Del Raymond E. Vickery Jr. (D-Fairfax) knew his bill to license car-repair garages was not going anywhere, but he took the floor yesterday at a House Roads Committe meeting to say it would not cost as much as its opponents said it would.

I" appear here chiefly today in defense of the integrity of our process," he told the committee yesterday. "The (federal) office of the secretary of transportation says much of the testimony against the bill was just flatly wrong and fisleading."

Vickery was referring to the crucial public hearing on the bill held by the committee Jan. 31. Vickery had hoped that the Virginia Gasoline Retailers Association. A formidable opponent of past -- but more stringent -- licens-compromise bill at the hearing.

It didn't work out quite that way.

The association's scheduled speaker, counsel Gary L. Denton, could not appear because his wife had a baby that morning. Substitute speaker James W. Heizer, the association's executive secretary, said California's licensing law $6 million annually, had a staff of 150 employes and yet revoked the licenses of only five shops.

The testimony made a powerful impression on most of the legislators, who are generally fiscally conservative.

But at yesterday's committee meeting. Vickery read a letter from John Reishtrup, chief of the consumer affairs division of the Department of Transportation. Reistrup said the California licensing office has suspended or revoked 250 licenses in its five-year history, won refunds or repairs worth nearly $800,000 to consumers, and that all program costs come from the $50 registrationing efforts, would support his fee required of each car-repair garage.

Vickery said afterward, "The traditional pattern in the General Assembly is that something is introduced and then defeated, the second time it is studied, the third time is passed by, and the fourth or fifth time you get something. . . This is certainly not a victory for the public but it seems to be in accord with the way this body works."

Nonetheless Del Donald A. McGolthlin Sr. (D-Buchanan), chairman of the subcommittee to which the measure was sent, said after Vickery spoke: "There is more than one way to approach the aim of this bill. The best thing is that it be carried over to the next session."

When a bill is carried over, it is dead as far as the current session of the General Assembly is concerned. But it won't have to be re-introduced next year, and the House Roads Committee, which meets throughout the year, could take up the issue between sessions.