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Case studies - Car repairs taking too long

Mrs Jones took her car into a local garage for a service and some additional repairs. The repairs ran over the time that she had thought they would take and she had to hire a car from another garage. The repairs to her car were finally completed more than a month later. 

When returning the hire car, Mrs Jones told the garage staff about the repairs that she was having done to her own car. They were shocked at the length of time that it had taken. They suggested that these repairs should only have taken about two weeks, and suggested she seek compensation for the cost of the hire car.

Not sure what action to take, Mrs. Jones contacted Which? Legal Service. She told us that while she was happy to pay for the service and repairs to her car, she wanted to know if she could claim back any of the money that she had spent on the hire of the car. 

Which? Legal advice

Our lawyers told Mrs Jones that under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended) the repairs should have been completed within a reasonable time. What is reasonable is subjective and is normally decided on the facts of each particular case. 

We told Mrs Jones that as the hire-car garage suggested that these repairs should have taken no longer than two weeks to complete, this could be considered the ‘benchmark’ with regards to the time that the repairs should have taken.

The fact that the garage had taken over a month to complete the repairs would indicate that they had not done so within a reasonable time. 

Our lawyers advised Mrs Jones that her right to claim any of the costs incurred for the hire car was dependant on whether she had told the original garage that she’d need a replacement car while her own car was being repaired. It would also depend on whether she had asked the garage for use of a courtesy car. 

If the garage was aware of Mrs Jones’ need for a car and were unable to provide her with a courtesy car, they would then be liable to compensate her for the cost of the hire car – for the period in which the garage retained her car beyond what would be deemed to be a reasonable time. 

Legal points

Any compensation that Mrs. Jones could claim would be dependent on her telling the garage of her potential losses (her need to hire a car) and have arisen as a direct result of the garage’s failure to repair her car within a reasonable time. 

Otherwise, it would be reasonable for the garage to have assumed that Mrs Jones had an alternate mean of transport such as a second car or public transport.