How To Complain About Car Dealership Service

How To Complain About Car Dealership Service

Purchasing a new or used vehicle from a car dealership can be an exciting experience. But what happens when something goes wrong? Perhaps the buying process felt rushed or misleading. Maybe maintenance work wasn’t completed

properly or extra unnecessary charges showed up on your bill. When you receive subpar service from a car dealership, it can quickly dampen your new car enthusiasm. Poor customer service from car dealerships unfortunately happens far

too often. In some cases, it may be an honest mistake by a dealership employee. Other times, dealerships deliberately take advantage of customers through shifty sales tactics or unnecessary upcharges. Whatever the reason, as a paying customer you have a right to complain when you don’t receive satisfactory service.

Where to Complain During the Car Buying Process

Mistakes and misleading information sometimes occur during the car shopping and purchasing experiences. If you encounter an issue, bringing it up immediately gives the dealership a chance to correct it on the spot. Possible complaints may include:

  • Aggressive or dishonest sales tactics
  • Inaccurate information about a vehicle’s features or history
  • Hidden fees in the paperwork
  • Failure to honor advertised prices or promotions

When you run into a problem while shopping for and buying a car, here are effective ways to complain:

Talk to Your Salesperson
Calmly explain the issue to your salesperson first. There may have been a simple misunderstanding or error they can quickly fix. Give them a chance to make it right before taking it up the chain of command.

Speak to a Sales Manager
If the salesperson doesn’t resolve the problem to your satisfaction, don’t hesitate to request the sales manager. Politely explain your experience and what resolution you expect. Managers have authority to make accommodations like adjusting the price.

Ask for the General Manager
For more serious complaints, go straight to the dealership’s general manager. Calmly discuss the poor service you received and reasonable actions you expect in response. General managers have wide latitude to keep customers happy.

File a Written Complaint
Putting your experience in writing creates an official record. It also gives upper management a chance to investigate what happened. Send a complaint letter or email to the general manager documenting your poor service.

Contact Corporate Headquarters\
For dealership chains, submit a complaint to their corporate headquarters as well. The customer service department will want to know if one of their dealerships is harming the brand’s reputation.

Report Fraudulent Activity
If a dealership is engaging in clearly illegal practices like odometer fraud, file complaints with entities like your state Attorney General’s office to spur investigations.

Having a paper trail via written complaints and contacting upper management can be effective ways to seek resolution when problems occur during the car buying process.

Where To Complain During The Car Buying Process
Where to Complain During the Car Buying Process

How to Complain About Dealership Service Departments

So you’ve purchased your new car. But what if issues with the dealership service department emerge down the road? From botched repairs to unnecessary work, you may need to complain about poor service when maintaining your vehicle. Here are tips for getting your voice heard regarding dealership service departments:

Discuss Issues with Service Advisors
Service advisors are your first line of contact at the dealership service department. Calmly explain any errors or problems with an auto repair to give them a chance to fix it.

Request to Speak to the Service Manager
Elevate larger complaints about poor repairs, billing issues, or rude service to the Dealership Service Manager. They oversee the department and have power to correct problems.

Document Everything in Writing
Creating a paper trail is key for chronic issues. Write complaint letters describing your experiences and expected resolutions. Send to both dealership management and corporate if applicable.

Reach Out to Manufacturers
For issues involving warranty repairs, contact the automaker’s corporate office as well. Manufacturers want to know if consumers are having poor service experiences at their branded dealerships.

Utilize Arbitration
Many states require dealerships to offer arbitration programs for customer disputes. File a request with the dealership or state consumer protection agency to have your case reviewed.

Report Safety Issues
If a repair shop performed dangerous repairs that compromised safety, file official complaints with places like the Better Business Bureau or NHTSA to protect others.

Post Online Reviews\
Share your bad service publicly by posting factual reviews on sites like Google or Yelp after giving the dealership a chance to remedy the situation. Negative reviews motivate companies to improve.

Social media provides a powerful platform for lodging complaints about dealership service.

How To Complain About Dealership Service Departments
How to Complain About Dealership Service Departments

Steps to Take for Issues with Car Repairs

You’ve likely experienced a repair shop recommending questionable repairs or failing to fix your car properly. Here are tips for getting your voice heard when mechanics carry out subpar service:

Get a Second Opinion
If recommended repairs seem unnecessary, get a second opinion at an independent mechanic. They can inspect your car and confirm whether more work is truly needed.

Contest Invoices
Don’t blindly pay questionable charges. Contest any invoice line items for repairs you didn’t authorize or that weren’t completed. Push back on charges above estimates as well.

Request a Refund
Ask for a full or partial refund if repairs weren’t done correctly. Most reputable shops will rectify botched jobs by refunding your money so you can go elsewhere.

Threaten Small Claims Court
Warn repeat offenders you’ll pursue legal action in small claims court over shoddy repairs. The hassle and cost of court motivates shops to reach an agreement.

Report Mechanics to the State
Each state has a Department of Consumer Affairs you can report bad mechanics to, potentially leading to investigations or disciplinary actions if licensing was violated.

Leave Online Reviews
Post truthful poor reviews on sites like Yelp detailing your experience if issues weren’t corrected. They serve as a warning to other consumers.

Voicing complaints directly to shop management in a professional manner should be your first strategy when repairs go wrong. But taking additional steps like getting a second opinion or pursuing legal action protects you as a consumer if problems persist.

Steps To Take For Issues With Car Repairs
Steps to Take for Issues with Car Repairs
Stage IssueAction Steps
Car BuyingAggressive sales tactics, inaccurate vehicle info, hidden feesSpeak to salesperson > sales manager > general manager > file written complaints > contact corporate
Service DepartmentBotched repairs, billing issues, unnecessary workTalk to service advisor > service manager > contact vehicle manufacturer > arbitration > online reviews
Car RepairsUnneeded repairs, overcharging, incomplete workGet second opinion > contest invoice > request refund > threaten legal action > report to state
key steps for lodging effective complaints about car dealership service:

Best Practices for Filing Effective Dealership Complaints

To maximize results when lodging complaints about car dealership service, follow these best practices:

Act Quickly
Don’t delay in informing the dealership about any issues. Bringing problems to their attention ASAP increases the chances of reaching a simple resolution.

Stay Calm
Avoid turning complaints into confrontations. Politely yet firmly explain the situation and your expectations without too much emotion. Cooler heads prevail.

Collect Evidence
Gather proof like receipts, photos, copies of paperwork, warranties, recordings, emails, etc. Concrete evidence bolsters your position.

Know Your Rights
Understand protections like Lemon Laws and your rights regarding warranty repairs so dealers can’t take advantage of you.

Use a Professional Tone
Whether talking to the manager or writing complaint letters, maintain a mature, businesslike tone. You’ll be taken more seriously.

Aim for Win-Win
Approach resolutions as mutually beneficial. Aim for an outcome where both you and the dealership walk away satisfied.

Follow Up
Don’t let issues go unresolved. Politely follow up your complaints with the dealership until you reach a satisfactory outcome.

By promptly yet diplomatically complaining and providing evidence to support your experience, you have the best chance of achieving a positive resolution and improved service moving forward.

When to Take Your Business Elsewhere

If polite complaints to dealership management don’t improve your service, you may have to take more drastic action by taking your business elsewhere.

Signs it may be time to cut ties with a dealership include:

  • Chronic issues with repairs or billing
  • Safety concerns due to improper servicing
  • Unresponsiveness to your repeated complaints
  • Outright hostile or abusive responses when you complain
  • Refusal to provide satisfactory resolutions

Don’t reward bad dealerships with repeat business. Find an automotive company that values customer satisfaction if chronic complaints fall on deaf ears.


Q: What is the best way to complain about issues I had during the car buying process?
A: First bring the problem to your salesperson’s attention, then escalate to the sales manager if needed. For more serious issues, file written complaints with the dealership’s general manager and corporate headquarters.

Q: What should I do if the dealership service department damages my car or does poor quality repairs?
A: Calmly speak with the service advisor and manager first. If the issue persists, file written complaints, contact the vehicle manufacturer, and post negative reviews online after giving them a chance to make it right.

Q: How can I contest unnecessary repairs or charges recommended by the dealership?
A: Request a second opinion from an independent mechanic. Don’t blindly pay questionable charges. Ask for refunds for unauthorized or uncompleted work. Threaten small claims court for chronic issues.

Q: What is the best way to complain without it turning into a confrontation?
A: Always remain calm and professional in your complaints, whether in person or writing letters. Focus on resolving the issue, not attacking dealership staff.

Q: When is it time to take my business to another dealership?
A: If complaints consistently go ignored and issues remain unresolved, take your business elsewhere. Don’t reward bad dealerships with repeat business.

Q: Should I post negative reviews about poor service online?
A: Only post truthful reviews on sites like Google or Yelp after giving the dealership a chance to remedy the situation first. Use reviews as a last resort.

Q: How can I maximize my chances of getting a positive resolution?
A. Act quickly, have evidence to support your complaint, know your rights, follow up persistently yet politely, and aim for a win-win outcome.

Q: What government agencies can help with dealership complaints?
A: You can report safety issues to the NHTSA, fraud to your state Attorney General, and mechanic license violations to the state Department of Consumer Affairs.


No one enjoys complaining, but promptly speaking up about car dealership service issues is critical to get problems resolved. Dealerships often rectify issues to appease unhappy customers and avoid negative reviews. Following consumer

complaint best practices greatly improves your changes of achieving a positive outcome. Just remember to remain calm, collected, and constructive in your criticism. With persistence and a professional approach, you can get satisfaction by

filing effective complaints when car dealerships don’t meet your expectations. You have more power than you think as a paying customer. Find your voice and use it to demand better service. Here’

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