Burnt out clutch

The consumer’s issue:

I noticed a burning smell coming from the car a week after I purchased it and believed this was due to the clutch burning. I contacted the dealership and they advised me to give it time to bed in. However, the smell continued, and later in the year, I took the car in again to the dealership who told me that they could not detect a smell.

The gearbox was then subsequently removed and a burnt out clutch was found. I was told that this was due to my driving style and I was charged £900 for the repair. I have been driving for 40 years and have never had a burnt out clutch. I therefore do not believe that I am at fault and would like the full cost of the repair to be covered under the warranty.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer contacted our Customer Relationship Centre, concerned with a smell coming from his clutch, which his dealership had been unable to find a fault with.
  • The consumer visited an alternative dealership, who diagnosed that the clutch and slave cylinder required replacement and were “burnt out” due to wear and tear.
  • The clutch is an item subject to wear and continual use, and a repair is not guaranteed under the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. No evidence of a manufacturing or material defect was found, and the consumer was therefore liable for the associated costs.
  • The consumer then contacted our head office for further clarification, and the dealership confirmed their diagnosis of the clutch failure in writing to them.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator did not uphold the customer’s complaint.
  • The consumer was informed that this item is one that can fail due to wear and tear and there was no evidence of a failure due to a manufacturing defect.
  • The vehicle owner was asked to obtain an independent technical report which shows that the clutch had failed because of a manufacturing defect, because without such evidence, a recommendation cannot be made for a repair under warranty.


  • The Motor Ombudsman did have enough evidence at this stage to conclude the failure was due to a manufacturing defect.