Home > Complaint Case Studies > Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

Complaint About Car Repairs and Servicing: A Case Study

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 30 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Repairs Service Complain Complaints Car

The benefits of a car can often be outweighed by the headache of securing a good standard of repairs and servicing, as this case study attests.

Cheated By The Garage

Finding a reliable garage to carry out service and repair work on a car can be very difficult. Not knowing whether they are receiving a professional service or not, consumers are often at the mercy of car mechanics who sometimes exploit their ignorance with shoddy workmanship and bad practice.

Of the total number of complaints to Consumer Direct last year, car servicing and repairs accounted for just below 2%. However, although every year tens of thousands of customers complain about work not being completed, repairs being overlooked and about being charged for incomplete work, there are likely many more unaware they are being cheated.

The Filter Trap

When Donal left his car at a Belfast car dealership for its 40,000-mile service, he was well aware of the risks of taking a vehicle to a mechanic in UK. For this reason, he decided to perform his own little test. By marking the vehicle’s engine filters, he could check to see if they were changed afterwards to assess whether the service work had been carried out properly.

Upon completion of the service, the Newcastle native was handed a bill of around £275, which detailed charges relating to the filters. However, upon checking the marks made on the air and fuel filters, he found them to be still there. The work had not been done.

To add insult to injury, the bill also included a charge for the fitting of a new rear windscreen wiper even though the car didn’t even have one.

Complaint And Compensation

As a result of the filter ‘trap’, Donal knew immediately he had been cheated, and so demanded to speak to the manager. He was promptly given a reduced bill of £175 and told that there had been a mix-up between the service and receptionist. He was also offered £50 off his next car service.

Unwilling to accept the situation as an unfortunate human error, Donal brushed off the sweetener and contacted Trading Standards. The dealership later pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Customer Vulnerability

The case study highlights how vulnerable consumers are when it comes to car servicing and repairs. They rely completely on the diligence of the mechanic to ensure the work is carried out properly. Donal was only able to spot the bad practice because he set up a trap for the dealership. Most customers would have been oblivious to the incomplete service and paid the money.

The dealership was charged because it is a criminal offence to make a false claim about work carried out. Serious offenders face prosecution, whilst those who fail to a lesser extent face warnings.

The Right To Complain

However, it was only through Donal’s ingenuity and basic knowledge of car maintenance that he was able to present a watertight case against the dealership. Most customers find it difficult to prove they have been cheated by a garage, and find their complaints often get them nowhere.

Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, consumers have a right to complain if the service or repair work is not carried out with reasonable care and skill, in a reasonable time, and for a reasonable price.

Trading Standards will offer advice on what to do if you believe you have been the victim of substandard car repairs or servicing. They may also investigate the offending garage on your behalf.

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Car taking few minutes to start and a white smoke is coming and engine oil getting dirty in 1k k/m. And taking havey accelerate while traffic. What to do solve these issues.
Pavi - 30-Apr-17 @ 5:32 PM
My renault grande scenic was acting up on starting then warning and service light'check injectors' came on, took to lical mechanic who did diagnostic test came back with injectors again. Paid £515 to have the 4 injectors replaced - next day after getting car back still not startingproperly in fact worse - help ?!
The boss - 10-Apr-17 @ 7:38 PM
Hi We have had our car (2013 plate) for less than 3 years, 2 weeks ago, out of the blue the car broke down (issue with the coolant) and wouldn't start. It got towed to the dealership where we bought it from. They have told us that it needs a new engine. The car has low mileage and we have had the car serviced by the dealership each year and no-one else has touched the engine. The dealership say that the fault is not ours, as nothing we would have done could have caused such catastrophic damage, we also checked whether it could have been down to pot holes and they said no. This suggests to me that the fault was there when we bought the car, or has 'developed' since then and the mechanics servicing the car haven't picked up on it. The dealership have offered to pay 25% of the repair bill but we are arguing that they should cover the whole cost of the bill - do we have a case?
Penguin - 30-Mar-17 @ 5:14 AM
Hi, I have recently had fitted a new front spring a clutch and flywheel and a new cam belt and water pump in my 2004 golf. Having recieved the car back, it wasn't running right at all so I took it back and they advised me that the car was like that prior to having done the work????! Should the garage not have said we have took it for a test drive and it's not running right, do you still want to have the work done? It's now 4 weeks later and the car is getting worse. I took it back to the garage to complain again and they have now said it needs a thousand pound more work doing in the space of 4 weeks since spending £1000. I feel totally robbed as I believe if they test drivethe car and knew it wasn't right yet still did the repairs without informing me it was going to cost me more money to get right. Is there anything I can do? Thanks
Toots! - 2-Mar-17 @ 3:19 PM
Who do I put a complain in with over a mechanic passing cars mot without seeing the car for extra money
kiaus2014 - 25-Feb-17 @ 10:20 PM
Please please please help. My gad had problems starting. If I parked car reverse on drive it started fine. Anyway there was possibly egr fault. My clutch started slipping. I took to a garage who advertised by citreon BMW n Peugeot specialists. I first had my brakes done. 2 days later I was booked in for slipping clutch. The car was high revs. Anyway it went into garage. After having clutch done I noticed engine was vibrating really bad. Took back to garage and he secured hose pipe with cable tie. I took it back day after as engine was not like that b; I took it in. He tried to secure with more cable tie. I told him to do job properly. He took my car. Said : of mounts were broke so he replaced. I got my car home and still not right. Fresh oil all over under bonnet. I took back. He passed my car onto a friend of his who was Peugeot specialist. He said I had egr faults n I had oil leak which had bn there for ages. That is untrue. He fixed injection pipe oil leak which I did not ask him to do. I then got told to get a better car. Now my car engine is vibrating smoking n rattling. I'm getting full inspection off AA do hopefully get proof garage messed up. Anyone got any advice please. My car is no longer driveable
Sick as a chip - 27-Jan-17 @ 11:54 AM
My ignition barrel on my car started to stick, I took my car to a garage they said it needed a new barrel they said it would take three to four days for the part to come ,I asked them to order the part, in the meantime the ignition barrel rectified the problem ,the garage three weeks later rang me to say the part had just arrived ! I no longer need the part what can i do about it .
Smithy - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:47 PM
My Mondeo had a new clutch fitted, The original one lasted 140,000 miles.
butch - 26-Dec-16 @ 10:16 AM
Hi i recently brought a mini in august that had aclutch done at snows had vibrations coming from the clutch been told by 3 other garages its the clutch took it bk to snows they said i would have to wait 4 weeks nearly to have it fixed but it is basically undriveable need advice please
Roxy - 13-Dec-16 @ 6:06 PM
I had my mercedes serviced at mercedes benz Temple Fortune London NW11 While it was being serviced they phoned me to say they had damaged my car by jet washing it. Paint the size of a small hand had come off. It cad been repaired 2 years previously by Mercedes Brentford. There was a small damage since then on the same panel but I foot away and some scuffing on the bumper. They have offered to pay half of the repair. Which I find unfair. They deny responsibility making excuses that water has come through the paintwork and loosened the original repair. I tried Mercedes head office who raised the issue but could do nothing else useful. I should go to a London lawyer, can you help. I do not know how to proceed
Jaq - 7-Dec-16 @ 11:00 AM
Please help! My boyfriends motor scooter broke down last week and he took it to the garage he bought it from for repair. When he went to pick it up they charged him £115 for a service! But they hadn't noticed that it had a problem - they hadn't fixed anything! (Just thinking they must have turned it on and noticed it wasn't working properly??) So my boyfriend paid them for a service he didn't ask for and left the bike there to now get fixed. They are now trying to charge him an extra £200 to fix the clutch that it went in for I the first place! Should he have to pay for the service (and the spark plugs/filter/anything else they did) that he didn't ask for? Where do we stand? Thank you!
LauraG - 11-Oct-16 @ 10:41 PM
2/10/2016 Hi need some advice I took my car to a garage for a new cluch end of July..8 weeks ago...other day noticed a burning smell and cluch slipping looked under my car oil dripping all over took the car to the garage who did the cluch...he's come up with its faulty gear box...I have never had any gearbox trouble until the cluch was fittedI've got a feeling this as happened when the cluch was fitted any advice please
Deb - 2-Oct-16 @ 8:08 AM
Kaz14 - Your Question:
24/09/2016.had my RCZ now for 3 years and love it. Yesterday took it in for a full service and MOT to the Peugeot dealer I bought it from. Picked it up 4hrs later and jumped in to take it home. I pulled out of the parking bay only to hear a really bad grinding noise to the front and found the front wheels are rubbing the front bumper. On full lock the wheels are grinding and rubbing the front housing. It's undrivable and so I left it at the garage and refused to take it off the forecourt. I now have a courtesy car until Monday but I'm wondering how and what has happened to my beautiful car.If I'd driven it off the forecourt and brought it back with this complaint I bet I would have been accused of damaging it myself so m glad I had the sense to leave it there. What they will say on Monday is a real worry and what they will do to. Will keep you posted. Kaz14.

Our Response:
We hope it is nothing too serious, thankfully you did the right thing by leaving it where it was.
ComplaintExpert - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:38 AM
24/09/2016......had my RCZ now for 3 years and love it. Yesterday took it in for a full service and MOT to the Peugeot dealer I bought it from. Picked it up 4hrs later and jumped in to take it home. I pulled out of the parking bay only to hear a really bad grinding noise to the front and found the front wheels are rubbing the front bumper. On full lock the wheels are grinding and rubbing the front housing. It's undrivable and so I left it at the garage and refused to take it off the forecourt. I now have a courtesy car until Monday but I'm wondering how and what has happened to my beautiful car. If I'd driven it off the forecourt and brought it back with this complaint I bet I would have been accused of damaging it myself so m glad I had the sense to leave it there. What they will say on Monday is a real worry and what they will do to. Will keep you posted. Kaz14.
Kaz14 - 25-Sep-16 @ 8:45 AM
Need a little advice ? I dropped my car off at a garage on 22nd of April..........As it had an engine rattle at 2000 rpm..........I explained the problem in detail to the lad behind the service desk........ And told him to call me when they had diagnosed the problem........When they first called me 4 days later they said the rattle could'nt be heard......I explained the problem again.........And the following day he rang again...Saying YES we can hear it.........And the car needs a set of Hydraulic lifters in the top of the engine............I agreed the cost and said YES..........change the parts.............Approx 10 days later the garage called and said the car is ready..............I went to collect it......paid....and got in the car..............It still rattled....And the car was runningbadly......(The car was running fine when I dropped it off and just had the engine rattle at 2000 rpm).......I left the car with the garage..............And 4 days later, they still have it.......I have already paid them £565.....Parts and labour.......Am I right in thinking that due to the fault being misdiagnosed they now have to put the car right at no additional cost to myself ? The parts put in the engine cost £220....... But because the problem is still there and the engine still rattles I'd say it did'nt need the parts.. UPDATE.........Various calls later and one today (14.06.2016) The garage rang again and said they cannot get the car to idle correctly and the engine still rattles).........But yet they want me to take the car away.....Drive it.......And see if the idle problem solves itself........It sounds to me as though they just want rid of me as a customer..........Plus I would still be left with the original engine rattle fault........... Should I go and collect the car.......Or would that be a mistake ? Would appreciate some advice as soon as possible please......As they are expecting me to take my faulty car away within a few days....Many thanks
steve2748 - 16-Jun-16 @ 9:46 PM
Please help! I had my car in the garage on 2nd June as I had a bad power stearing leak, garage called to say I needed a full stearing rack at a cost of £312.00 I agreed to have it done as I was going on holiday on the 4th June and needed the car to be safe to get us there. I picked car up from garage on 3rd (they had it overnight). I went away for the week only using my car to dive there and back, didn't use it for the week I was there. To my horror as I turned into my street the whining noise was there like before. I checked my power stearing fluid and it was completely empty! I've refilled the fluid and it's leaking out.
Cathd - 12-Jun-16 @ 5:23 AM
Hi. Please give me an advice. My mum was driven her car and the overheat light switch on then it switch off. She brought it to the garage and the mechanic told iss a gasket. She left her car for a temp repair then he said he cant fix as it wont work and need to do bigger repair for 500£ her car was not value that much so he offered a swap of a car(fixed and fully working car) and some money towards it. She accepted as she "trust him". When she drove the car home I noticed white smoke(he said because the car was not in use and its normal).when i opened the bonned there was a hissing sound as was raining so basicly its over heated engine(the car was just in use for 15min).the smoke still continouse. When i looked throught papers i found a garage service notice(belong to previous owner)that the motor suffered major internal damage due to overheat and is not economical for repair. I phone the garage and he didnt pick the call i message him about the smoke and engine(didnt mention the note) im willing to take the car to other garage today to check it but Im really feel sorry for my mum she spend a lot of her hard earned moneys and I m really worry if there is anything we can do about it. Please help thank you
Wio - 30-Apr-16 @ 9:29 AM
Hi. Please give me an advice. My mum was driven her car and the overheat light switch on then it switch off. She brought it to the garage and the mechanic told iss a gasket. She left her car for a temp repair then he said he cant fix as it wont work and need to do bigger repair for 500£ her car was not value that much so he offered a swap of a car(fixed and fully working car) and some money towards it. She accepted as she "trust him". When she drove the car home I noticed white smoke(he said because the car was not in use and its normal).when i opened the bonned there was a hissing sound as was raining so basicly its over heated engine(the car was just in use for 15min).the smoke still continouse. When i looked throught papers i found a garage service notice(belong to previous owner)that the motor suffered major internal damage due to overheat and is not economical for repair. I phone the garage and he didnt pick the call i message him about the smoke and engine(didnt mention the note) im willing to take the car to other garage today to check it but Im really feel sorry for my mum she spend a lot of her hard earned moneys and I m really worry if there is anything we can do about it. Please help thank you
Wio - 30-Apr-16 @ 8:54 AM
I would like to make a complaint about Peter. Vardey Aberdeen
Tc - 22-Apr-16 @ 2:33 PM
This visit to the garage cost me a total £400 and stress.We were there only for new starter motor for BMW ! Arrogant behavior , unprofessional and luck of skills. The old starter motor has been removed for highest rate .My car has been blocked as the computer lost conection ,reading errors from the additional power given to the motor .They are offered additional charge of £30 for diagnostic and pump replacement at extra cost .The fault was entirely to the job they done . We called recovery to moved the carfrom there .Solve the reading computererrors and the car started ,without mechanical work . They took our old starter without my permission and knowledge . No discount has been given for it .Do not apply on the invoice I received.
Nev - 21-Apr-16 @ 3:59 PM
This trip cost me a total £400 and stress.We were there only for new starter motor for BMW ! Arrogant behavior , unprofessional and luck of skills. The old starter motor has been removed for highest rate .My car has been blocked as the computer lost conection ,reading errors from the additional power given to the motor .They are offered additional charge of £30 for diagnostic and pump replacement at extra cost .The fault was entirely to the job they done . We called recovery to moved the carfrom there .Solve the reading computererrors and the car started ,without mechanical work . They took our old starter without my permission and knowledge ! No discount has been given for it.Full charge.
Nev - 21-Apr-16 @ 3:52 PM
I have just paid to have my Peugeot serviced at a cost of £170 the list of areas covered in the service states cam belt advice. I also told the garage at the time that my car was making a funny pinking sort of noise and asked them to investigate this at the time of service. My bill showed my query and it is printed on my receipt that customer had said car making funny pinking noise please investigate. A week later after driving less than 40 miles my cam belt broke and I had to be towed back to the garage by the AA. The garage now tell me they have no blame what so ever as my car is 9 years old and under the recommended mileage for cam belts change?? I am furious as you can imagine have I any rights???
Lizzy - 20-Apr-16 @ 4:12 PM
Have used the same mechanic to look after my performance car for over 10 years,he was trusted to be an expert, with upgrades to performance etc I spent around 8-9 thousand pounds with him. I started to think last year when he didn't give correct warranty on a battery and wouldn't answer me when it failed within the warranty period. I also had a new clutch fitted and drove 500 miles on it before taking car off road due to winter.i have just had the car fully checked over by a recommended mechanic, and it seems all of the upgrades he did were using fake parts,some not even done at all and areas sealed shut under the rear seats so I would never have been able to check, the wrong fluids have been put in and the new clutch I paid for appears to be a used one I'm so angry he has had all my money these years and scammed me.the problem is I want to tell him I know he has scammed me but how do I do it without bringing the new mechanic into it,as things can start to get messy and ruin the reputation of the new mechanic, why should he be allowed to get away with it???
Madcow - 13-Apr-16 @ 10:34 PM
Hi I've just had a 'replacement' air bag replaced as part of a recall provision for Honda cars. I cannot ascertain whether this has actually been undertaken, as the car looks untouched. Secondly several problems were noted by the garage, bulbs not working. Everything was in working order when I left my car with the Honda Garage. I asked for verification that the microphone on the HFT (hand free) was at fault, as I had already ascertained this. They charged me £51 pound for a hand written scribble to say it wasn't working. I asked for a printout of the diagnostic, which they were unable to provide. I would like to know what recourse I have with Brindley Honda in West Bromwich, Is there anyway of checking work has been undertaken, satisfactorly.
Arun - 4-Mar-16 @ 7:25 PM
I took my car for a service costing £195. I didnt do any checks afterwards which i probably should have because yesterday i opened the bonnet to change a headlight bulb to find a pipe connected to nothing and an empty space where i have been told the air box and filters go. I have been driving my car for miles the last month with this part missing after the service im worried its caused some damage to my engine. Any advice?
Anonymous - 20-Feb-16 @ 8:54 AM
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982,
faz - 27-Jan-16 @ 10:27 AM
I recently made the mistake of purchasing a new mercedes vito taxi from cabdirect in Edinburgh and within 48 hours had a fault with the rear brakes seizing on and a couple of other small faults. I contacted western commercial mercedes in newbridge edinburgh and wish I hadn't bothered as after 7 weeks and 16 faults I'm in a worse position then before due to their incompetence and lack of training.They have now attempted to fix brakes 4 times and after 3rd failed attempt I asked for pads and discs to be replaced and was told NO because as far as they were concerned the didn't sell me the vehicle so why should they replace the faulty parts under warrantythat would be the 3 year unlimited mileage warranty????? that they sell it with. So on the 4th attempt they told me they had used some "SPECIAL PAINT "that would sort it once and for all .WRONG I have now been told their TRAINED MECHANIC has applied to much "SPECIAL PAINT " which has caused the excess paint to build up around the pads and discs and seize them on worse than before and causing a burning smell inside passenger compartment and due to safety concerns not to use the vehixle.So i have now been off the road for 10 days during the busiest time of year and off road for nearly half the 7 weeks I have had the mis fortune of owning a Mercedes.I have now made an official complaint to milton keynes office and no doubt that will be swept under the carpet like the last 2 complaints so I would like to thank mercedes for the wonderful experience and would not recommend anyone to buy a Mercedes vito taxi.
Philpy - 8-Jan-16 @ 11:12 PM
The comment I add here is about local Mercedes dealer. From begging of buying 2010 C class AMG design, we had to argue with them to bring unnecessary price down. Like insurance on upholstery and guard for paint and etc. About £800 we brought the price down. Then one week after signing the finance agreement, I realised that the shock absorbers need to be changed. After twice taking it back to them they finally admitted that they need to be changed. Then after few months when I could not cancel the agreement, the rattling sound was coming from back of the car. It made me very angry. I spoke to them about it but they said it is nothing they can do about it. Two years ago they did not say to us what it is. Luckily, the sound disappeared. (I will say about it end of the comment). I have to say if the car Mercedes approved why the handle paint is coming off when I do not use rear doors at all. Even if I use should not be come off. Also the paint on rear bumper pilled off. Good we had still our warranty which we had bought it on agreement. After two years they told us that we need to change the whole front break. I took the car earlier than they told me as I did not want to have accident with %70 worn break. They change them plus two front tyres and something else that I do not remember its name. Something like stud. All together cost £350. Fair enough on that but after extending the service time to 5 hours the bill came out £950. It means about £600 labour cost. Fanny yeah, disgusting I should say because next day in weekend I called emergency phone number and they carry the car to them and they gave me courtesy car from Europcar. I was waiting for these all day on Saturday, morning till afternoon. the reason was because the break was stopping car in about 5 meter distance, maybe more with speed of around 30 miles ph. Why should car coming out of garage without bedding the breaks. As they said we have to drive 200 miles to be ok. Up to this day, we have driven about 150 miles but breaks still are not what the genuine Mercedes parts should do. Also the break sensor was faulty after a week so another weekend we spent with them but they did not want to see us while working on the car but I did talk to them and told them that I do not bothered anymore about full service history on their computer system and I will go any other garage which is much cheaper labour and I will trust them more now after all these horrible experiences. Then recently estimation for three very tiny scratches done by idiot youngsters near school which it is very hard to see, came up to be £1050. After half agreement period gone, we decided to have estimation to see how much worth the £18000 Mercedes and if we can change it to new version. I just made myself angry by doing so because their estimation is £8000!!! £10000 losing in just two years. So now these words round and round around my mind, Approved Mercedes, Honestly, Safe, Mercedes Genuine Parts.
den - 17-Dec-15 @ 6:43 PM
Got my (usually reliable) mechanic to check a previously owned car before I bought. He was happy and said needed a service but little else so I paid the previous owner and the mechanic for work and to be serviced. Due to mechanic's illness, it was almost a month before car was finished and his assistant handed me the documents and I walked to PO to tax vehicle. That was June. Today, car wouldn't start which am sure is just flat battery as I haven't driven for almost a month. On checking whether my insurance covered "home start", I discovered the earliest the mot could be renewed was the day I taxed car, ie, I have been driving with no mot (&therefore invalid insurance) from the 1st day I drove it - almost 5 months. The mechanic was unavailable today and due to contact me tomorrow. In the meantime, the car is immobile and parked outside my house, on the street. It would appear that it was never serviced - this could've been an oversight on the assistant's part but obviously,am v worried. Am I within my rights to insist mechanic tows it to be repaired?
Tinyredhead - 10-Nov-15 @ 5:15 PM
I was told my head gasket had gone but came back to say no cracks had appeared and no sign of damage , then after paying £1000 I was told they needed another £500 for adjusting the timing timing chain they had just replaced ! Car is still not fixed .
Flo - 21-Oct-15 @ 3:11 PM
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