Generally, yes you can. However, you cannot repair vehicles on a road if it’s during the course of business or if it’s for gain or reward.
If you are repairing your own car, it is perfectly legal to fix or work on your car on the streets or on a private driveway in the UK. However generally it is illegal to do so if you are a business, garage or dealer. The only exception to this is if you are repairing a vehicle that has broken down in transit, at this point you have 72 hours to effect roadside repairs.
Private vehicle repairs
Whilst it may not be illegal for an individual car owner to work on a vehicle on the public highway. It can often cause a nuisance to local residents and it can take up valuable car parking spaces. Repairing vehicles on the street can also look unsightly, leading to damage of the local environment and present a danger to passers-by. You also need to consider the danger of working on a car in a public place. So if you have no choice but to repair your vehicle on the public highway try to carry out these repairs in as safe a location as possible and in a timely manner.
Business vehicle repairs
If you are a garage, car dealer or flipper it is illegal to carryout mechanical repairs on the public highway, the only exception to this is if you are responding to a breakdown. This also includes repairing cars on the street or pavement outside your property or a customers.
The same rules apply to mechanics and workshop businesses using the public highway as an extension of their garages. You may get away with it on a few occasions. But you will likely receive a visit from the local authorities if you continue to operate in this way. Local authorities will also likely get involved if you are repeatedly parking cars on pavements or blocking residents driveways.
Such complaints can lead to visits from the local council and authorities. Which my have further consequences for the running of the business and can often involve fines. If you work on cars outside your private property may also be caught out for not have the necessary provisions for dealing with used engine oils etc. As a business you can also be prosecuted under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
Consequences of repairing vehicles on the public highway
If you are reported for repairing vehicles on the public highway you can expect a visit from the local council or possibly the police. Officers will investigate reports of illegal vehicle repairs or sales, to determine whether it causes annoyance, or is part of a business illegally operating on the public highway.
In cases of unlicensed street trading and repairs the authorities have the power to seize goods and issue fixed penalty fines. The offence is also prosecutable in a magistrate court.
Fixed penalty fines will often run to a few hundred pounds, however the courts currently have the power to issue fines up to £2,500 per offence. So the consequences can be significant if you are a repeat offender.
Other consequences may take the form of vandalism from aggravated neighbours. With damage to the cars you are repairing and you property being a possibility. You are unlikely to get much help from the police or counsel if you are known for being a nuisance in the area.
It is perfectly legal and acceptable to carry out repairs to you vehicle on the street or public highway if you are working on your own car. But you should always make sure it’s a safe place to do so and give consideration to you local neighbourhood and the environment. Consideration should also be given to the scale of the works and whether the roadside is a suitable place to carryout larger jobs.
If you are a business it is clear that in almost all cases it is illegal to carryout repairs on the street. Whether this is outside your own premises or a customers.
If you are a part-time car flipper, mechanic or car dealer operating from home, working on the highway is also illegal and should be avoided. Constantly annoying neighbours and local residents is a bad idea and could lead to you being harassed and fined by local authorities. So any work being carried out at home should be undertaken on private land or driveways, and you should go out of your way to avoid annoying your neighbours.