I recently sent my car to the garage for its MOT and service. It's a 1999 Nissan Almera so I wasn't expecting it to pass without some work being done to it.

However, when I got the invoice back it totals to £590. The list of actions taken includes replacing hand-brake cables, replacing rear brake pads and cleaning calipers and removing my drivers seat, welding washers and nuts to the seat base, bolting the seat base back on and refitting the seat. All in addition to the MOT and Service which are listed separately.

The MOT and service and the oils and such one would expect for a service total to about £220, which I am happy with as that's what I sent the car in for, but that still leaves £370 worth of extra work that I was never consulted over or phoned about.

Morally speaking I think it's ridiculous to carry out work this extensive without speaking to the customer, but my question is where I stand in legal terms. Does this fall under unsolicited services, or are they covered because I asked for the service?

  • Wow, in my state, that would be blatantly illegal. Here, shops are required to give the customer the choice of how to proceed for any repairs over $100.
    – barbecue
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 2:18
  • I found this publication (gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/…) which seems to spell out exactly what items need to be inspected, and what the criteria are for failure, you might want to ask the shop to explain exactly why they replaced the things they did.
    – barbecue
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


The garage should contact you before doing any work over and above that which you had already agreed.

This page from the AA might help you: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/legal-advice/garage-bill-too-much.html

If you authorise a garage to carry out only specific work, and to do no other work without further permission, then the garage is not entitled to claim payment for any extra work done.

If however it has done so, the garage may remove any unauthorised replacement parts fitted provided the old parts are properly re-installed on your vehicle. If for any reason this is no longer practicable, the garage should bear the loss.

The Citizen's Advice has this page: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/buying-or-repairing-a-car/problems-with-a-car-repair/

If you told the garage to do whatever needs to be done to fix the car, then you gave them the right to decide what work to do. You’ll have to pay if the work was necessary and the price is reasonable. Get a second opinion if you think the price isn’t reasonable.

If you only asked the garage to do a specific piece of work and they did extra work that you didn’t ask for, you can ask them to undo the work. If this isn't possible, you should insist you only pay for the work that was agreed.

I'd suggest talking to your local Citizen's Advice or Trading Standards...

  • This. If the garage can reasonably claim that you told them there were likely to be MOT failures and you wanted those fixed, then you don't have much of a legal case. Aside from the seat (a corrosion or rust problem?) the rest of what you describe sounds like "fixing rear brake and parking brake MOT test failures." If they considered the brake problems made the car "too dangerous to drive" your alternative would have been to pay somebody to tow it away, tow it back to the repair shop, and then pay for a complete MOT retest, on top of the actual cost of the repairs.
    – alephzero
    Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 1:43

In the circumstance you describe, any work that is not included in a standard service and is going to be charged should first be agreed with the customer.

Thankfully, the laws regarding consumer rights in the UK changed yesterday so should afford you some protection as they include services (i.e. work which is purely labor).

Surely the morally correct course of action would have been to conduct the MOT and if any of the failure items would not subsequently be rectified in the service, contact yourself and ask how you would like to proceed.

I'd draw your specific attention to the following paragraph;

For the first time, there are clear rules for what should happen if a service is not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed. For example, the business that provided the service must bring it into line with what was agreed with the customer or, if this is not practical, must give some money back

  • Thanks for the reply! That's pretty much what I'm thinking, I just wanted to find out whether there might be some nuance around the service etc. I've also looked up what's included in a full service on the garage's site and none of this stuff is included. I'm going to ring the garage today, but I'm just gathering as much information as possible so I'm not trying to argue from a position of ignorance. In addition, these items of work may not even have been failures, but I'm still finding out on that.
    – Kialandei
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 10:25

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