Auto repair: avoid disputes

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You will avoid unpleasant surprises if the contact details of a trusted mechanic are in your address book. On the other hand, if, for the maintenance of your car or major repairs, for lack of time or because you are far from your home, you stop in the first garage encountered, take a few precautions before leaving the keys. . Based on six testimonials, we show you the right prevention reflexes.

A bill for an unexpected amount

“A mechanic in the Lyon region asked me for the sum of €885 for the replacement of the timing belt of my Volkswagen Passat”, chokes Jérôme, who had to shorten his vacation.

Garage owners can charge the prices of their choice provided they display, outside and in the office where they receive their customers, the hourly labor rate and details of the fixed-price services offered (maintenance, painting , etc.). Count on average 45 € per hour of labor, but this price can exceed 65 €. As soon as the bill reaches €15.24, the mechanic must give you an invoice detailing the cost of labor (according to the actual time spent or a fixed scale) and that of the parts supplied. Have it specified the date of the repair, the mileage and the registration number of your car.

Compare the prices of several brands before entrusting your vehicle. If time is not too pressing, have several quotes drawn up to compare the offers. Attention ! If dismantling is necessary to establish the price of the intervention, the estimate may be chargeable (the cost will be deducted from the invoice of the mechanic to whom you will ultimately entrust your car).

Unscheduled repairs

“In complete confidence, I asked the dealership where I bought my Fiat Panda to replace the brake pads. When I came to pick up my car, the mechanic told me that he had also changed the drums. Cost of the operation: €244 instead of the planned €65.” Even if it was necessary, Gaby finds the process cavalier.

The mechanic must only carry out the repairs ordered. As a professional, however, he has a duty to advise. If, at the time of dismantling, he discovers that additional interventions are necessary, in particular with regard to safety, he must notify you and obtain at least your verbal agreement.

Request a “repair order” (or “repair voucher”) from the mechanic. This document is not mandatory, but it is useful when it precisely details all the interventions ordered. Make a note that you want to be notified in case additional repairs need to be done, so that you agree, by phone or, preferably, in writing if you have time to return to the garage.

More damaged on departure than on arrival

“Leaving the overhaul, I discovered a scratch on the right door of my Twingo”, storms Isabelle, to whom the mechanic maintains that she entrusted her car to him in this state.

Once he has taken charge of your car, the mechanic becomes responsible for it. Damaged bodywork, stolen toolbox or car radio, completely vanished car… It is his insurance which must compensate you.

Take care not to leave cash, jewelry or other valuables in the glove compartment, a leather jacket in the back seat or a computer in the trunk. On the repair order, make it clear that an object remains in the car or that the bodywork is free from any scratches.

Repaired, of course, but badly…

“I took my car to the garage for a universal joint boot.” As he left, Henry thought he was safe. Wrongly: “On the road, the ABS warning light comes on. In another garage, I am told that the ABS sensor is broken and that the universal joint is loose.”

The local dealer changed the master cylinder, the brake pedal, the front discs, the sensors… Total cost: €1,100. Only here it is, explains Pierre, when the same symptoms appeared 15,000 km later, the problem was solved by changing the brake pads. For only 47 €.”

The mechanic to whom you entrust your car is subject to an obligation of result and must repair it “in the rules of the art”, that is to say, return a vehicle to you in perfect working order, failing which he undertakes his responsibility. You would then be entitled to ask the judge to order him to compensate you. Moreover, a mechanic who invoices for unnecessary repairs, interventions that he did not carry out or a new part which was in fact second-hand is guilty of fraud which may cost him a fine or even the prison.

Always keep the estimate and the detailed invoice given to you by the garage and, where applicable, the used parts changed, to support your file in the event of a dispute .

The car is not ready

 I had to pick up my vehicle on Friday evening to go back to Lille during the weekend and get back to work. Monday. Ten minutes before closing time, the repairman tells me that the car is not ready, because the new box is “scratching” and that he has to dismantle everything again,” says Monique, who had to Buy a train ticket.

Most often, the repair time is announced orally, which commits the repairer, but since you have no proof, this leaves you with few means of putting pressure on the mechanic and, for example, demanding a solution from him. replacement: loan of a vehicle, lump sum compensation for the damage suffered, etc.

When leaving your car in the garage, specify in the repair order the expected period of immobilization, to more easily assert your claim for compensation.

Your remedies

To negotiate with a recalcitrant mechanic: local consumer protection association. List and addresses with the National Consumer Institute (INC).


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