Car and Motorcycle Repairs

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Repairing a car or motorcycle can be an expensive and frustrating experience. You have to deal with the inconvenience of not having your vehicle. And, to make things worse, you might be worried that the mechanic or garage owner is taking advantage of your lack of knowledge to make unnecessary repairs or inflate the bill.

If you're in this situation, you should know that the Consumer Protection Act has rules to prevent abuse when it comes to car and motorcycle repairs. 

Important! The rules explained in this article (estimates, bills, warranties, etc.) do not apply to repairs of less than $50 or to tire and battery installation when the purchase and installation are billed at the same time.

Written Estimates

A mechanic who repairs your car or motorcycle must give you a written estimate of the cost of the repairs, if she estimates that they will cost more than $100. If she charges a fee for an estimate, she must tell you the amount of the fee before making the estimate. If she does not, the estimate will be free! 

The person doing the repairs does not have to give you an estimate in these situations:

  • You give up your right to get an estimate by signing a document that you drafted yourself.
  • The repairs are done free of charge, for example, if they are completely covered by a warranty. 

The estimate must contain this information:

  • your name and address 
  • the name and address of the person doing the repairs 
  • the car or motorcycle's make, model and the registration number 
  • the nature of the repairs and the total price 
  • the part to be installed and its condition (new, used, re-conditioned or re-tooled)
  • the date of the estimate and how long it is applicable for

Respecting Written Estimates

When you've been given an estimate and accepted it, the person repairing your car or motorcycle must respect it. She cannot ask for more money, except for repairs that you authorize after getting the estimate.

Detailed Bills

Once the repairs have been done, the person who did the repairs must give you a detailed bill with this information:

  • your name and address
  • the name and address of the person who did the repairs 
  • the car or motorcycle's make, model and the registration number 
  • the date of delivery of the vehicle to the client
  • the number of miles or kilometres showing on the odometer on the date of delivery to the client
  • the repairs done 
  • the part installed and whether it's a new, used, re-tooled or re-conditioned part, and its price
  • the number of hours worked, the hourly rate and the total cost of labour
  • the taxes
  • the total amount you must pay 
  • features of the warranty  

Warranties on Repairs

Both the parts and the labour for repairs are guaranteed:

  • for a car: three months or 5,000 kilometres (whichever happens first)
  • for a motorcycle: one month

This warranty applies to the repairs only, and not to the whole vehicle! When you notice that repairs are not well done or that they haven't solved the problem, the person who did the repairs must make the necessary changes for free, as long as the warranty period is still in force. The warranty period begins when you get your vehicle back.   

Right of Garage to Keep the Vehicle Before Payment

Usually, the garage has the right to stop you from leaving with your vehicle until you've paid for the repairs.

However, a mechanic cannot keep your vehicle in the following situations:

  • She was obliged to give you a written estimate, but didn't do this before doing the repairs.
  • She wants you to pay more than the total amount agreed on, in other words, more than the amount in the written estimate plus any other amounts you agreed on.

Of course, you have to pay the total amount agreed on to get your vehicle back.

The Right to Get Back a Replaced Part

A mechanic must return a replaced part when she returns your vehicle if you asked for the part back when you asked for the repairs.

However, she's not obliged to return parts in these situations:

  • The repair was done free of charge (e.g., completely covered by a warranty).
  • The part is exchanged for a re-tooled or re-conditioned part.
  • If under the warranty, the part must be returned to the manufacturer or distributor.

 Solutions for Problems

To learn more about what you can do if a written estimate doesn't have the information required by law, if a mechanic doesn't respect an estimate, or in other situations, see Solving Problems: Options for Consumers.

Finally, if you think that you've been the victim of fraud or attempted fraud, you can make a complaint to the police.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.