Alloy wheel lacquer failure

The consumer’s issue:

“The lacquer on my alloy wheels has failed, resulting in blistering and oxidisation. I believe this to be a quality control issue, and the manufacturer will not honour my warranty. They have given no other explanation other than it is out of scope, and have therefore offered a goodwill gesture of replacement wheels at cost plus 5%. I believe this to be totally unacceptable, as repair or replacement would be more in line with the warranty policy.

The manufacturer has inspected the wheels and the lacquer depth was measured. It was recorded as being considerably lower than the expected level, which should be an average of 130 across the whole wheel.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • When the consumer first contacted us, he had been trying to make a warranty claim for his alloy wheels as the lacquer was bubbling.
  • However, after having the wheels assessed by the bodyshop, the claim was rejected, as the data indicated that the alloy wheels had been previously refurbished, and that the consumer is also not the first owner of the vehicle.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator considered that the depth readings from the independent retailer would suggest that the lacquer is either not applied to standard, or the alloys had been refurbished at some point in their life.
  • It was noted that the manufacturer, under their warranty, is only accountable for the condition the vehicle leaves their assembly line in, i.e. for build defects.
  • The consumer has rights with their seller for the condition prior to sale if this was not related to manufacturing issues. However, the case the adjudicator had to consider under the New Car Code as to whether the claim should be covered under this warranty or not.
  • The adjudicator therefore looked at, whether on balance, there was sufficient evidence to discount the possibility of refurbishing, over the poor initial application of the lacquer.
  • The adjudicator noted that the Code of Practice and relevant legislation places the burden on the consumer in terms of proving this, and without any professional opinion suggesting the lacquer appears original, the adjudicator couldn’t support that assertion on the balance of probability.
  • The adjudicator could therefore not award any repair under the terms of the warranty, and the consumer’s claim was not upheld by The Motor Ombudsman.
  • The consumer was advised that, if it were found to be refurbishing that caused the deterioration, to consider further action against their retailer for the condition of the vehicle and lacquer at sale.
  • However, they were equally informed that they may need similar evidence to suggest the cause was indeed due to the poor reapplication of lacquer prior to sale.


  • Both parties accepted the adjudication outcome in relation to the New Car Code. As the retailer was not accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Sales Code of Practice, the consumer’s secondary case would need to be considered by another body.