Trading Standards teams have a number of different things to consider but there is no denying that the work carried out by car garages and dealers across the UK keep them busy. The sums of money involved in the car industry and the potential dangers that can arise when cars are in bad condition or quality means that there is more than enough to keep professionals occupied with respect to claims.
In Devon and Somerset along, over 2,000 complaints are made with respect to car servicing and second hand cars. When you extrapolate these figures out across the entire country, it is obvious that this is an area that is very important to people and to the Trading Standards teams that have to deal with them.
Since April of 2015, officers in this part of the country have checked on 56 businesses which include car forecourts, trading which sell used tyres and garages. There have also been instances of Trading Standards officers booking cars in for free safety checks to ensure that the dealer or garage is working in a truthful manner. There is a lot of work involved with keeping people safe and checking on the work undertaken by garages and dealers.
Dodgy car dealers need to be highlighted
There have been negative findings from a number of these investigations. 18 visits to forecourts have led to 13 cars being withdrawn from sale. This is clearly damaging for a business but if a car is not fit for purpose, there is no way it can be allowed to be sold. At best, the new buyer will end up paying a lot of money to care for the car but at worst, a car in an unsafe condition for the road could cause injuries and even fatalities. It may be that the garage isn’t fully aware of the issues surrounding the car but this is not an excuse that can be used in mitigation.
The checks also found that 38 premises were selling tyres that were part worn. This is currently a Road Safety offence which means that the car owner could face a fine and they could even have penalty points added to their licence. While the car owner should have a greater level of interest and awareness in the condition of their car’s tyres, you can see why many people would rely on a garage to sell them tyres in good condition. Given that many people don’t have the time or experience with respect to cars, they turn to experts for guidance and support. However, if it turns out that many of the experts and professionals cannot be trusted or relied upon, the entire car and garage industry will suffer.
Car garages need to show that they provide a safe standard of service
Other issues found by Trading Standards in Devon and Somerset included 23 traders who lacked adequate documentation with respect to their business and the services they offer and 14 businesses which had labelling which was non-compliant. Trading Standards officers also found 13 part-worn tyres that contained structural defects and again, these were removed from sale.
Of the 13 garages where a Trading Standards officer booked a car in for a free safety check, 12 garages passed but one trader failed. In this instance, the car was returned to the Trading Standards officer in an unsatisfactory condition, with the issue relating to the brakes. Given the importance of brakes in driving safely, it is easy to see why an issue like this would be of great concern to Trading Standards teams. The general motorist wouldn’t take their car for a test after being told it had been deemed safe by a garage, they would assume that the vehicle was in good condition and then use the car in their normal manner. This sort of behaviour is putting people’s lives at risks and whether the garage acted in good faith and made a mistake or were acting in a fraudulent matter doesn’t really matter, the final outcome is the issue that matters to the Trading Standards team.
Given the potential dangers associated with unsafe cars, it is no surprise that defence solicitors are engaged in providing a robust defence for clients facing charges and allegations in this area. Using an independent garage is often a sensible and affordable choice but it pays to find the local garage that provides a safe standard of service.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.