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Vehicle Repairs

Getting a vehicle repaired can be stressful. Many people do not know enough about cars to know if the work is needed or if it was done properly. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and things you can do if are unhappy with the work done or the bill.

If a mechanic says I need some repairs, I believe him. If the bill is $500, I pay it. What else can I do?"

The best way to handle repair problems is to take a preventive approach. Look for a mechanic before you actually need one. This way you won't be rushed into making a hasty decision because you need emergency repairs. Shop around and ask for references from other customers. Find out if the mechanic is qualified to work on your brand of car and if they have other specialized training you may need.

Before you get the work done...

  • get estimates for major work
  • consider getting a second opinion for complicated or expensive repairs
  • check the hourly rate for labour and how this is calculated (is there a minimum charge for labour regardless of the time spent?)
  • do not sign blank order forms
  • insist on a call before any work is done; when you sign a work order, give your phone number and write "No further work without telephone authorization"
  • ask about the possibility of using re-manufactured or salvaged parts to keep costs down
  • request that old parts that have been replaced be returned to you

After you have work done...

  • review the repair invoice and confirm that it corresponds to your request and estimate
  • road test the vehicle to determine if the problem has been fixed

Disputes over Repairs

If you are not satisfied with a repair return your vehicle right away to the shop that did the work originally. Give them a reasonable opportunity to fix your car. Speak to the service manager and ask them to test drive the car so you can point out the problem.

Where appropriate, present your complaint in writing, and keep a copy for yourself. You may want to get an independent examination of the vehicle. If you still cannot resolve the problem, you will likely need to go to other agencies for help, for example the Consumer Protection Division. They can be contacted toll-free at 1-877-880-5550 or by emailing

If you are not satisfied with the work simply refusing to pay the bill will not generally resolve the problem. If you do not pay the bill the mechanic may refuse to give you back your vehicle or may give you the vehicle back but then register a lien against your vehicle. Even If they give you the vehicle back they can register a lien within 15 days of returning it to you. If a mechanic has your vehicle or a lien against it they may eventually be able to sell your vehicle to pay the bill. You may need to seek legal advice if you are in this situation and you do not want to pay the bill (perhaps because of shoddy work).

Despite your best efforts, it may not be possible for you to resolve a dispute with a dealer or mechanic. If you cannot get any satisfaction from the people you are dealing with, you may need to consider taking the issue to court. A lawyer's advice can be useful to help you decide if it is worth your while to go to court. You may also want to consider going to Small Claims Court. This court provides an easier and less expensive way to resolve legal disputes and often a lawyer's assistance is not required.

The possibility of having to go to court is why it is important to keep accurate records of your agreement and communications. Unless you can accurately show a judge the evidence of what happened, you will have difficulty protecting your rights as a consumer. In consumer law, the difference between theory and fact is being able to prove your claim. Complete records will help you to prove your claim, whether to a dealer or to a judge.

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