Did a local garage cause a fault on my Citroen C5 and what can I do about it?

I took my Citroen C5 into a local independent garage for a new head gasket. The garage said it would take the best part of a week and quoted approx. £500. At the end of the week they phoned to say that they had completed the head gasket repair but now had a problem getting the hydraulic suspension system to raise and the car was stuck on the ramp. I assured the garage there had been no fault with the suspension system before the car went to their garage and the garage owner was adamant it was nothing they had done. Several days later the garage had still not managed to sort the problem out and booked the car in to be looked at by the Citroen dealer in the town where we live, who could not look at the car for another week.

By the Thursday of third week we had heard nothing from the garage even though we knew Citroen would have looked at the car by now, so popped into the Citroen dealer who informed us the BHI unit was not working and needed new one at cost of £1100 (they had informed the garage the previous day of this). I went to look at the car which looks in a sorry state, and now also has visible damage to the underneath of the front bumper, probably caused when removed from the ramp or from the trailer it was transported to Citroen on. I then contacted the garage who said he didn't want to pay for the repair. I explained I was unhappy he had not informed me what the problem was and also that I had noticed more damage to the car. He eventually agreed to tell Citroen to go ahead with the work.

This job should be done in the next few days, however I am now worried that there may be other damage and that he will take the car back to his garage as he said he will sort out the bumper. I do not have much confidence in him touching the car again and am also concerned that he may try and charge me for the work Citroen are doing. I am now also concerned about the original repair of the head gasket and also by the end of this week I will have been without a car for four weeks. I don't want to pay him anything. As he authorised Citroen to do the current work do I have to let him take may car back to his garage or can I ask Citroen to fix any other damage and charge him? If he does take the car back to his garage can I refuse to pay for the original repair?

Asked on 12 September 2010 by Brooklyn Heights

Answered by Honest John
£500 for a head gasket is dirt cheap. The work could not have destroyed the hydractive pump, so that must have been close to failure anyway. The failure of the pump prevented the car from being removed from the ramp because the suspension could not pump itself up to ride height. You cannot take a car to a small garage for a £500 repair on which he may have made maybe £100, then expect the garage owner to fork out for another repair costing £1100 or more. You need to discus this with the garage owner.
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