Cars - servicing and repairs

If you own a car you must make sure it is in a safe, roadworthy condition, and to keep it in good working order. There is plenty of competition for car servicing and repairs, so pick up the phone or go online and shop around for quotes. Remember, whoever services or repairs a particular part of the car is responsible for this work.

Servicing

You might try to save money by getting your car serviced less regularly. But cutting back on essential maintenance and repairs does not always save you money in the long run. Having your car serviced regularly will help keep your car in the best working order and will help you budget for upcoming maintenance, like new tyres.

You could also be breaking the law. For example, excessively worn tyres or faulty headlights mean your car could be too dangerous to be used on the road.

Each model of car has a manufacturer's recommended timeframe for routine servicing and you should try to service your car as frequently as recommended to keep it in its best condition.

Freelance mechanics

Freelance or self-employed mechanics may be less expensive than a garage or dealership. Some offer to repair your car at their premises, at your home or at your workplace.

Some people use mechanics who deal in cash only and often don't issue receipts. When choosing a mechanic, consider the following:

  • Without a receipt or proof of purchase, you may find it difficult to take the matter further if you run into problems.
  • Only ever employ a mechanic on the recommendation of someone you trust.
  • Be very cautious about getting your car repaired by anyone who does not have a premises or trading address.

No matter where you get the service done, you should always ask if the work will be covered by a written guarantee.

Get quotations

If you need a service or repair, ask for a detailed, written quotation for the work in advance of getting any work done. Always check the quotation carefully before agreeing to the work and make sure you get a breakdown so that labour and parts are costed separately. The quote should include VAT. Make sure you get a ‘quote’ and not just an ‘estimate,’ which is simply a guess at the cost of the work - it could end up costing you much more once the work is done. You can refer to a written quotation later in case of any dispute.

You should be clear with the garage or mechanic about what you want done. Make sure they know not to do any additional work on the car without consulting you Any work needed in addition to what was agreed by you must not be carried out without your permission. Ask questions if you're not clear on something, particularly about spare parts and the necessity to replace them.

It is illegal for a trader to claim work needs to be carried out when it doesn't, so don't be afraid to get a second opinion if you think some work is not necessary. It’s also against the law to claim to be a member of a trade association or to say you have some industry approval for the work being carried out if this is not true.

Making a claim on your insurance

If you want to make an insurance claim for repair work you will need to submit a quote to your insurance company before the work is carried out. The company will generally appoint an assessor to review the amount in the quote. In many cases, the assessor will negotiate the figure and may deem some of the repair work unnecessary. When the work is completed, you should be provided with a detailed invoice, showing parts, labour and VAT.

Windscreen repairs

If your windscreen requires a repair or replacement, always check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy first. Make sure you have windscreen cover and take note of any specific terms and conditions. It may also specify certain windscreen repair garages that you must use in order to be covered. Some windscreen repair shops advertise “free windscreen repairs”. However, if you use a garage or windscreen repair shop that is not named on your insurance policy, you may have to cover the costs yourself. Always check with your insurance company if you are unsure about what is covered on your policy.

Complaints

Some of the problems you could have after you have had your car serviced or repaired include:

  • Replacement parts failing a short time after the service or repair
  • Generic parts being used when you said you wanted genuine manufacturer parts
  • Second-hand parts being used instead of new parts
  • Additional work being done without your approval
  • The final bill costing a lot more than the quotation
  • The service not being complete at the time agreed
  • The car failing the NCT if you asked specifically for NCT issues to be checked
  • Damage to your car which wasn't there before the work - always check around the car before you drive off and raise any issues immediately.

Complain to the person or garage which carried out the work and ask them to put things right. If the work was done by a garage you should complain to the manager.

If you are still not happy, and the person or garage is a member of a trade association - for example the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), you could consider taking the matter up with that association.

You could also take up the matter through the Small Claims procedure.

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