Change text size:   Increase font size   Reduce font size  |   Print page:   Print this page
  |   Contact us   
Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Motor vehicle warranty and repair disputes 

NSW Fair Trading provides a free dispute resolution service to motor vehicle owners, licensed motor dealers or licensed motor vehicle repairers with dealer guarantee or repair disputes. The following information outlines NSW Fair Trading’s dispute resolution process for warranty and repair disputes.

What is the aim of dispute resolution? 

The dispute resolution service offered by Fair Trading is a voluntary process between the motor vehicle owner and the licensed motor dealer or repairer.

Fair Trading aims to resolve disputes through mutual agreement.  Fair Trading will endeavour to bring the parties with the dispute together on site to resolve the dispute.  However, a teleconference may be arranged instead if preferred.

Top of page

What can be done before Fair Trading’s intervention? 

Both the vehicle owner and licensed motor dealer or repairer should try to resolve the dispute prior to Fair Trading’s intervention. This is preferable and can save both parties time and money.

If you are in dispute, follow these steps to seek a resolution:

  1. Discuss your concerns with the other party and explain the problem you have. Let the other party express their concerns or state their position.
  2. The parties should also be ready to discuss the issues relating to the dispute and have all relevant information about the dispute available. This could include:
    • invoices
    • receipts
    • sale contracts
    • prescribed forms
    • repair estimates
    • quotes
    • job cards
    • correspondence
    • technical reports.
  3. Both parties should put forward ideas or suggestions on how the dispute could be resolved and be prepared to negotiate an agreeable settlement.
  4. If you need advice, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 to discuss your problem.

Either party to a dispute can contact Fair Trading for advice on how to resolve a dispute prior to intervention.

Top of page

What does Fair Trading do when it receives a complaint? 

If unresolved, you can lodge a complaint with Fair Trading. online or by calling 13 32 20. When you lodge your complaint you should provide the details of the complaint as well as the vehicle identification and any documentation related to the matter such as quotes, reports or invoices.

Once lodged, the complaint will be allocated to a complaints officer who will assess the issues to determine:

  • the issues in dispute and options which will help to resolve the complaint, generally within 30 days
  • if a breach of the law has occurred
  • if the matter would be better handled by another organisation or by a Fair Trading Motor Vehicle Inspector.

Top of page

How does Fair Trading facilitate the dispute resolution process? 

If the matter is referred to a Motor Vehicle Inspector, a meeting at the dealership or repairer’s workshop may be arranged with all involved parties. Fair Trading inspectors are qualified tradespeople, who provide impartial assistance, meaning they do not represent either party. However, trade qualified inspectors are able to issue rectification orders to resolve disputes if repair work on a vehicle is incomplete or defective, or if a dealer guarantee has not been met. Rectification orders are enforceable and are able to be used as evidence before a tribunal. If a resolution is reached a Motor Vehicle Complaint Inspection Advice may be issued by the inspector and provided to you and the repairer.

If you believe the repairer has acted in a dishonest and unfair manner you should report it to Fair Trading. Dealers and repairers who are found to be dishonest or unfair or who perform repair work below the usual trade standard can be disciplined and their repairers licence may be suspended.

Top of page

During the dispute resolution process 

Both the vehicle owner and licensed motor dealer or repairer need to be prepared to put their points forward but also to listen to what the other party has to say.  It is beneficial for both parties to have suggestions on how the dispute could be settled.

Top of page

What is the role of the Fair Trading officer? 

Fair Trading officers are qualified and skilled in the area of dispute resolution and will:

  • provide impartial advice to the parties with a dispute
  • allow all parties to put forward their points
  • explain the relevant matters in the dispute
  • confirm that all relevant matters have been discussed
  • put forward suggestions as to the best way to resolve the dispute.

The Fair Trading officer will not:

  • take sides or represent either the vehicle owner or licensed motor dealer or repairer
  • continue with the dispute resolution process if the parties do not show a willingness to reach an agreeable settlement
  • offer any legal advice.

The Fair Trading officer cannot:

  • order any party in the dispute
    • to pay any money
    • to return a vehicle to any person
  • dismantle any components or diagnose any problem with a vehicle beyond what the officer is able to see or hear
  • force either party to continue with the dispute resolution process.

The dispute resolution process is voluntary and depends on the co-operation of both parties to succeed.

Top of page

What happens if there is no resolution? 

If the dispute is not resolved either party may lodge a claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

NCAT can make orders which are binding on the parties. These may include payment of monetary amounts or repair work to be completed on a vehicle. The maximum claim that can be made through the NCAT is $40,000, except where the claim relates to a new motor vehicle used for private purposes.

Top of page

Get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can access PDF versions of our information.