Garages and mechanics under Trading Standards spotlight

Trading Standards officers in Somerset and Devon have released the results of a year-long operation that aimed to make sure car dealers and mechanics were operating within the law.

Around 2,000 complaints are received each year by the service from people who have bought used cars or had work done on their vehicle that they believe is not up to scratch and is unsafe.

Running a reputable dealership that operates legally includes having the correct levels of motor trade insurance and road risks insurance to cover your business. You should also ensure that customers’ vehicles are covered by your insurance while they are on your premises for repair.

The Devon and Somerset Trading Standards service inspected forecourts and traders selling used tyres.They found 23 of the premises had inadequate documentation and 14 had non-compliant labelling. Officers also uncovered 13 partly worn tyres that had structural defects and the businesses were ordered to withdraw them from sale.

Officers also posed as members of the public putting a car into garages that offered free safety checks. The initiative was designed to see whether mechanics were reporting genuine faults when they checked the car. Of the 13 garages that were tested, 12 passed the test but one sent the car back in an “unsatisfactory condition” after carrying out work on the brakes.

The investigation also resulted in 13 cars being withdrawn from sale at checks at 18 forecourts across the two counties.

The service is part of the Buy With Confidence Scheme and a member of Devon and Somerset Trading Standards sits on the Used Car Commission.

Paul Thomas, head of Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service, said: “The new provisions of the Consumer Rights Act provide an opportunity for improved levels of consumer satisfaction but this will only be achieved if both traders and consumers are aware of, and understand, their rights and obligations.”