The consumer’s issue:
“Four months after I bought my car, the vehicle went into limp mode. I was told that the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve had failed and that it was uncommon for it to happen for the age of my car. When inspecting the vehicle, the dealership found the sump plug had been overtightened and that the pan was full of oil. It cost me £900 to fix and I think the business should reimburse me for the cost of this repair.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The failure of the EGR valve on the vehicle is not out of the ordinary, as this issue can arise on most modern diesel engines.
- The failures are usually caused by a build-up of deposits in the EGR valve over a period of time that causes them to stick. This build-up is part of the ordinary operation of the vehicle and should be regarded as a serviceable item requiring repair or replacement.
- The manufacturer of the part and the vehicle is unable to put a specific lifetime on any vehicle component. All mechanical parts have a potential to fail, stick or block and this is largely unpredictable due to the wide variation of external influences and usage to which a vehicle is subjected. In addition, they are affected by driving style and the use of the car.
- The EGR valve on any diesel car may require repair or replacement during the course of its life. This is not an indicator that the vehicle is not of satisfactory quality nor is it indicative of any mechanical failure.
- It is impossible to ascertain what the failure of the sump plug was, and what may have been its cause.
- We did carry out the service, and we replaced the oil and filter and refitted the sump plug together with a replacement sump plug washer, as evidenced by the job cards.
- The oil could not have been leaking prior to the service being carried out, because this would have been noted on the job cards, and the oil would have also been cleaned off and the sump plug/sump pan replaced in order to be able to complete the service.
- If the sump plug had been damaged at the time of sale, leading to it being only ‘finger tight’, the customer would have experienced substantial oil loss from the vehicle, leading to identifiable oil wherever the car was parked, or engine failure as a result of lack of oil.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator noted that the consumer called the business to advise them of the issues, but had already instructed the repair. This prevented the business from being able to mitigate any loss or inspect the vehicle to determine if they were at fault.
- The adjudicator also noted EGR failures are not always expected at a certain mileage. Instead, they usually require cleaning at around 50,000 miles, which this vehicle was well below. It was noted that the consumer could not have reasonably prevented the failure, it was likely to be developing at point of sale, and was not commensurate to the vehicle’s age or mileage.
- The adjudicator also noted that the business had not understood that the consumer was alleging that when the new sump plug had been fitted; either it was over-tightened which allowed it to work its way loose, or had been neglected as the threading was damaged when fitted.
- In either event, the consumer’s issue was likely to be present at point of sale which constitutes a breach of the Service and Repair Code, thereby making the business liable for its repair.
- The adjudicator asked the business to provide a proforma invoice for their costs to undertake that same work that the consumer had had done, as well as an estimate for the recovery of the vehicle to calculate the refund due to the customer.
- The business is currently working to provide the necessary documents to calculate the refund to the customer.