Ex-demo engine failure

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a ‘14-plate MPV in September 2015. Prior to buying the car, I was advised that the car was used only as a show vehicle for test drives, and that I was the actual first owner.

In August 2021, the vehicle broke down with a suspected engine failure. The car was therefore taken back to the dealership where I purchased it, for them to investigate the fault, and I found out that the car needed a new engine. As the MPV had been MOT’d and serviced during the past six years, and with no previous owners, I do not feel that there should have been such a catastrophic failure.

I was advised that, as the car was out of warranty, there would be no contribution towards the repairs from the manufacturer. Whilst I understand this to be the case, I find this to be unacceptable as the vehicle had been maintained correctly, and would therefore not have expected such an issue to have occurred.

To resolve my complaint, I am looking for the manufacturer to pay some or all of the cost of replacing the engine, and to receive a contribution towards the cost of hiring a vehicle whilst mine was off the road. I am also seeking an apology for the way in which the business has handled my complaint.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The last time we saw this vehicle was in June 2019 when it came into our workshop for its five-year service. At this point, the mileage was 56,956.
  • At the time of the complaint, i.e. in August 2021, the vehicle had covered 82,000 miles.
  • However, as a group, we have no open booking, cancelled booking or record of contact between the customer and the service manager at our dealership regarding the reported fault.
  • A case was raised with the manufacturer, and they informed the consumer that they were unable to assist with their claim due to the age and mileage of the vehicle, as it was outside of the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • As a business, we can therefore not be held liable for the reported engine fault, or for the compensation requested by the consumer.

The adjudication outcome:

  •   Under the Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales, the business had an obligation to ensure that the MPV was of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described at the point of sale.
  • The evidence presented however, did not demonstrate that at the point of sale, the car suffered from an inherent fault.
  • The vehicle was purchased in September 2015, and the fault with the engine did not occur until August 2021, nearly six years after purchase.
  • Under the Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales, if a fault is identified outside of the first six months of purchase, the consumer has the evidential burden of demonstrating that the problem was present at the point of sale.
  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator also explained that the usual expectation of quality for consumer products to last before needing remedial replacement is six years. At the time of the failure, the vehicle was nearly six years old and had covered approximately 82,000 miles.
  • The adjudicator was not provided with any evidence, such as a technical report, to show that the fault with the engine was either a manufacturing defect or that it was more likely than not present at the point of sale.
  • After reviewing the facts of the case, the evidence did not demonstrate a breach of the Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales, and therefore the complaint was not upheld by the adjudicator in the consumer’s favour.


  • Both parties accepted the adjudicator’s decision and the case was closed.