A mechanic who drove a customers car ‘like The Stig’ on a test drive was snared by a hidden dashcam. 

Gareth Lanka collected his one-litre Seat Ibiza after an oil change at National Tyres and Autocare in Bishop Auckland – but was puzzled when his engine was vibrating. 

He was stunned when he checked the dashcam footage and saw his four-year-old car ‘screaming’ at 78mph in a 60mph limit with the radio blasting in the background. 

The Northern Echo: Gareth's Seat Ibiza went in for an oil change Gareth's Seat Ibiza went in for an oil change (Image: Contributor)

Gareth, who is 38 and lives in Bishop Auckland, said: “I couldn’t believe it. My engine is screaming. It is not designed to be driven that way. 

“It is like they have hired The Stig and he took my car out for a spin. He has really ripped the guts out of it. I have never driven that way myself.” 

Halfords, who own National Tyres and Autocare, sacked the mechanic after seeing the footage and gave Gareth’s car a service and four new tyres after they were contacted by the Echo. 

Gareth said he would have been none-the-wiser if it were not for the video camera positioned behind his rear-view mirror, which is not visible to the driver. 

He said: “It has been wired so it is constantly recording and it saves straight onto my phone. 

“I could see them doing the work and flashing my lights and coming up to the car. 

“I think he is going to move the car, but then he had has taken it for a spin. 

“He has changed the radio station and turned up the music for Smooth to Capital. 

“The volume goes up and it is a bit of a dancey tune. He has definitely put his foot down. It is not as if he is listening for faults.” 

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The Northern Echo: Gareth Lanka Gareth Lanka (Image: Contributor)

Gareth, an area supervisor who depends on his car for work, was angry the driver could have put his licence at risk, but also because there was no issue with his vehicle before he took it to the garage for the oil change. 

He said: “When I picked it up, it had a vibration. When you go 50mph or above the sun visor shook, my gearstick shook, the back of my legs shook. 

"I could feel it and passengers could feel it as well. 

“I was gobsmacked with what I have seen on the footage. 

“I did not even know if they had to test drive it. 

“He drives it for six miles for 13 minutes in total. 

“He is doing almost 80mph in a 60 zone. By doing that he is putting my licence at risk. If he went through a speed camera those points would have come through my letter box, it could have been me losing my job.” 

Gareth said he was struggling to resolve the issue with Halfords, but the firm pledged to examine the car after it was contacted by the Northern Echo. 

A spokesman said the car was taken for a test drive as it had been in for a routine service to ensure proper functioning prior to being released. 

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The Northern Echo: Gareth took his car to National Tyres and Autocare in Bishop Auckland Gareth took his car to National Tyres and Autocare in Bishop Auckland (Image: Contributor)

He said a test drive with a duration of 20 minutes was specified in the terms and conditions Mr Lanka would have been given. 

However, the spokesman acknowledged the speed limit had been broken by an employee. 

He said: “Halfords acknowledges a recent incident involving an employee who breached company policy by exceeding the national speed limit during a routine test drive, resulting in their dismissal. 

“We have committed to re-assessing the vehicle under the supervision of a senior technician, and we are pleased to confirm that the customer has agreed to have the car checked.” 

Gareth said the car was collected on Monday and a fault with the wheel has now been rectified. 

The firm has supplied four new Pirelli tyres, replaced the brake pads and shoes, replaced the foam cannister for repairing punctures and offered to cover the cost of a service at a Seat garage. 

"I am happy with the outcome," added Gareth.

"The area manager has been really helpful throughout but I cannot say the same for the head office who had been dragging their heels. I am just pleased that it has finally been resolved."