/ Motoring, Shopping

Brief cases: expert found that car was dangerous

Broken-down car

Which? Legal member Naima Begum bought a dangerous car that turned out to have faults so serious an expert said that it was unsafe to drive.

Naima bought the used Audi for £4,695 from CJS Car Sales in Swinton, Greater Manchester, in June 2015. After just a few days, she heard a loud noise from the engine and contacted the dealer, who advised her to give it a week to settle down.

But a week later, the noise was still there, so Naima had it inspected by an Audi main dealer, which found many faults. She went back to CJS Car Sales, but it refused to do anything further.

Our advice for the owner of a dangerous car

Naima contacted Which? Legal for help. As she got the car in June 2015, her rights come under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (goods bought on or after 1 October 2015 come under the Consumer Rights Act 2015). Under the law, the car Naima bought should have been of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. This should be assessed taking into account its age, condition and mileage.

At this stage, she had the car checked by an independent expert at Halfords, who concluded that it was dangerous. So we advised Naima to argue a breach of contract.

She went to back to CJS Car Sales, but it inspected the car, said there was nothing wrong with it and refused to do anything further. It didn’t even return the vehicle – instead it charged her storage costs.

We advised Naima to issue proceedings for the cost of the car and her financial losses, including fuel costs and the insurance premium. The judge found fully in her favour and she received £5,487 for her claim and court fees of £525.

The law

In England and Wales, the limit for a small claim like this is £10,000. You have to pay a court issue fee – this amount will depend upon your claim’s value. If your claim is defended and a settlement cannot be reached between the parties, it will proceed to a final hearing, for which a fee is payable. The case is heard in front of a District Judge, where both parties will have a chance to challenge the other’s evidence.

Have you had a similar problem with a car you bought? What happened?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It would be interesting to know what the fault was so that the reader can understand why the car was dangerous.

If the car was dangerous and CJS Car Sales have refused to accept this, maybe they should not be trading.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Those on this site who blithely suggest people should take an issue to the County Court and make a court claim should take note of the fees involved. It was worth it in this case, however, because of the strong evidence that the car was seriously defective.

The court fees start at £35 for a £300 claim and rise to £455 for a £10,000 claim. Claims can be made above this limit but the court fee is 5% of the claim’s value up to £200,000 above which it is £10,000 for any amount. There are reductions for making an application on line for up to £100,000 above which you cannot make a claim on line. You may have to pay more fees later on – for example, if there’s a court hearing or you need to get a judgment enforced. You may be able to claim the fees back if you win the case.

A mediation service could be quicker and cheaper than going to court. Mediation is when an impartial person helps both sides work out an agreement but that process has costs too.

As Wavechange says, more facts would be useful. We don’t know how old the car was and whether the dealer was relying on an MOT certificate for their opinion on the car’s condition. However, it could have been eleven months since it was tested and a serious fault could have developed in the meantime. For a car to be dangerous it must be unroadworthy; I cannot believe there is not an offence of selling an unroadworthy car without declaring its condition although in this case the dealer appeared to be ignorant of its condition and satisfied that there was nothing wrong with it. To me it seems more like a case of misrepresenting its condition which must be a trading offence enforceable by the local trading standards/consumer protection service.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I see that CJS Car Sales currently have 24 used cars for sale on their website including an Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI SE 5-dr with a new clutch & flywheel for £4,295. It is five years old, has had one owner and done over 200,000 miles.

The company says : “We are confident you will not be disappointed with our extensive range of quality used cars. At CJS Car and Van Sales we can also offer you an extensive range of services and extras meaning that you can buy your used car with confidence and peace of mind.” A referral to the Adertising Standards Authority might also be in order.

Member
patrick taylor says:
14 October 2016

Great sleuthing JW and top advice.

Member

If you read their supposed reviews on AutoTrader, coincidentally the phraseology and grammatical errors are very similar between reviews.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Do you think Autotrader would be interested to know that, Mike? They ought to be – have you considered informing them and supplying a few examples?

Member
Anonymous says:
29 April 2017

I have just bought a nice car from them, it was advertised as having the timing belt done, but after phoning the company that has always serviced it as history states they have confirmed it has never been done. Also noticed that the car I part exchanged is now on their website claiming full service history and recently serviced. Err it doesn’t have fsh and it wasn’t serviced recently.

The staff are very friendly and I did get a really good deal on the car I bought.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Anonymous – if you are keeping the car -DONT HESITATE – book it into a dealership that can fit a 100 % genuine timing belt . Dont get it done by a garage buying their spares from third party sources , I cant emphasis enough -do you want the valves smashing their way through you pistons, a full engine replacement plus towing charges for a £50 belt ? ( plus installation costs ) . I have seen the results of- well it looks okay so I will just leave it and I can assure you its not a pretty sight , neither is your wife shouting at you .

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I very much agree with Duncan’s dire warning, but the company should be reported to Trading Standards. The old car might have been serviced and the timing belt replaced before sale but the company cannot claim a full service history.