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 repair 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. 

In this article, we will explore what you can do if your mechanic doesn't fix your car and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your vehicle. 

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

Step 1 - Your rights 

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

If the problem persists after the repair has been made, you can seek a remedy. This remedy can come in the form of 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 swiftly remedy the issue.  

If they don't agree to correct the issue right away, you should write or email the garage. This is to keep a record of the situation and your correspondence with them. 

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 is not permitted to sell or dispose of the vehicle. They can, however, retain your car during the dispute. 

Before you spend any 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 that you did not use. 

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

Pay the garage to get your car back 

If you need the car back but are unhappy with the price, you can pay 'under protest' and then 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 receipt copies 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. 

Use a trade association to negotiate 

If your problem cannot be handled, investigate whether the garage is a member of any trade organisation (for example, The Motor Ombudsman, the Retail Motor Industry Federation, or the Motor Cycle Industry Association). You could also check the websites of trade associations to determine if the garage is a member. 

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. for being out of pocket or having your time wasted). 

Contact the trade association and explain your situation - this is sometimes referred to as a 'conciliation service'. A trade association will only be able to assist you if the garage is a member. 

Use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme 

Inquire 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 asked them if they don't respond, aren't part of an ADR scheme, or won't utilise an ADR. If you end up in court, you'll need this. 

Take the car to another garage 

This 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 is no guarantee that you will receive your money back. 

You may be able to take the automobile to another garage. But, it will depend on how much work the original shop has previously completed and whether your automobile is safe to drive.  

Report the garage to trading standards 

You can report the garage to Trading Standards if they quote one price but charge another. Or otherwise, using misleading advertising or unfair tactics. Reporting the garage may mean that future clients are not misled by them. 

How long is reasonable for a car repair?

The length of time it takes to repair a car can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issue. In general, a car repair should take no more than a few days. If the repair is taking longer than expected, it is important to communicate with the mechanic. This way, you can find out what is causing the delay. 

Related: How long should car repairs take?

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

If you have paid for a repair service but your car is still not fixed, you have the right to expect a refund. Or, the mechanic should fix the problem at no additional cost to you.  

If the mechanic refuses to do either, you may need to take further action as detailed above. 

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

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

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

You can 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. 

File a complaint with the manufacturer. If the problem is widespread and the dealership is unable to 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. 

My car was damaged by the garage during a service 

If your car was damaged while it was at 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 respraying 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 that they are not responsible for any damage. This is an 'unfair term,' which means they are still accountable. You should inform them of this. 

If the garage refuses to do the repairs, contact the garage's insurance company, the trade association, or the car manufacturer for assistance. If the garage refuses to accept liability and you have to file a claim with your insurance, your no-claims bonus may be affected, so check with your insurer. 

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 it may necessitate more time and money spent on correcting the problem. If this occurs, it is critical to contact the mechanic and seek a remedy. 

You may be able to claim for the damage on your car insurance. This depends 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 and see if you can get them to pay for the repairs. They are not, however, legally required to do so. 

How to find a reputable garage  

Bumper’s wide network of approved partners are vetted and approved. Plus, Bumper offers zero per cent interest financing for car repairs, to help get you back on the road as quickly as possible. 

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