If you buy a new car that comes with a fault, make sure you know your rights from the start. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending more time than you want to get it fixed…
When Arthur and Sylvi spent more than £34,000 on a brand-new car, they never thought it would need repairs carried out as soon as they bought it.
But that is what the couple found when they went to pick up the new Kia Sorento in October 2013. At the dealership, they noticed the top of one of the rear seats hadn’t been fitted with enough padding and the seatbelt support bracket hadn’t been installed properly. They were assured that if they took the car that day, the problems would be fixed as soon as possible.
But when Arthur returned to collect it after the repairs were done, he found the seat in worse condition than before, with additional damage to the back of the driver’s seat. This was again reported to the dealership, which then dealt with other minor issues, but failed to solve the problem with the seat.
At this point the situation had been going on for nearly a year and the couple were soon due to leave for a driving holiday to France, so Arthur contacted Which? Legal for our advice on how to get the situation resolved.
Which? Legal advice
Our lawyers helped the couple with the wording of a letter to send to the dealership, to state their legal rights and have the issue with the car seat put right once and for all.
The couple returned from their holiday to find messages from the dealership offering to carry out the required work by replacing the defective seat.
This was done to the couple’s satisfaction in early October. The dealership also agreed to pay £200 compensation for the inconvenience that had been caused because of the ongoing problems and the couple accepted this offer.
What the law says on goods with defects
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that goods, including cars, must be of satisfactory quality. This means that they must be free from defects (even minor ones).
If the goods are defective, the seller could be in breach of contract and, if it is, the buyer has the right in certain circumstances to reject the goods, or to have them repaired or replaced by the seller.
If the goods are to be repaired or replaced, the seller will have the choice of which of these options to choose. The decision may come down to what is the most practical and cost-effective option.
Have you ever had a similar situation with a new car or any other product? Did the retailer accept responsibility for the fix?