Failing mechatronics unit

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a used 2008 plate vehicle with 70,000 miles on the clock for £3,000. Five days later, various issues arose including the car struggling to shift through the gears. I took the car back to the accredited business and they said it hadn’t been repaired yet, but was safe to drive. However, I was concerned about this, so I took it in for a diagnostic and they confirmed there were faults with the car. I tried to return the vehicle for a full refund, but the business refused.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We believe that the garage which carried out the diagnostic exaggerated the issue.
  • Our terms and conditions state that we will only accept a court compliant report in the event of a dispute, which has not been provided.
  • The car passed its MOT a few days before the purchase and there were no problems at that point.
  • We will not accept liability without a full inspection and report confirming the vehicle was not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described at the point of sale.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator didn’t uphold the complaint, because the MOT showed no faults with the vehicle at the point of sale.
  • The report from the garage which carried out the diagnostic didn’t say that the faults would be present at the point of sale.
  • Additionally, the report was undated and unsigned which meant that the adjudicator felt they couldn’t place much weight on it.
  • The consumer was unhappy with this outcome, and provided additional information for review by the ombudsman.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman upheld the consumer’s complaint because they had provided evidence to show that the vehicle’s gearbox had serious faults caused by a failing mechatronics unit, which had led to premature wear of the clutches.
  • Whilst it isn’t unexpected for a 10-year-old vehicle with 70,000 miles on the clock to experience wear and tear, the report was clear that this wear was “premature”, and therefore the gearbox should have lasted longer.
  • There was also a fault with the ABS system, which was supposed to be repaired as part of the sales agreement. This meant that the car was unsafe to drive and not fit for purpose.
  • Finally, the ombudsman did not think it was reasonable to always ask for a court compliant report. Whilst they are reliable, and a lot of weight can be attached to them, other forms of evidence are also acceptable and it will not always be proportionate to ask a consumer to pay for such a document.
  • With all things taken into consideration, and as the consumer hadn’t used the vehicle since the request for rejection was made, it was reasonable to award a full refund to the customer.