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How much should I pay to fix my car's steering?

Q Conor writes about an issue he is having with the power steering on his Audi A3, bought in 2006.

"My wife drives the car more often than I do and she felt the steering was getting stiff last week."

One day the steering was so bad that the car couldn't be driven. A mechanic was called and advised Conor to go to Audi who then provided an estimate of almost €2,000 for parts and repair.

"The mechanic tells me that the steering could have gone at any time", adds Conor.

A Your consumer rights only kick in if there is a fault with the car. However, if it is the first steering problem with the car, it seems unlikely that there was a fault at purchase, and I note on the garage's estimate provided that there have been no recall issues.

If, however, you bought it second-hand recently, and were told the steering was fine, you have a better argument there as it could be that the condition of the car was misdescribed to you at purchase.

But, Conor will need the advice of an independent mechanic to work out if a fault was present, or whether this is normal wear-and-tear.

With regard to the repair estimate, Conor is under no obligation to get it repaired at an Audi garage. And whether he has the car repaired with an Audi garage or at an independent, as the parts are being quoted at over €800 he can reduce this cost by requesting OEM (original equipment manufacture) parts, which are the same, made in the same factory but just not in a branded box.

Conor said that Audi have offered a 'goodwill reduction' of €500. He said, "We'll probably go ahead with it".

Irish Independent