix the car! This can result in more time, money, and stress spent trying to resolve the issue.  

If you have a problem with a car repair or service, the best thing to do is negotiate the best solution with the garage. If your negotiations fail, you can take additional steps to resolve your issue.  

This article will explore what you can do if you paid for a car repair, but the car wasn’t fixed and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your vehicle. Let’s dive straight into it. 

I paid for a car repair but it’s not fixed  

So, you’ve paid for a repair, but it’s not fixed. Now what? 

You can expect a refund if you have paid for a repair service, but your car has still not been fixed. Or, the mechanic should fix the problem at no additional cost to you.   

If the mechanic refuses to do either, you may need further action. 

It’s important to remember the specific instructions before accusing a garage of charging for nothing. Diagnostic services cost money, time, and expertise, such as when a complex issue is present.  

What happens if the dealership can't fix your car in the UK? 

You should consult your vehicle's warranty. If your car is still under warranty, the dealership may be obligated to fix the problem at no cost.  

You can also take your car to another dealership or a reputable independent mechanic for a second opinion. If the problem is confirmed, you may be able to negotiate a better solution with the first dealership. Note that you’ll have to pay a diagnostic fee, as mechanics don’t give second opinions for free.  

File a complaint with the manufacturer. If the problem is widespread and the dealership can't fix it, you may want to file a complaint with the manufacturer's customer service department. They may offer a solution or a goodwill repair.  

What to do when the mechanic doesn't fix the problem  

If you’ve realised the mechanic hasn’t fixed the initial problem, it can be tough to know where to start. Here are three steps you can take if your mechanic hasn’t fixed your car. 

Step 1 - Your rights  

Before taking any action, it is crucial to understand your rights. If you have paid for a repair service, you can expect the problem to be fixed.   

If the problem persists after the repair has been made, you can seek a remedy, which can be a repair or a refund.  

Step 2 - Contact the mechanic/garage  

The first step in dealing with a mechanic is to contact them and explain the problem. Speak with the garage in person or over the phone; you may be able to remedy the issue swiftly.   

If they don't agree to correct the issue right away, you should write or email the garage. This is to record the situation and your correspondence with them. A paper trail is essential if the situation escalates! 

Step 3 - Take further action  

If you're having trouble with the garage, you have alternatives for getting the work done or claiming compensation. However, you should always try to negotiate with the garage first.   

While you are disputing the bill, the garage cannot sell or dispose of the vehicle. They can, however, retain your car during the dispute.  

Before spending more money on rental cars or travelling, always ask your garage what they can do to assist you. For example, they may be able to provide you with a courtesy car. A court is unlikely to award you money if the garage provides services you did not use.  

When disputing a charge, it's a good idea to keep a record of any extra money you have to pay for travel, as well as receipts. You may need to prove this later on.  

Other steps you can take if you paid for a car repair but the car wasn’t fixed 

Here are some additional steps if your repair wasn’t fixed. These may not apply to all scenarios, so check whether each tip is relevant to your situation before acting. 

1. Pay the garage to get your car back  

We understand the last thing you want to do is pay for an unfixed car.  

However, if you need the car back but are unhappy with the price, you can pay 'under protest' and continue your case. This indicates you are paying the whole cost but informing the garage that further action is likely.  

Write "paid under protest" clearly on their copy of the repair order form and any copies of receipts made by the garage. If you do not state that you are paying under protest, it will be difficult to obtain reimbursement later on because the garage may argue that by paying the bill, you accepted the charges. 

There's no assurance you'll receive your money back afterwards, but it isn't impossible. If you can't afford to pay, offer to pay a modest sum in exchange for the car's return, then dispute the balance of the invoice separately.  

2. Use a trade association to negotiate  

Investigate whether the garage is a trade organisation member (for example, The Motor Ombudsman, the Retail Motor Industry Federation, or the Motor Cycle Industry Association). These organisations can help settle disputes, and you can usually find affiliations on the garage’s website. 

Some trade groups will provide a free service to assist you in resolving your disagreement with the garage, which may include obtaining reimbursement (e.g. being out of pocket or wasting your time).  

Contact the trade association and explain your situation—this is sometimes referred to as a 'conciliation service'. However, an association can only assist you if the garage is a member.  

3. Use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme  

Enquire if the garage is a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system. This is a method of resolving problems without going to court. A third party will mediate to try to reach an agreement. 

Keep a record of when you ask them if they don't respond, aren't part of an ADR scheme, or won't utilise an ADR. You’ll need these details if you do end up in court. 

4. Take the car to another garage  

Going to another garage is a dangerous alternative because you'll almost certainly need to go to court or a trade association to be reimbursed for the extra money you spent on the work. There's also no guarantee that you will receive your money back.  

Some cars won't be able to go to another garage due to safety concerns. Assess whether your vehicle is safe to drive before attempting to drive it. 

5. Report the garage to trading standards  

You can report the garage to Trading Standards if they quote one price but charge another.  

You can also report misleading advertising or unfair tactics. Reporting the garage may mean that they do not mislead future clients, but it won’t help your current situation. 

How long is reasonable for a car repair? 

Generally, a car repair should take a few days.  

However, the time it takes to repair a car can vary greatly depending on the issue's complexity. 

If the repair is taking longer than expected, it is essential to communicate with the mechanic to find out what is causing the delay.  

Related: How long should car repairs take? 

My car was damaged by the garage during a service  

If your car was damaged in the garage, you should try to get them to pay for the repairs. It's best to point out the damages as soon as possible. Otherwise, you'll be perceived as having accepted what's happened.  

The most they have to provide is the cost of repairing the damage. For example, if somebody scratched your car door, they should cover the expense of repairing the door rather than purchasing a new door.  

To bolster your argument, you can prove that you know your legal rights. Remind them that you're aware that "traders have a responsibility of care under the Consumer Rights Act 2015."  

The garage may put a notice on their property stating they are not responsible for any damage. This is an 'unfair term,' which means they are still accountable. You should inform them of this.  

How to assess the damage from a car service 

If you suspect damage from a car service, you need to stay calm and collected. Rash decisions can go against you in the future. Here are some steps you can take to assess the damage: 

  • Visually inspect the interior and exterior. Take photos of any damage. 
  • If safe, take the car for a test drive and look for vibrations, handling issues, steering responsiveness, and unusual noises. 
  • If you have an OBD-II scanner, use it to check for error codes. 
  • Compare with pre-service photos (if taken). 
  • Document all noticed changes. 

Some car owners take photos and notes of their cars before services to act as a comparison afterwards. This can be helpful for future services. 

What to do if the garage refuses to make repairs 

Contact the garage's insurance company, the trade association, or the car manufacturer for assistance if they refuse to make repairs.  

If the garage refuses to accept liability and you must file a claim with your insurance, your no-claims bonus may be affected, so also check with your insurer.  

What if the mechanic created a new problem?  

A mechanic may introduce a new problem while attempting to repair an existing one. This can be aggravating and may necessitate more time and money spent on correcting the problem. If this occurs, contacting the mechanic and seeking a remedy is critical. 

You may be able to claim for the damage on your car insurance, depending on the type of insurance you have. If you do, you may forfeit your no-claims bonus. You might also contact the garage's insurance carrier to get them to pay for the repairs. They are not, however, legally required to do so.  

How to find a reputable garage - Final thoughts 

After paying for car repairs but not receiving a satisfying fix, you might want to avoid garages and mechanics for a while. However, don’t forget that plenty of reputable garages exist. 

Take the stress out of car repairs with Bumper’s expert connections and customer-centred financing. 

Bumper’s wide network of approved partners is vetted and approved. Plus, Bumper offers zero-interest financing for car repairs to help get you back on the road as quickly as possible. Enter your postcode and registration plate to find an approved garage near you. 

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