/ Money, Motoring

Brief case: faulty Land Rover fixed for free

James had problems with his Land Rover from the moment he bought it. So when it developed a serious exhaust problem he wasn’t happy to settle for 50% of the repair costs.

Which? Legal member James Cook came to us for help after enduring a catalogue of serious and repeated problems with a new Land Rover Discovery 4.

Problems with James’ Land Rover

The car suffered issues from the moment he took possession of it in June 2012. These included a water leak in the boot and a rear brake light coming loose from its mounting, causing paintwork damage. These problems were rectified by the dealership under the warranty, which was still in place at this time.

In December 2014, James saw the exhaust pipe hanging below the rear bumper line and the silencer dangling on its rubber mounting, having broken away from the tail pipe.

He couldn’t use the vehicle and called the AA. They couldn’t fix the exhaust at the roadside but, for safety reasons, removed the silencer. The issue was so serious he was advised to contact Land Rover immediately.

James contacted the dealership and Land Rover offered to pay 25% of the price of a new exhaust and fitting. He declined this, and the offer was raised to 50%. But he was still unhappy with this. He looked into the matter and found a ‘technical bulletin’ Land Rover had issued in July 2013, warning of an exhaust pipe issue with the car he had bought, which he’d been told nothing about. He came to Which? Legal for help.

Our advice for James

We suggested that James write to the dealership and Land Rover’s chairman, detailing the issues and the breach of contract committed by selling a defective car. The company quickly agreed to repair it for free, with the modified exhaust fittings highlighted on the technical bulletin.

Goods sold to you in the UK must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. For goods bought before 1 October 2015, this is covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

If what you buy isn’t satisfactory, you can reject it (but you must usually do this within 30 days) or the retailer must repair or replace it. If neither is possible, you should be offered a full or partial refund.

However, there are additional considerations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which came into force on 1 October. This allows a trader to take into account how much you’ve used a product when assessing how much of a refund to give you, even where this is within the first six months after you bought it.


I expect that the thought of having an unusable car might have encouraged most people to pay up even if they have a good case to have the work done free of charge. I wonder if it would be possible to ‘make a payment under protest’ and then take legal action.

It’s good to see some information about how the new Consumer Rights Act can help us in practice.

This seems a clear cut case of correcting a known fault from new, confirmed by the bulletin. It seems somehow retailers need to be told their legal obligations. Perhaps Which could campaign for this to help consumers.

I don’t know whether the Consumer Rights Act simply clarifies what the Sale of Goods Act covered. If you are out of guarantee and a part fails, through a known fault or, more likely, lack of durability (under “quality” in the acts) then the CRA seems to say that only a partial recompense may be made to account for use made. For example if a washing machine should last 6 years but fails after 4 the retailer may now assume they can make a 1/3 offer as you have already had 2/3 usage. As I see it anyway, but maybe Which? Legal have a different view or can elaborate. i don’t know if this was spelled out in the Sale of Goods Act, which will presumably apply to most products still out their for some time. I presume the CRA cannot be retrospective.

To me this all seems to emphasis the importance of addressing durability – what is a reasonable fault free normal working life for particular products. If those can be set down then consumers will be in a much better position when approaching retailers with a problem, and retailers would be much better informed. Fair to both sides. Start somewhere. How about large domestic appliances.

Incidentally, Which? have recently published a list of good and less good camcorders where they show a graph of fault-free lifetimes achieved for different brands. So it is not too difficult to do perhaps.

I too bought Freelander Diesel in 2011 brand new from the dealership in Slough. They damaged the N/S Passenger Door after putting some fuel in & then fobbed me off with “getting a replacement” door…….I insisted on a brand new car & checked the new Docs to ensure they had. I signed up to their Service Agreement & each year from 2012 received a courtesy car for 24 hrs…….they later arranged the MOT. I too have leaks the boot passenger side which they said was probably blocked holes & it would be charged extra.
I recently had the alternator changed & in their report said “brake fluid discoloured” needs replacing. I went elsewhere as I found they should have replaced it in as per the Service Manual 2014 & Feb 2017 during the Service Works. I e-mailed the Customer Service Dept & said I could have been in danger to my passengers & other road users & it made me wonder what else had they not done – all they said after 3 tele calls to them was sorry & they would not reimburse me the £84.00 for the Brake Fluid. I have just written to their CS Director & am awaiting a reponse……………………..not impressed

I am trying to find out how to compare cars by the cost of their parts if you need to replace them?

It would be useful if Which? did list the cost of wear and tear parts when reviewing models. The first edition did this for the Austin A35 and the Standard 10.

The most important example is the difference in cost of replacing a timing belt. In some models this cannot be done without partly removing the engine. On other models it’s a much simpler job and on cars with a timing chain there is no belt to replace.

If you do servicing and repairs yourself it can be much cheaper to go to a motor factor rather than the main dealer for parts.

My garage use Eurocarparts and similar and when I had to have an alternator replaced recently I was given 3 prices for 3 different makes, including the one originally fitted. I chose an own brand with a lifetime warranty on both labour and part. So far, so good. I’ll report back if I ever have a problem.

Often when replacing a timing belt it is worth renewing the water pump if the same belt drives both. Failure of the bearings can cause the timing to jump with potentially disastrous consequences.

It’s even more important to replace the belt tensioner, particularly if it is plastic. Many engines have been wrecked by failure of the plastic timing belt tensioners. Having an alternator or starter reconditioned by a specialist is the cheapest option but that requires removal of the part.

Quite right. Belts often come as a kit with the extras needed. I had an original expensive alternator repaired by a local specialist. It may be a small component that has failed rather than a major rault.

Thinking about Sandra’s point about the cost of parts, it would be difficult to come up with useful information about anything other than parts that are replaced during servicing because the lifetime of other parts can vary so much between models. I’ve been lucky and not needed to replace anything other than tyres and windscreen wipers in nearly 50k miles.

It would be useful to estimate the cost of routine servicing for different models. I gave away my recent Which? Car Guide but I believe that there is an indication of annual costs.