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How to Handle a Dent after Getting Your Car Back from the Garage

See a ding that wasn't there before? Here's what to do about it.


  • Step 1: Decide if continuing a possibly long and costly bureaucratic complaint process is worth the effort. If so, use the state's rep as a mediator.
  • TIP: Some state DMVs, such as New York, may hold a hearing with both parties present to determine liability.
  • Step 2: Contact your local small claims court. Prepare a cogent case for any hearing. Ask if the court has mediators available to assist you in the courtroom.
  • Step 3: Consult a consumer rights attorney if you lose in small claims court and still believe that you're in the right. This can be expensive.
  • TIP: Tell the state rep that you're willing to negotiate with the garage.
  • Step 4: Discuss your complaint with the state agency's representative. Find out if you have the legal burden to prove that the garage employees were negligent.
  • TIP: Remain courteous and calm when inquiring about the newly found dent in your car.
  • Step 5: Contact your auto insurance company if the garage's insurance won't cover repairs or they deny responsibility. Find out if your insurance will cover the repairs.
  • Step 6: Negotiate with the garage owner if your insurance doesn't fully cover the repairs. If they are inflexible, warn that you'll complain to a state agency.
  • Step 7: Go to your state's DMV or Auto Repair Bureau website. File a complaint describing the unresolved issue with the garage.
  • Step 8: Speak to the garage owner or manager. Ask if the garage has insurance to cover the costs of repairing the dent in your car.

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