We get a lot of questions from drivers who’ve bought cars only for them to go wrong. But what are your rights if you have body or paintwork repairs done to a car that aren’t satisfactory?
Our reader paid £2,000 to have a paint blister on the wheel arch repaired. He also had all four wheels sandblasted. But the rust quickly reappeared and when he complained the garage claimed it doesn’t guarantee rust work. Has he wasted his money?
Before the paintwork repairs were done
Our reader doesn’t say whether his job was outlined on paper. However, this is always a sensible move. The document should state exactly what the problem is that the garage is trying to fix and how it will go about doing it to ensure it solves the problem permanently. Having something in writing helps if there is a later dispute.
We would also suggest that you deal with a garage that will guarantee all the work it does. Simply saying it doesn’t give any warranty for work on rust isn’t good enough. If it can’t guarantee that the work it does will solve the problem, it shouldn’t be charging money for it.
How to deal with a problem
Speak directly with the garage. It may be reasonable and agree to revisit the repairs. You should write it a letter or send an email so that you have a record of the complaint.
If it doesn’t believe there is a problem, or doesn’t answer you within a reasonable amount of time, you should go a step further.
What does the law say?
Any work that’s done to your car should be carried out with ‘reasonable care and skill’. If you can prove that this wasn’t the case, you have the right to get the work done again. If the work wasn’t done properly you have a legal right to a price reduction.
But how do you prove that the work wasn’t carried out with reasonable care? Our expert thinks the proof is there on your car. But you need to get an expert second opinion. We suggest you ask the garage that did the work to agree on a garage or independent vehicle engineer that does the report.
If it doesn’t want to know, you could get another garage to inspect the work and provide you with a written report. This report should be evidence that the work wasn’t done properly with reasonable care and skill.
You can then use this to attempt to get the garage to either give you some money back or agree to do the repair again.
Does the garage belong to a trade body?
If the garage does belong to a trade body such as the Motor Ombudsman or the Retail Motor Industry Federation, take the dispute to it and ask its conciliation service to mediate.
If the garage doesn’t agree, ask if it’s a member of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. In this case, a third party will try to mediate.
The last step should be taking the garage to court. The most important thing if you go this far is to have as much evidence as possible from independent third parties supporting your case that the garage’s work wasn’t carried out properly.