/ 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?

Comments
Guest
Mary Thomas says:
6 May 2018

Want to know if state and county taxes can bo charged to consumers for bought merchandise from Ollies

Guest
em niven says:
8 May 2018

hi just looking for advice on how i should attack the problem of my furniture being broken i brought it recently about two weeks ago, I just realized that it has a massive hole in the bottom

Any help would be appreciated
Many thanks
Em niven

Guest
Nic Drake says:
8 May 2018

Hi, I ordered a shower sliding door delivered in March this year however it exploded last week before it was installed – no apparent reason, wasn’t knocked or anything. Have contacted the retailer who have said the manufacturers won’t replace as they can’t say whether it was a manufacturing fault or not. Retailer won’t send a replacement either and say legally that don’t have to as its past the 30 days. They have offered a 10% discount on a new door however I can still get it cheaper elsewhere now, what are my rights at this point as we appear to be at a bit of a stalemate? Thanks, Nic

Guest

The glass will be toughened (tempered) Nic. Heat treatment puts most of the glass in compression and the surface in tension, which makes it less likely to break but when it does, it ‘explodes’. At least the fragments produced are small pieces rather than dangerous shards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toughened_glass

We have discussed the same problem with washing machine and oven doors on Which? Conversation. Breakage can occur due to manufacturing faults or as a result of misuse, which you can read about in other Conversations.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, 2015 if there is a fault within six months of delivery it is presumed to have been present at the time of manufacture unless there is evidence of misuse or abuse. Your rights are against the retailer and not the manufacturer and useful advice is available on the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

The fact that the retailer has made a false claim about being responsible for only 30 days will help your case, especially if you have this in writing.

Citizens Advice will offer you advice and may refer you to Trading Standards. Please let us know how you get on, Nic.

Guest

Nic, the difficulty you may have is proving that the door was not impacted in any way whilst in your care. It is rare for toughened glass to spontaneously explode without some “trigger”, but not unknown. If it was well packaged and the remnants are still inside the packaging, and no sign of impact damage on the packaging then you could have a better case. I suspect you will be relying on goodwill from the retailer so be diplomatic in your approach would be my advice.

Guest

The extent of the company’s goodwill is a 10% reduction on the price. Nic does not need to prove anything to make a claim within six months of delivery, but the company has the right to inspect the goods for evidence of abuse.

Guest
Nic Drake says:
9 May 2018

Thank you all, you’re in line with what I thought my position was. I’ve already used the template letter quoting the consumer rights act which is when they told me they are not legally obligated to replace it. I’ve gone back again quoting the ‘6 months or less’ section and asked for a refund so we will see. Unfortunately the glass was out of the packaging as the frame had already been installed at this point (with the glass well out of the way!). Would be quite happy with the 10% discount if we’d actually damaged it but appreciate that it’s difficult to prove either way.

Guest

Thanks for coming back, Nic. If the company does not offer a replacement I suggest speaking to Citizens Advice and they should refer the case to your local Trading Standards. Just telling a company that I was doing this was enough to do the trick for me, though TS said they would take no action unless they had other reports of problems with the company.

Guest

In practice even a slight knock on the edge of the unprotected glass could cause it to shatter. I don’t see a pre-existing fault being a clear cut argument but good luck with your negotiations.