From damage to your car to overcharging for car repairs and aggressive sales tactics, we explain your rights when things go wrong at the garage.
My car has been damaged
When you take your car into a garage, it's protected under the law of bailment, which says that anyone you entrust with your property has a responsibility to take reasonable care of it.
If they fall short of this, they're responsible for any damage or loss incurred while your car is in their possession.
In addition, the Consumer Rights Act (which replaces the Supply of Goods and Services Act from 1 October 2015) says that your garage must provide its service with reasonable care and skill and will be responsible for any damaged caused if it doesn't.
Garages might display notices denying responsibility for loss or damage to vehicles in their possession.
But under the Consumer Rights Act, which replaces the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999, these can't be used to try and take away, limit or restrict your legal rights.
Whatever the cause, it’s very unlikely that a court would uphold a garage’s claim to be exempt from all responsibility.
Should your car be damaged, you can claim compensation for the loss or damage and potentially, reasonable expenses incurred as a result, such as the cost of alternative transport while your car was off the road.
Before incurring such costs, give the garage a chance to cover them or help with your arrangements.
Use our template letter to complain about damage to your vehicle while at a garage.
- Under the law of bailment, the garage is responsible for any loss or damage that occurs to your car while in its possession.
- If your garage has overcharged you, you're only obliged to pay for the work that was agreed.
- If the garage has misled you, or you feel you were coerced into doing business, you have a right to take action.
My garage has overcharged me
You’re only obliged to pay for the work that you've agreed to so to avoid any problems, always make sure you have a written quotation.
If you agreed to the work but didn’t agree the price beforehand, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 ensures that you're only obliged to pay a ‘reasonable price’ for the work.
If you had the garage repairs before 1 October 2015, then the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 provides the same protection.
You can demonstrate that a price is unreasonable by getting quotations from other garages, or from a motoring organisation.
You are also protected from hidden charges by the Consumer Rights Act, as it requires all charges relating to the service to be clearly brought to your attention otherwise they constitute an unfair term in the contract and may be set aside.
Payment 'under protest'
If you’re forced to pay in order to access your car, make it clear in writing that you're paying under protest so you have a clear record when it comes to seeking resolution.
This may be through the courts or any alternative dispute resolution scheme available through a trade association, for example the Motor Ombudsman.
If you spent more than £100 and paid using a credit card, you may have a claim against your card provider.
If your card company won't settle the claim, try taking it to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Use our template letter if you want to dispute excessive garage charges.
My garage has ripped me off
If you fall victim to an unscrupulous garage, report it to your local Trading Standards department.
You may have found that the work hasn't been done. This is a breach of contract and you can refuse to pay.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPR) means that the following actions are an offence:
Making misleading statements about products and services, for example claiming to 'only fit genuine parts' when the product you receive is a non-branded addition to your car.
This applies if a garage is economical with the truth, hides key information when making a sale, or fails to provide information in a timely manner.
If your garage won’t take no for an answer or you feel threatened, then the garage may have committed an offence.
If the garage has signed up to the Motor Ombudsman, report any of these practices to them as the garage will have breached this code too.
Use our step-by-step guide if you want to complain about poor garage service.