We received a suggestion to write a blog about over-charging for car repairs from our Facebook friend Justin. This is an issue our inquiry team receives quite often so we thought this was a great blog topic!
Currently, the automobile repair industry is not regulated. This means that there is no governing body or designated association that oversees the services or behaviour of automobile repair shops. Consider the following tips to limit the risks of being overcharged for repair service:
- Be curious. Ask your repair shop what they think the repair will cost.
- Do your research and shop around. Consider getting a few opinions or quotes from different repair shops. You may also want to do some online research about particular companies. There may be some reviews available online.
- Get a reference. Ask your friends about their experiences and who they would recommend.
- Get it in writing. Make sure to get a quote in writing that outlines the repairs to be done, and the cost of the repairs.
- Be proactive. Ask the repair shop to contact you beforehand if they think that repairs or costs will exceed those in the quote.
If you had a repair done to your automobile and were not happy with the service or the costs, talk to the repair shop about your concerns. If the business you are dealing with is a member of an association, you may also wish to contact them to see if they have a complaint handling process.
We hope this helps!
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60 thoughts on “Automobile repairs”
Always take a multiple opinion on your auto repair. I went through a situation where I’ve been told by a repair center that the engines need to be changed and all. But luckily a friend of mine suggested me a automotive repair services and it saved me a lot of money. They told that there is no need to change engine, only some repair work is enough. So it is always good to take multiple opinions in the case of service and over the charges for those services.
I went for an oil change and transmission change and it cost me 500 dollars I am an elderly woman I feel that I was taken by Jiffy Lube on 82 street and 130 Ave Edmonton Alberta what can I do about it
Hi Marie, thank you for reaching out to us. You may want to reach out to Jiffy Lube’s customer service team here to discuss the situation.
Thank you for sharing that tip Aubrey!
This blog is full of information. I really like it very much. Keep on writing these type of blogs. Thanks for sharing.
This article is really great and I like this article. I hope after reading this article people will get some tips on this topic. I hope more and more articles on automotive, I request everyone to read this article and save money.
I took my car to autoshop to change both front struts fully assembled part used and charged me 1330… I asked other autoshop and asked for estimate and should be only 500-600 for the same job.
Hi Jeffrey, thank you for posting your comment here. Have you gone back to the auto repair shop to talk to them about the charge? That may be a good first step – you can mention the quote you got from the other shop too. I hope you will be able to solve this issue, Jeffrey!
This is a great list, I need to learn how to do some more of these on my own. I’ve changed my oil and windshield wipers before and it was pretty simple but I usually rely on the Volkswagen Service Center for everything else!
“there is no governing body or designated association that oversees the services or behaviour of automobile repair shops”
This is absolutely horrid. The Auto repair industry is rife with overcharging and uneccessary service. As a recent expat from the US, I’m shocked that something here is actually worse than it is in the US.
I recently had a repair I was told I needed, I clearly stated that I wanted them to keep the old parts for me once the job was done, because I wanted to see them.
So naturally, they tossed them out before I could see them. Apparently they can make any claims they want, and then throw away evidence. Even if it still belongs to me. Old parts are still technically my belongings. It’s illegal to throw away old parts in the US, until the customer ok’s it.
But here, I’m screwed. As are thousands of other auto repair customers every year.
Hi Toby, thank you for your comment. That sounds like a frustrating situation. While Consumer Protection BC does not have any authority when it comes to vehicle repair shops, I did a bit of digging for you to see if I could find any laws in BC that may apply to your situation. There is a piece of law called the Sale of Goods Act, it is not overseen/administered by an agency or organization, so any recourse using it would be through the courts, however, you might be interested in taking a look at the section called “damages for nondelivery” to see if it applies to your situation: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96410_01#section54. I don’t know for sure if this would apply for this issue, as this is not a law overseen by us and we’re not in a position to give any kind of legal advice, but I thought it might be something you could check out.
If you do decide to take legal action, you may be interested in using the Civil Resolution Tribunal, they can help you try to resolve small claims disputes under $5,000. We’ve written a blog post that goes over what you can expect from this process if you think it’s something you are interested in pursuing: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2017/09/resolving-small-claims-strata-disputes-online-expect-crt/. I hope this info is helpful to you and best of luck with everything 🙂
I am so frustrated. This mechanic was recommended to me by another mechanic. They never officially and properly diagnosed my car. They only gave me ideas and said to replace both things. It ended up costing over $1200 to have an official diagnosis and to have my car properly fixed. I am very frustrated about this. Cars and expensive and have an official diagnosis is key.
Nicely said… Yup…2 years battle with a Toyota dealership for repairs gone bad… AND NO ONE can;t help. The repair was done under the Toyota in-service warranty pgm; the repair failed during the in-service warranty; and dealerhship can’t remember what work was done… ONE WEEK AFTER the wrok was performed. Even Toyota Canada… full of excusses and delays. Next…small claims and then MEDIA… The Toyota Way…
I just ask for a photo of brakes and rotors that were supposed to be corroded and grooves but we just had them done 5 months and only 4000klms ago so I asked for a picture they said they don’t do that but could show.me the part later bit they never did. I feel of nearly $1500 😢
Hi Cel, please note that we edited out a word from your original comment due to the language setting on our website.
I just went thru similar. $1200 brake job, seized rear brakes with apparently an unattached cable for the E brake.
That was in August. Just doing work on the car now, timing belt replacement… mechanic looked at the rear brakes and told me I need new brakes(different mechanic than the one that did the brakes). I just got them done in August, 7 months ago. New calipers, pads, and I think rotors. I drive standard, so no heavy brake usage. I was charged $1200… for nothing done!!!
I recently had some work done on my brakes, I was told it would cost $700-$800 dollars, when the work was finished I was handed a bill for nearly $1200, I was never contacted about this raise in price until the work was already done.
Does anyone know what courses of action I can take?
Hi Solomon, thank you for your question. While Consumer Protection BC does not have any authority when it comes to vehicle repair shops, I did a bit of digging for you to see if I could find any laws in BC that may apply to your situation. There is a piece of law called the Sale of Goods Act, it is not overseen/administered by an agency or organization, so any recourse using it would be through the courts, however, you might be interested in taking a look to see if any of it applies to your situation: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96410_01. I don’t know for sure if this would apply for this issue, as this is not a law overseen by us and we’re not in a position to give any kind of legal advice, but I thought it might be something you could check out.
If you do decide to take legal action, you may be interested in using the Civil Resolution Tribunal, they can help you try to resolve small claims disputes under $5,000. We’ve written a blog post that goes over what you can expect from this process if you think it’s something you are interested in: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2017/09/resolving-small-claims-strata-disputes-online-expect-crt/. I hope this info is helpful to you and best of luck with everything 🙂
Lots of good advice here, the points you have put here are unique. I have read many blogs regarding automotive repairs I must say this blog caught my attention.
This blog is short and on point. Thank you for sharing this information.
Hi Lary! So happy to hear you found the post helpful. Thanks for commenting 🙂
For the past year I have been dealing with Canadian Tire & Totem Ford for unauthorized repairs and coercing me into selling my car for $500 next to nothing when its worth$5,000 retail. These companies are playing games with my life and family putting us through undue stress and walking for the past year. I have a back inuries as well. These companies think they can do whatever they please with no repercussions. CT now offers for me to buy my car back 8 months later, what a joke. Lousy companies with no respect for the customer or families. Unatuhorized work done as well. Is this legal?
Hi John, thanks for reaching out to us here. I think the organization you want to speak to regarding your issues with the dealership (Totem Ford), would be the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC (VSA). They oversee dealerships in the province. Here’s a link to their contact information: https://mvsabc.com/contact-us/. If you are looking for reimbursements/damages from Canadian Tire, you may have to take legal action, as it’s my understanding they are not regulated by any overseeing body. There are a couple different ways to do this:
• The Civil Resolution Tribunal can help with claims under $5000
• BC Small Claims Court can help you settle disputes of up to $35,000
If you would like to speak to a lawyer beforehand, the Canadian Bar Association of BC offers a Lawyer Referral Service where you can speak to a lawyer for 30 minutes for approximately $25.
While this area is outside of our authority, we’re happy to provide you with referrals and information. I hope this is helpful to you and please let me know if you have any questions.
Can anyone help with this? My son had a problem with a vehicle he purchased one month later. It was towed to the town he lives in and a reputable mechanic said the engine was blown and likely the transmission too. He suggested contacting the dealer as repairs could be more than the vehicle cost. The dealer who is in another town didn’t believe the mechanic so sent a tow truck to take it to a mechanic there. That mechanic apparently didn’t want to work on it so the dealer had it sent to another shop who confirmed to them that the engine was blown and would have to be replaced before testing the transmission. The dealer said the mechanic would not proceed until my son guaranteed $1800 labour. My son said he wanted parts and labour costs in writing and a guarantee that the car would be completely repaired for that amount. He did not receive ANY estimates in writing or talk to the mechanic himself so he didn’t authorize the engine replacement. To his surprise about a month later he learned the engine had been replaced, that a mechanic lien has been put on it despite never even seeing an invoice, that he owed a total of $5500 that had to be paid to get his car back. Apparently this is $4000 to the mechanic and $1500 to the dealer’s lawyer for responding to his complaint to VSA against the dealer. VSA says they can’t help because their mandate only extends to pre sale, not mechanical or post sale issues and referred him to you.
From the time the dealer had the car removed from my son’s mechanic shop he lost control over everything that was said, agreed to or done by either the dealer or mechanic. The dealer didn’t give him the names of the mechanics or where the car was at any given time. After the repairs it apparently went back to the dealer who has since sent it back to the mechanic for some reason.
Can a repair shop proceed on the word of a third party without talking to the owner to give them an estimate and get signed authorization?
Can a repair shop put a lien on a car without sending the owner an invoice?
Can a repair shop do more work than they and the dealer discussed and more than double the labour they told the dealer it would be without discussing it with the owner?
Can a dealer expect the owner to pay their lawyer to prepare a response to VSA for a claim the owner filed with VSA?
I hope you can help with this tangled mess. The cost of the car has now doubled and he doesn’t have the money to pay what they say he owes.
Hi Carol, thanks for taking the time to explain your son’s situation – that sounds really frustrating. I’m sorry you’ve been bumped around from organization to organization, however, while we licence several industries and oversee specific consumer protection laws, we don’t have any legal authority when it comes to mechanics, dealerships, or unauthorized repairs. If the VSA said they can’t help with this issue, I believe your recourse would be through the courts. BC Small Claims can help with disputes over $5000 and they have some more information on their website as to what that process looks like. If you would like to speak to a lawyer beforehand, the Canadian Bar Association offers a Lawyer Referral Service, where you can speak to a lawyer for 30 minutes for approximately $25. I hope this is somewhat helpful, Carol, and best of luck to you and your son.
Hi, I just got my car repaired as it broke down And wouldn’t start. I contacted Surrey Center Auto Repairs and they diagnosed lot of parts needed to be changed, including Fuel Pump, actuators, spark plugs, engine coil, etc while I was charged $2500.
Within 10 kms of driving, the car broke down again and I am yet not sure what they charged me for legitimate. According to them, their labour warranty is 90 days and parts warranty is 1 year. Whom should I contact if they give me another bill and demand for more part changes??? What are my right in BC?
Hi Cheena, thank you for posting your question. Unfortunately, car repair shops in BC are not regulated so you would have to directly deal with the business. Sounds like the business has warranties so hopefully they will be able to honour that for you. Perhaps making sure that you keep a record of your communication with the shop may be helpful in case you have to take it to the Civil Resolution Tribunal later. But I hope the shop will be reasonable with you and work this out without any issues.
I believe in doing thorough research before going for any meets. Well explained points. Thanks!
Hi Larry! You’re welcome! I’m glad you fond the info helpful.
I always go after recommendation from my friends or family. This way I won;t have to take the risk. They already have told me the honest reviews. I would recommend the same.
Hi Richard, thanks for the tip! Recommendations from friends and family are a great place to start!
My uncle had a fcrash and was quoted $5000 dollars for repairs. After the repairs the shop claimed that they found more problems and charged $9000. Is this legal?
Hi Albert, thanks for reaching out to us. You and your uncle may have already tried to work this out with the repair shop, but if you haven’t, we recommend starting there. Your uncle may also be interested in taking a look at the contract or form he signed with the repair shop – there’s a chance there could be fine print in there that states that the shop is within their right to make additional repairs beyond the estimate. I would suggest taking a look to confirm what he agreed to.
If you’re unhappy with the additional costs outside of the estimate and have not been able to work it out directly with the business, you may need to take legal action. There are a couple different ways to do this:
• The Civil Resolution Tribunal can help with claims under $5,000: https://civilresolutionbc.ca/how-the-crt-works/getting-started/
• BC Small Claims Court can help you settle disputes of up to $35,000: http://www.smallclaimsbc.ca/
If you would like to speak to a lawyer beforehand, the Canadian Bar Association of BC offers a Lawyer Referral Service where you can speak to a lawyer for 30 minutes for approximately $25. While this area is outside our authority, I hope this info was helpful to you!
Our 1994 VW Westfalia is in service since July 2nd this summer. The shop owner told us some problems with the engine computer module. We think he tried to have the computer fixed, however, he hasn’t managed starting the motor. We have been thinking of retreating the van and taking it to somewhere else. The van is not drivable so we have to hire a tow truck.
Do we owe the shop for keeping our van for four months and the shop trying to fix the van?
Hi Shikyo, thanks for reaching out to us here. We have no legal authority or insight into disputes around vehicle repairs. I would suggest you try to work it out with the shop owner directly, and if you’re not able to do that, your next option would be Small Claims Court. I know this wasn’t the answer you we’re looking for, but I hope it’s helpful to you!
Thank you for your advise.
We haven’t got our car back to us for five months, so we haven’t paid any. We don’t think they, Adria Import Services are not seriously working on it. They never phone and tell us about it. If we phone them, their reply is always they’ve been working on it and it still has problems…..
Does the Ombudsman take complains of auto repair businesses?
Hi Shikyo, thanks for your question. It’s my understanding that your only recourse at this point would be through Small Claims Court. I’m not aware of an Ombudsperson that oversees repair shops. I hope this is helpful and best of luck!
In cobble hill?
Can I fix my son’s car on the street? It needs a water pump and radiator. I’m a mechanic and could do it for $200. The garage quoted $1500 for parts and labour. He lives in Burnaby, in a basement suite.
Hi Ken, thanks for your question. I’m really not sure. That may be something to ask the local municipality! I’m sorry I can’t be more help – we don’t have any oversight when it comes to this kind of thing. Best of luck getting the information you need!
I’ve had my rear brake lines replaced and the guy never bled my brakes nor did he torked my lug nuts and nearly lost a wheel in Penticton.BC Called him and he started being belligerent and swearing at me. The outfit is Princeton Tire and the name is Rick.
Hi Marioi, sorry to hear about your experience. I hope you were able to talk to a manager from the repair shop and solve the issue.
Hello, we purchased a Kia Sportage in 2013. 3 years later my husband was driving home from work and he heard clanking noises and the car just dropped accelerating, he managed to coast it off the highway. After much headache the dealership agreed to fulfil the 100,000 km warranty on the vehicle. Upon completion of the vehicle repairs (bearing shot through engine) communication with the service manager was difficult so we corresponded via email. His email stated that our vehicle was under a extended warranty but attached a template of the warranty certificate and to come in if we heard and concerning noises from the engine. Fast forward to July 2020, same thing happens, we’re stuck on the highway for 5 hours with our two children in 30 degree weather. We tow to the Nearest Kia dealership and we’re told by them that our engine is not one of the engines under the extended warranty the service manager had attached in his email. Same thing is said by Kia Canada customer service. Is there some way that the service
Manager and the Kia dealership that we had the repairs done in 2016 is liable for this repair? As we have in writing that he specifically stated our vehicle was under the extended warranty?
Hi Matt, sorry to hear about your situation. Consumer Protection BC does not oversee vehicle repairs but there is an organization that may be able to point you in the right direction. It’s called the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) and they help consumers and manufacturers resolve disputes about vehicle assembly, material defects, and how the new vehicle warranty is applied through binding arbitration. Here’s their website – https://www.camvap.ca/ I hope this referral is helpful to you!
These are some great automobile repairs that you have discussed here. I really loved it and thank you very much for sharing this with us. You have a great visualization and you have really presented this content in a really good manner.
01.13.2022 – In British Columbia, Canada: Can a auto repair shop disclose information about your car repairs/ maintenance to a third party entity (i.e. Carfax) without your consent or knowledge – and the vehicle WAS NOT in an accident
Hi Bernard, thank you for posting your question here. As you can see in our article, auto repair shops in BC are not regulated by a government organization. Having said that, as your concern relates to your privacy, you may want to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC (OIPC). They may be able to provide you with more information – here is a link to their website. I hope they will be able to point you in the right direction!
Should the repair shop charge you for a quick estimate? They just did a quick look underneath my car for less than 5 minutes then charged me 100. When I search the internet, Auto Shops should not charge for a quick estimate and I am confused. Is there a way to get my money back?
Hi Jung, thank you for reaching out to us. As the article suggests, auto repair shops are not regulated in BC so there are no regulatory organizations to consult with. One thing I can suggest is to go back/call the repair shop and see if they are able to give you a refund given that it only took 5 minutes for the estimate. You may also want to suggest that they put the money towards the actual repair. I hope you will be able to come to a resolution with them.
As suggested, I managed to get a waive from the total cost. However, I decided not to get a repair from them since I can’t trust their business practice.
Would there be any reason why such a huge industry is neglected from being properly regulated? Thank you,
Hi Jung, I’m glad you were able to resolve the issue! I’m not sure why the auto repair industry is not regulated by a government organization (we do not determine which industry gets regulated, BC government does) but if that’s a concern, you can always write to your local MLA and share your opinion and experience.
recently I had an issue with my car honda pilot alarm going off. I took it to the Honda showroom, they diagnosed and told that i have to replace the start-stop button. I asked them if you replace it, the problem will get solved, they said with our experience we are telling you, they said I was not convinced but made them replace. after replacing they asked me to pick up the car. I picked up my car and parked and again the alarm started going off, I called honda right away informed them, they asked me to bring back the car to the showroom. which I did. this time they said one of the car doors latch not working they said I had an argument so the manager said I cover that for you. after that they asked me to pick the car. I picked the car. again same problem alarm goes off. I called and informed them, I took back my vehicle to the showroom they said we need to do more diagnosis I said ok and they opened bak trunk and asked me if the car was involved in an accident I said yes but it had been more then 1 year I told them, they said wiring working is not done properly. I called ICBC and reopen the claim, and they kept my car for 5 days and asked me to pick up the car, again the same issue I called and informed them, asked me to drop off the car there and asked me to pay for the more diagnosis I said I am not paying you anything and took my car to the mechanic who fixed when the accident happened he gave orders to honda to work on it. and they said your key fob not working and made me change it when I picked the same problem again, I called honda showroom they asked me to drop it off. they diagnosed and made me replace another few more parts and still, the problem has not been solved what kind of action I can take please advise me to thank you.
Hello and thank you for contacting Consumer Protection BC. You may have read it in the article but currently, the automobile repair industry is not regulated. This means that there is no governing body or designated association that oversees the services or behaviour of automobile repair shops. The only thing we could suggest is to negotiate with Honda and see if you can get some of the charges waived and have them fix the issue. Having said that, if your vehicle is still under warranty, you can contact CAMVAP to try resolving the issue through arbitration. You can visit their website for more information and contact them to see if they will be able to help you.
Hi. My friend recently changed the Catalytic Converter on his Kia Soul at Kia dealership, which cost over $2k. The problem did not go away, and today he took it to another mechanic and he told him that he is 100% positive that the Catalytic Converter was not changed at all. So basically they did not even perform the repair for which they charged him over $2,000. Also, he found out that the Catalytic Converter was one of the two recalls this specific model has. Who do I have to contact to report this outrageous fraud?
Hi Jihun, thank you for contacting Consumer Protection BC. Even though the work was done at the dealership, it is still an auto repair shop so I am not sure if this would fall under any laws in BC. It may be worth checking in with the Vehicle Sales Authority though. Their website is here. If they do not oversee that issue, your friend may have to take the issue to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (after trying to work it out with the repair shop/dealership, of course). The website for them is here. I hope your friend will be able to resolve this issue quickly!
I am so frustrated. This mechanic was recommended to me by another mechanic. They never officially and properly diagnosed my car. They only gave me ideas and said to replace both things. It ended up costing over $1200 to have an official diagnosis and to have my car properly fixed. I am very frustrated about this. Cars and expensive and have an official diagnosis is key
Hi Chelsea, thank you for reaching out to us and I am sorry to hear that your experience has been negative with your mechanic. As our article mentions, Consumer Protection BC does not regulate the automobile repair industry or any other governmental organizations in BC. Your option may be to try negotiating the final bill with your mechanic or take them to CRT (Civil Resolution Tribunal) for compensation. If you are interested in finding out more about the CRT, you can visit their website here.
I was getting this check-engine warning light on my car so I took it to a mechanic. The mechanic guy diagnosed it with a scanner and told me the camshaft & crankshaft sensors needed to be replaced. I trusted him and let him replace the parts.
When I went back to pick up my car back, he said now it had another problem with the idle air throttle part which was perfectly okay before he touched my car! He further explained that now I should take it to a Nissan dealer since only they have these equipment & tools to perform what he called “throttle body relearn procedure”. (He should’ve told me this first before he started working on my car, shouldn’t he?)
I spent some 800 dollars and my car is in a worse status now, high RPM pulsating like crazy and the engine running even noisier than before. 🙁 How absurd is this??!! I’ve got this gut feeling that the mechanic did something wrong and is not being responsible for or even worse, he broke something else on purpose and tries to make me pay more for repair or part replacement. Either way, I really do feel like I got played here by the mechanic.
Can you please tell me what can be done with my car and/or the mechanic? I’m really clueless as to where to seek help and don’t know what to do.
Any advice or suggestion will be highly appreciated. Please Help!
Hey Simon, thanks for reaching out. It sounds like this may be a quality-of-service issue. While this isn’t an area we have any legal authority over, we do have some options you can explore in this blog post here: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2017/11/quality-service-issue-can/
In the meantime, you might be interested in getting a second opinion from your dealership (or a well reviewed mechanic) to see if they point out the same issue about your vehicle. They might be able to help you get to the bottom of the issue. I hope this helps!
I bought a 4 year old Infiniti JX35 just over 5 years ago. Shortly after purchase I started having an issue with the seatbelt locking up for no reason. I went to dealership and they said they couldn’t find any errors codes so could do anything about it. I’ve lost track of how many times over the 5 years this has happened. about 3 years ago we also had a problem with the control panel going completely dark. After disconnecting and reconnecting the battery it worked again. I’ve also randomly had the blind spot warning beep randomly when there is nothing and no one around me. The dealership can never find error codes when they check. Most recently and most disturbing was about 5 weeks ago I was trying to park my car at the store and the car just died. No warning nothing. Just died. I had to be pushed into a parking spot. I had warnings of BCI, FCW, BSW. All of these are sensors. After towing to dealer they told me my 10 month old battery was dead and they had to replace it along with alternator. This happened of October. Here we are at beginning of December and exact same thing happened. Cars dies again. No advance warning again. Thankful in a parking lot again and not while making a turn on the highway. Towed to dealer again. Dealer now says they need to replace the battery again as well as the alternator (which was after market when I thought it was going to be OEM). Now their telling me that I have to pay for the labor cost of installing the new alternator! Another $976 plus tax. Why should I be paying a ridiculous amount again when they are the ones who should guarantee their work. I, worried that there is an electrical issue with this vehicle. Do I have any recourse? Should I be paying this labour cost again? Should hey not stand behind the work and get those costs back from whoever they bought the part from? Please help?
Hi Bella, thanks for your question. If you believe the problems with your car have been caused by the repair shop, this would be considered a quality-of-service issue. Our blog has a post where you can explore your options for quality-of-service issues. I hope this helps!