Vehicle warranty and repair disputes

NSW Fair Trading provides a free dispute resolution service that covers motor vehicle purchases, repairs, dealer guarantees and warranty disputes.

What is the aim of dispute resolution?

The dispute resolution service is a voluntary process between the motor vehicle owner and the licensed motor dealer or repairer. NSW Fair Trading will try to resolve the dispute face-to-face or by phone or in writing.

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 by themselves first. This will save both parties time and money. Here are some tips to help resolve a dispute:

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 information, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 to discuss your problem.

What does Fair Trading do when it receives a complaint?

If unresolved, you can lodge a complaint with Fair Trading online or visit a Service NSW centre.  When you lodge a complaint, provide the details of the complaint, the vehicle identification and any documentation related to the matter such as quotes, reports or invoices.

Once lodged, the complaint will be assessed  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.

How does Fair Trading facilitate the dispute resolution process?

If the matter is referred to a Motor Vehicle Inspector, the Inspector will contact you and the business involved in the dispute to seek a mutual resolution to your complaint. If required, the Inspector may arrange a meeting with all involved parties at the dealership or repairer’s workshop to view the vehicle to assist in resolving the dispute. Fair Trading inspectors are qualified tradespeople, who provide impartial assistance, meaning they do not represent either party. Trade qualified inspector’s in some instances are able to issue rectification orders to assist in the resolution of your dispute if repair work on a vehicle is incomplete or defective, or if a dealer guarantee has not been met. If a meeting is arranged to view the vehicle, both parties will be provided with a copy of the Complaint Inspection Advice.

What is the role of the Fair Trading officer?

Fair Trading officers are 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 cooperation of both parties to succeed.

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.

The Tribunal can make orders which are binding. The maximum claim that can be made through the Tribunal is $40,000, except where the claim relates to a new motor vehicle used for private purposes.

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