Repair and service a vehicle

You should regularly maintain your vehicle to protect its value and make sure it is safe to drive.

Problems with your vehicle

If your vehicle develops a problem, what you can do depends on how you bought it.

If you bought a new vehicle and it is still under warranty, you should talk to the dealer.

If you bought a used car through a licensed motor vehicle dealer, you may have received a statutory warranty when you bought it.

If you bought through a private seller, you will have to pay to have the problem fixed.

How the statutory warranty works

Under a statutory warranty, the dealer must repair any defect if:

  • it happens before the vehicle has been driven 5,000km after the sale
  • or it happens within three months after you take possession.

The dealer must repair the vehicle to a reasonable condition for its age and distance travelled.

Statutory warranty does not apply in any of the following circumstances:

  • the vehicle is more than 10 years old
  • the vehicle has travelled more than 160,000km
  • it is a motorcycle that is more than 5 years old or has travelled more than 30,000km
  • the defect is a result of misuse or negligence.

Statutory warranty does not apply to some commercial vehicles of particular types, or vehicles sold under an unexpired manufacturer’s warranty.

Find out more about warranties.

Service your vehicle

New and second-hand cars should come with a logbook or owner’s handbook. The handbook will say when the vehicle should be serviced and what maintenance needs to be done.

To avoid breakdowns or expensive repairs in the future, you should follow the maintenance schedule for that particular make or model.

If the vehicle is still under warranty and you don’t follow the regular maintenance schedule set out by the manufacturer, you may void your warranty.

As long as a service is carried out in accordance with a manufacturer’s specifications you can use any mechanical repairer to service your vehicle. 

You don’t have to use the dealer you bought it from.

When you book a service, you should clearly explain the type of service you need. Be aware that there will be different costs for different types of services.

If you don’t have a logbook or handbook and you are not sure what service you need, ask the repairer to explain what is involved and how much each service costs.

Repair your vehicle

In the Northern Territory, repairers don’t have to be licensed to work on your vehicle, have specific equipment in their workshop, or employ only qualified tradespeople.

However, under Australian Consumer Law services must be carried out with due care and skill, and any material supplied must be fit for purpose.

Get a quote or estimate

Always ask for a cost estimate or a written quote to fix a problem with your vehicle. You may need to test drive it with the repairer, for example, to hear a rattle that only happens at a certain speed.

Sometimes the repairer will have to dismantle parts to diagnose the problem and prepare a quote. If you decide not to carry out the repair they are still entitled to charge a fee for the quote.

The repairs should not cost you any more than what is written in the quote.  A repairer can't charge you more than what you have agreed to in the quote.

If the repairer sees that additional work is required when carrying out the repair, then they should provide a quote to you, preferably in writing, before carrying out the extra work.

You should respond in writing whether you want the repair to happen at this time.

Read more about quotes and estimates.

If you are unhappy with repairs

If you are unhappy with repairs you can:

  • tell the repairer you are not happy - explain the problem and offer solutions to give them an opportunity to fix it
  • if you are still unhappy, put the problem and your solution in writing addressed to the manager - ask for a written response within a reasonable time frame.

You should keep records of all your correspondence, noting names of people you spoke to, dates and advice received.

If the problem is still unresolved, you can call Consumer Affairs on (08) 8999 1999 or 1800 019 319 for help. A fair trading officer will help try to reach a solution acceptable to you and the repairer.

Read more about disputes with a business.

For more advice contact NT Consumer Affairs.

Last updated: 27 June 2017