Consumer Protection When Garages Don’t Fix Faults First Time

Sunday, 31. July 2011

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

Years ago, when I always bought used cars, and had a mechanical problem I used to dread going into a garage and explaining the fault because I knew I would be met by a sharp intake of breath by the mechanic and ‘Do you want me to do a quick bodge job or do you want me to sort it out properly?’ After which he would explain the problem in technical terms that I couldn’t possibly understand and ended up with a bill that was nearly the cost of the car. But these days with all the consumer protection about one would think that it would be harder for the garage to rip you off.

So when a reader of Autoexpress had problems with his car and took it to the main dealer to get it fixed because a warning light had told him to wouldn’t you think that they could diagnose the fault fairly quickly.

There was obviously something built into the warning system that identified the fault and lit up the warning light. But according to the Skoda dealer that the reader used to carry out the repair, having already spent £1,400 on a replacement EGR and new cat, that he needed to have the engine de-coked at a further cost of £1,000.

Autoexpress asked a solicitor and he said ‘It’s not unreasonable for a garage to charge for work that fails to fix a fault – as long as it’s conducting the diagnosis and repair with reasonable care and skill.

This doesn’t always mean a first-time cure, but that it is trying the most likely solutions first.’ Excuse me? OK I’m off on one again! Skoda said that they believed that the dealer followed the correct steps (well they would wouldn’t they) but offered a 50% reduction on the bill as John, the reader, was a loyal customer.

So here’s my gripe. They first of all changed the EGR, Exhaust Gas Recirculation unit which didn’t solve the problem so it would seem that he now has a new EGR on his car that he didn’t need. Then they changed the Cat Converter, that didn’t work either so he now has a new Cat that he actually didn’t need!

They now think a de-coke is needed but they’re not certain. So why not change a couple of tyres whilst they’re at it, he probably doesn’t need those either but you never know. So who decides whether what they have done is ‘reasonable care and skill’ or total incompetence.

Was there no way to check whether the EGR and Cat were faulty before changing them and when the new parts didn’t fix the problem should they not have fitted the old parts back on as they weren’t necessary.

If you have a bit of back pain the surgeon doesn’t whip out a kidney because it might be the source of the problem, he checks the condition of the kidney first, or one would hope so. So why do different rules apply. There is something badly wrong when it comes to the way cars are repaired in this country if they can get away with that.

I’d be tempted to take action in the small claims court as I think your being mugged John. Any views? By Graham Hill

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