ABS warning light illumination

The consumer’s issue:

“I contacted the business to express my dissatisfaction with a used vehicle bought from them. I had been shopping around, but the salesman was very helpful and enthusiastically found me a car. He said that it matched my specification request, and prompted me to pay a deposit to hold the vehicle.

Shortly after buying it, I discovered that there were five recalls on the vehicle that had existed prior to my purchase, and that had not been repaired. Separately to that, I also had to pay £170 to repair a brake switch. The dealer expressed their apologies and offered a free service, but this isn’t good enough.

In addition, I have had to replace my tyres at my own expense and have waited eight months for this ordeal to be over. I am therefore looking for compensation of between £170 and £8000 based on the above.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We can confirm the following sequence of events in relation to the consumer.
  • On 18th February, a Vehicle Health Check (VHC) was completed on the customer’s car in preparation for delivery, but no issues were highlighted.
  • On 20th February, the consumer collected the car.
  • On 12th August the following year (i.e. around 18 months later), the consumer submitted an e-mail via our website expressing dissatisfaction with the vehicle as the consumer had visited one of our sister sites to diagnose the cause of the ABS/hill start warning light illuminating intermittently.
  • Whilst the vehicle was at this site for the other repair, it was discovered that there were five outstanding recalls, which were completed by the dealership.
  • As the seller, we recognised the fact that the recalls should have been checked before selling the vehicle, and with this in mind, we apologised to the consumer and offered a free service, which she did not want to accept.
  • As a result, we suggested an alternative of refunding either the cost of the ABS/hill start brake switch (£168.35), or that for the tyres that they had replaced. Regardless of the consumer’s decision, we said that our offer of a free service would still stand.
  • The recall repairs that were completed had no connection with the ABS/hill start warning light, or with the tyres which the consumer had to replace.
  • Since the consumer purchased the vehicle over 18 months ago, we have not had any contact, and can only presume that the consumer was happy with the car.
  • We do not feel that the above would warrant the consumer rejecting the vehicle. Nevertheless, in order to reach a swift resolution, we are willing to retract the Free Service Offer and replace it with a refund of £168.35, which is what the consumer paid for the ABS/hill start brake switch when she visited our sister site.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator noted that tyres needing replacement after 18 months was not unreasonable for a used vehicle, and that it was unfortunate the recalls had been neglected prior to sale.
  • The adjudicator could not award compensation for the incomplete recall work, as it is not in line with the Ombudsman terms of use.
  • Instead, the business’ obligation would be to do the recall repairs, which the seller’s sister site duly completed.
  • Also, it was not demonstrated that the brake switch needed replacing due to an issue that was present at point of sale.
  • Given this, the second offer the business had made (i.e. the £168.35 refund) exceeded what could be considered a legal entitlement, and the adjudicator supported it in resolution of the complaint.
  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator also made a recommendation to the business to alter its pre-delivery check process to include a recall check on the VIN of a car, in order to ensure any outstanding matters are dealt with prior to the vehicle being released.


  • The parties agreed with The Motor Ombudsman’s adjudication outcome, and the £168.35 was reimbursed to the customer by cheque.
  • In addition, following the request made by The Motor Ombudsman, the business provided an updated PDI document to demonstrate the changes to their pre-delivery check process.