The consumer’s issue:
“I took my car for a warranty repair to the coil pack on 17 September 2015. On 31 December 2016, the issue happened again, but I was told that the previous repair was a gesture of goodwill and that the dealership was not willing to help on this occasion. I therefore paid £80 to have my spark plugs changed at an independent garage. On 9 February 2017, the problem re-occurred and a different independent garage serviced the car, investigated the problem, and found that because the coil pack and spark plugs were not changed at the same time in September 2015, a further repair was required costing £317.45. I want to claim back £397.45.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The original repair was under the manufacturer’s warranty.
- During the coil pack replacement, a technician noticed corrosion to the number one spark plug, but they cleaned it and it tested fine, so it wasn’t replaced.
- The spark plugs were due for replacement anyway at the vehicle’s fourth service in December 2016. In our opinion, the most recent coil pack failure would not have been linked to our repair.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator didn’t uphold the complaint in favour of the customer.
- The consumer had not provided any evidence from either of the independent garages, who allegedly told her the plugs should have been replaced during the original coil pack repair, and there was no technical evidence to show poor workmanship. Therefore, the adjudicator felt that there was insufficient information.
- The consumer deemed the adjudication outcome to be unfair, and therefore requested a final decision from the ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman believed that there was no requirement to replace the spark plugs at the time of the first coil pack repair.
- Warranty repairs will only cover what is strictly necessary, so it seems unlikely the warranty would have covered spark plugs, which, from looking at the technical evidence, were functioning at that point in time.
- Additionally, the manufacturer did not authorise spark plug replacement at that time, which would indicate that they didn’t feel it was a necessary part of the repair.
- The spark plugs that were then replaced in December 2016 would have been part of the service, so this cost would always have fallen to the consumer as part of ongoing maintenance.
- The only question mark was over the failure of the coil pack, but considering this happened around a year and a half after the initial repair, and that two garages had worked on the vehicle in the interim, it was difficult to link the failure back to the dealership.
- No award was made to the customer, but the dealership was advised that although a repair may be done under warranty, the Code of Practice for Service and Repair applies to all repairs. This means that if evidence had been supplied to show the dealership was at fault, The Motor Ombudsman would still have asked them to put things right.