Frequently asked questions

General information about The Motor Ombudsman

What is an ombudsman service?

An ombudsman service is an impartial body that considers consumer complaints about a variety of issues relating to organisations in both the private and public sectors. It’s tasked with reaching outcomes for both parties which are fair and reasonable as an alternative to going to court.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and what does it mean for me?

ADR has been around for a while and comes in a variety of forms - and refers to ways of resolving disputes between consumers and businesses that don't involving going to court. This can save both parties time, stress and money as the process of ADR is much quicker and simpler. ADR is now governed in the UK by a set of regulations which came into force on 1 October 2015.

Who are we?

We are the automotive dispute resolution (ADR) body. We are the first voluntary and fully-impartial private sector ombudsman for the automotive sector, providing a self-regulatory environment for the industry using our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Codes of Practice. We complement consumer law rather than being a substitute for it.

We are not:

  • A consumer or industry champion
  • A regulator
  • A government-backed watchdog
What key benefits do we offer you when you come to us?
  • The ENTIRE dispute resolution process is free of charge, from the raising of a case through to the awarding of a final decision by our in-house ombudsman
  • You have added peace of mind that you are dealing with a reputable and trustworthy business and that, in the rare instance that you have a dispute which cannot be resolved directly with the trader, you have someone to turn to
  • You have the ability to leave transparent feedback and recommendations on garages and dealers that you have dealt with
  • You have access to genuine online reviews and ratings on our Garage Finder to make an informed decision for servicing, repairs, and when buying a new or used vehicle
  • You have free use of online resources on this website such as the vehicle recall database and our Knowledge Base
I have a complaint about The Motor Ombudsman - what do I do?

In the event where you feel the service you have received from The Motor Ombudsman has not met the standards that you’d expect, you can raise a formal complaint.
Firstly, you can tell us your complaint over the telephone, or send us a letter or email. It will initially be handled by the person handling your case or enquiry (if a case has not been raised), or they may refer it to their team leader.

If you remain unhappy with the response you have received from them, you may escalate the complaint to the Head of Customer Services and Quality. This should preferably be provided in writing, although please let us know if we need to make any adjustments for you. The Head of Customer Service and Quality will then carry out a full review of the complaint and respond within 15 working days.

In exceptional circumstances, the complaint can be referred by the Head of Customer Services and Quality to the Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director and they may respond directly.

If your complaint is about the outcome of a final decision, please note that there is no right of review of the outcome internally and neither the Head of Customer Service and Quality nor the Chief Ombudsman can overturn the decision of an Ombudsman. However, you retain the right to pursue the matter via alternative channels if you remain dissatisfied with the decision.

Can I leave the ADR process at any time?

Yes, you are free to leave the process at any time.

The Motor Ombudsman Process

Can we deal with your dispute?

We are able to help resolve your dispute, if:

You made a purchase from a business that is accredited to us


You have been through the accredited business’ in-house complaints handling procedure. We cannot start to investigate your complaint until you and the accredited business have had a proper chance to try and resolve the problem yourselves. This means that you must have made a complaint to the accredited business, preferably in writing, and have given them up to eight weeks to provide their final answer to your complaint in writing before approaching us. Please note that you can ask us to investigate further as soon as you receive a final response from the accredited business.


Your purchase was made within the last six years.

How do I find out whether an independent garage or franchised dealership is accredited to The Motor Ombudsman?

You can find this out by entering your postcode or the name of the business into our online Garage Finder.

You can also check which manufacturers and vehicle warranty product providers are accredited to the New Car Code or Vehicle Warranty Products Code by visiting here for the New Car Code and here for the Vehicle Warranty Products Code.

What happens if the business that you have a dispute with is not accredited to us?

If a business is not accredited, The Motor Ombudsman can point you in the right direction for where to go next to resolve your dispute such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

How will my dispute be handled?

Once we’ve got your details, our legally-trained adjudicators will:

  • Review your side of the story – and get a response from the other party;
  • Find out the facts and weigh everything up; and
  • Tell you and the business what they think

If we think there's just been a misunderstanding, we’ll explain why. There may also be times where the offer already made is considered reasonable in the circumstances, or there just isn’t enough information for us to be able to make a fair decision.

If we decide you’ve been treated unfairly, or that something has gone wrong, we'll tell the business to put things right. Any award we make will be to put you back in the position you would have been in had the problem not happened.

You don’t have to agree with what we say - at any point, you can let us know that you no longer want our help.

How long will it take to get a resolution to my case?

This will depend on the nature of the dispute. If it’s just a case of talking things through with you and the accredited business, then it might be a few days.

If we need to find out more information, it could be a few months. It could also take longer if you or the accredited business want an ombudsman to make a final decision.

What’s the deadline?

You need to contact us within 12 months of the date of the accredited business’s final response to your complaint, or from the date you made the complaint if no response was received.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me during the ADR process?

No. Our service is intended for use without legal representation. We can work directly with you and we’ll explain anything you’re not sure about.

If you like, we can talk to a member of your family, a friend or someone else who’s helping you – like Citizens Advice. We will just need you to put something in writing to show that you give your permission for them to discuss your complaint with us.

Can I still go to court even though I have gone to The Motor Ombudsman with my dispute?

Yes. If you disagree with an ombudsman’s final decision, you can still take your complaint to court, but they can take the decision into account when they deliver their ruling. You and the accredited business in question may be liable for any legal fees associated with the case.

What is the maximum that The Motor Ombudsman can award?

The Motor Ombudsman can make an award up to an equivalent value of £10,000 - in addition to the value of your vehicle if your complaint is about the sale of a car. Complaints for amounts in excess of that sum need to be pursued elsewhere.

How do I get in touch with The Motor Ombudsman if I can’t find the answer or information that I am looking for on the website?

To call us, please dial 0345 241 3008 and select option 1. Lines are open between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays. Please note that our phone lines can be very busy.

You can contact us by e-mail at

You can write to us at:

The Motor Ombudsman Ltd
71 Great Peter Street
What languages is your service available in?

All of our documents are available in English but our teams would be pleased to work with a translator if required.