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Motor Ombudsman sees busiest quarter of year for service and repair cases

  • Number of service and repair disputes rose to highest level for single quarter this year
  • Drivetrains sparked most consumer dissatisfaction during Q3, says Motor Ombudsman
  • Diesel cars were source of more than half of service and repair complaints in latest quarter
  • Cost-of-living crisis, rather than falling standards, cited as one of reasons for increase
  • Free repair, compensation and full refund were most-requested resolutions by consumers

Time 10:55 am, October 11, 2023

The Motor Ombudsman saw service and repair cases rise to their highest figure for a single quarter so far this year.

The dispute resolution service took on 1,348 new submissions from motorists between July 1 and September 30 – up 10% from 1,226 in the second quarter and a 13% increase versus the number seen during Q1 (1,189).

The Q3 total also surpassed last year’s tally for the same period by 9% (1,238).


Diesel cars were responsible for more than half (52%) of the complaints during the past three months, followed by petrol models (40%), electric vehicles (4%) and hybrids (4%).

But the ombudsman said the 3,763 total so far this year has most likely been sparked by the cost-of-living crisis allied with a greater likelihood to complain to help claw back perceived losses, rather than because of falling standards.

Just over half (51%) of the complaints in Q3 stemmed from disputes logged within the drivetrain category, with the engine responsible for 73% of them.


Customer service accounted for the second-highest number of disputes (17%).

They included prolonged delays to repairs, sometimes without a courtesy car, vehicles being damaged while at the business, and customers paying for diagnostic work that didn’t identify the root cause of the faults reported.

During Q3, the top three most-requested resolutions sought by most consumers to help sort their dispute were free repairs (28%), followed by compensation (25%), and a full refund (22%).

When money was wanted, it stood at an average of £4,258 – an increase of 16% versus the £3,675 seen for the first six months of 2023.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and MD of The Motor Ombudsman, said: ‘This year has seen a notable uplift in the volume of contacts received from consumers, and the number of cases accepted with regards to a service or repair.

‘With the rising costs to maintain and keep a car on the road, combined with other significant financial pressures on households, this is driving a greater likelihood to make a complaint.’

He added: ‘With the current trend showing no let-up in the volume of cases accepted by our service, we expect to receive in excess of 5,000 service and repair disputes by year-end, and as we look ahead to the coming months, 2024 is likely to follow a similar trend, according to current projections.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.



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