/ Money, Motoring

Brief cases: complaining about major parts failing on new car

fixing car brakes

If you pay £21,000 for a brand new car, would you expect major parts to fail after three-and-a-half years and with only 13,000 miles on the clock?

Which? Legal member Robin Dadson came to us for help after important parts of his new car started to fail.

Robin paid around £21,000 for the then brand new Skoda Yeti Crossover in March 2013. By January 2016, when he had only driven it for 13,000 miles, he noticed the rear brake discs were corroded.

The original dealer was no longer trading, so he took the car back to its successor. Both the new dealer and Skoda said the problem was fair wear and tear. Skoda said the replacement wouldn’t be covered by warranty because of the time that had elapsed and it refused to take further action.

Ten months later, when Robin took the car in again for a check-up, the condition of the brakes was such that the dealer suggested Robin replace them.

It also highlighted a problem with the Haldex pump in the four-wheel drive. The costs of repairing the brake discs and pump was around £300 each.

At this stage, Robin came to our lawyers for advice.

Our advice on complaining about a faulty new car

We told Robin that if you pay £21,000 for a car, you could reasonably expect it not to have major parts failing after three-and-a-half years. So, although the original dealer had stopped trading, he could still complain to Skoda.

Robin got in touch with Skoda again, which rejected his claim. However, he persisted and, armed with our advice, took his complaint to a higher level.

He was then offered a ‘goodwill gesture’ of £300 in relation to the pump. Robin accepted this and reluctantly paid for the brake disc repairs himself. This solution compensated him for repairing one of the faulty parts and also took into account his having more than three years’ use of the car.

As Robin bought the car before 1 October 2015, his rights are under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for contracts after that date it’s the Consumer Rights Act 2015), which says that goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If they’re not, the customer can ask for them to be repaired or replaced within a reasonable time.

It can be tricky to exercise these rights when there is a dispute between the customer and seller over whether the items failed due to wear and tear or due to a breach of contract. So, it’s often necessary to get expert opinions.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you ever had to complain directly to a manufacturer about a faulty new car? Were you successful in receiving compensation?

ruth jackson says:
20 February 2018

I took my mobile phone in to be fixed it would not hold its charge and sometimes would not charge at all. The man in the shop said he could fix it and it would cost me £55.00. I picked my phone up after the repair was done and the man said it was fully charged but when I got home I could see the charge was draining. I took the phone back and he had another look at it he informed me he had changed the battery and it was fully charged yet again when I got home the battery was draining. I took the phone back and asked for my money back he refused and said he had paid for a new battery and work to be done on the phone so I replied but you have not fixed the problem. He said he would take another look at my phone so I said if you cannot fix it then can I have my money back he said no. What are my rights in this case .


Ruth -while at first glance you would think-faulty battery the real fault could be in the charging circuit not enough current being applied to the battery OR their is a partial short circuit in the phones PCB ( printed circuit board ) . What he should have done is kept the phone and tested it over a space of time, in this case I think you have a cause of legal action against him, you entered into a contract with him -it was not “satisfied ” ( fulfilled ) . I am sure one of the regulars will direct you to the appropriate authorities .

William Jackson says:
20 February 2018

I had a replacement mobility scooter my previous one had a fault and the part was going to take 2 months to arrive. So the mobility shop said they had given me on option of choosing a different scooter so I took that option. When I was in the shop they guy who sold me the replacement scooter said it had new batteries and it had been fully serviced and maintained throughout. I have had the scooter for around 4 weeks and the scooter itself had a battery issue. The battery’s are fully charged every night I know that so they took and tested it for the day then it was returned to me and they said they batteries where perfectly normal. so I had thought to myself great it has all been solved and thought nothing of it. so on Friday just gone I was out on it and the as I was going doing the road it had dropped dramatically resulting in the scooter having a full breakdown and waiting for the pick up truck to arrive to get me recovered and they took it back and said the battery’s are perfectly normal when really they are not.. What are my rights


William , if the dispute is over the efficiency of the batteries it is easy enough to get a second opinion from your nearest MOT test station where calibrated battery efficiency testers are used to determine the drop in efficiency with a test resistance across them which would be related to the normal current drain of a new mobility scooter. Armed with that evidence you can proceed from there . I would also ask them to check the current drain of the scooter as it stands in case the actual motor drive is faulty. If their findings point to a fault /faults in the scooter then you can make a claim against them.

Charles Gemmell says:
22 February 2018

Hi there I recently bought a wedding dress for my daughter which I stupidly paid in full (realise that now) I have the receipt which has the date off the wedding on it but the shop is stalling on giving me a delivery date,I am now hearing on Facebook of people who aren’t getting what they paid for from this shop and they are not trustworthy,I have been to CAB and they tell me they haven’t done anything wrong yet because I don’t have a delivery date,I’m starting to get worried now the wedding is only a few weeks away.


I would have thought that a delivery date was a rather important part of a contract for a wedding dress. I suggest you start by going back to the shop and asking them to provide the goods by reasonable date, giving time for any alternations that may be needed.

Which? has some advice that might be useful: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/search?utf8=✓&query=wedding+dress


Hi Charles, thanks for getting in touch. We’ve got some advice on how to complain about the late delivery of a wedding dress if it comes to that (which I hope it doesn’t) – you can find this here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter/letter-to-complain-about-the-late-delivery-of-your-wedding-dress

You could also benefit from our advice if you’re unhappy with the wedding dress when received: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-have-a-problem-with-my-wedding-dress-what-can-i-do

I hope this helps.


Sorry @wavechange you beat me to it! Thanks 🙂


No problem, Alex. Sometimes I wonder how many people Which? employs to produce advice and keep it up to date.


Our consumer rights team currently has 4 people in it. Adam and Mel who occasionally write Convos, Erin who works on the tools (letter writing, compensation claims etc) and newest member is Amelia who works on investigations.


Thanks for this info, Alex. There is a wealth of useful information but one thing that has long concerned me is with goods that are out of the manufacturers guarantee period but within the six year period (five in Scotland) when we have statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

The Act refers to ‘durability’ and it would be reasonable for an expensive washing machine, for example, to last longer than the manufacturer’s guarantee period, often only two years. As I see it, this is different from the need to prove that a fault existed at the time of purchase. The fault probably did not exist then, but the Act specifically mentions durability.

Several of this have debated the durability requirement for years and managed to obtain repairs or discounts through persistence, but it would be very helpful to have an interpretation of our legal rights and how best to achieve a solution such as a repair or significant discount on a new product without going to court. Is there any chance that this could be covered on this page? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product


I’m glad you’ve joined me in pressing for action on using the “durability” requirement in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and its predecessor the Sale of Goods Act. It is quite separate from proving a fault was present at the time of purchase and, as far as I can see, essentially says something should last a reasonable time depending upon the price paid.

I have been asking Which? for a long time to make use of this requirement and, importantly, to give consumers information on products that will help them demonstrate what reasonable durability to expect to help any claim. This will involve considerable work on Which?’s part, but soonest started the soonest we can get better help for consumers.


Thank you, both! I have been passing on your comments in regards to durability and I am happy to continue to do so Malcolm. Testing durability can be a tricky one because it would take not only a lot of time but also a lot of money, something which would need to be looked into. We do already test durability on certain products, where durability is a concern prior to testing but of course it would be great if we could roll that out to more products.

Wavechange, I know the consumer rights team are looking to update certain guides and I’ll pass your suggestion on.