Broken Diesel Particulate Filter

The consumer’s issue:

“I bought a diesel car in January 2015. I don’t think I should have been sold a diesel car because the diesel particulate filter (“DPF”) broke in September 2017 and I was told that it was due to my driving style. Only one warning light appeared so I couldn’t clear the DPF myself. I would like a refund of the £349.99 it cost to repair the car.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer took delivery of the car in January 2015, and advised at the time of sale that he travelled long distances to get to work each day.
  • When the DPF failed in September 2017, we raised a case with the manufacturer which confirmed that the average speed of the car was only 25 mph.
  • The consumer explained that he had since changed jobs so his trips were much shorter.
  • We think we gave the appropriate advice at the point of sale and that we can’t be held liable for a DPF replacement nearly three years after this time.
  • The consumer has now exchanged the vehicle for a petrol model.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator didn’t uphold the customer’s complaint.
  • He felt that the amount of time between the car’s sale and the DPF’s failure showed that the right advice was given, and that it was likely something had changed between the two events.
  • He advised that the accredited business and consumer could consider splitting the costs between them equally, but that this was only a recommendation and not a binding award.
  • The accredited business did not agree with this suggestion and offered a voucher instead, but the consumer was unhappy with this and the case went to the ombudsman.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman agreed with the adjudicator that the case could not be upheld in the customer’s favour.
  • Had a diesel vehicle been unsuitable for the consumer from the point of sale, it is likely that the DPF would have failed a lot quicker, so the fact it took two years and nine months for it to fail made it more likely that the consumer’s circumstances had changed.
  • As such, it was more likely that the accredited business had given the right information at the point of sale.
  • With the warning lights, the information from the manufacturer confirmed they had operated correctly.
  • There was therefore no evidence to support making an award in the consumer’s favour and the goodwill offered by the accredited business was reasonable in the circumstances.


  • The accredited business had not breached the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales, and therefore, no award was made to the customer.