The consumer’s issue:
“I took my vehicle to the dealer for its first service prior to the expiry of the warranty period. I told them about a clunking coming from the gearbox, and that there was an issue with the passenger lock.
The business told me that the gearbox issue would be fixed with a software update, but the lock would require replacement at my own cost, and would not be covered under warranty. However, the gearbox problem was not resolved, so I took it back and was told again that another update should solve it. Later that morning, I was informed that I required a new gearbox, and the warranty would not cover it as it had now expired. I therefore did this, but the day after the replacement, my car broke down again due to the earth cable being loose and not being refitted correctly.
I think the business should have found this issue when I pointed it out to them within the warranty period, instead of being fobbed off with a software fix under the warranty. I am therefore looking to be reimbursed for the money I had to pay to fix the vehicle, in addition to compensation for the breakdown and the time that was lost due to these issues”.
The accredited business’ response:
- My understanding is that the consumer feels they should not have to pay at all for the replacement gearbox. However, to date, the bulk of the costs associated with this have been covered by the manufacturer and ourselves.
- The manufacturer determines what they will and will not pay for, and they have contributed significantly as goodwill. The consumer is also not recognising the betterment they are getting from having a new gearbox on a car with 45,000 miles on the clock.
- The “clunk” was identified between the drive and reverse gears, but otherwise it was functioning within the prescribed tolerances.
- The gearbox was only replaced on this occasion, as no other repair could address the concerns raised by the consumer.
The adjudication outcome:
- It was the consumer’s argument that the business failed to notice within the warranty period that replacement of the gearbox was the only means to address the issues raised.
- The business stated however, that the reason they came to the position that a replacement was required, was because they had previously exhausted all other technical repairs the manufacturer previously allowed when the warranty was still active.
- The adjudicator therefore had to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to suggest that a reasonably skilled technician in the same position would have come to the decision that replacement was needed in the first instance, as opposed to acting on the clear instructions of the manufacturer to carry out the prescribed fixes.
- In regards to the breakdown caused after the replacement of the earth cable, as there was recently a new part fitted in this area, the adjudicator considered it was either likely that it had been disturbed and not refitted, or ought to have been noticed as being loose by a reasonably skilled technician working in that area.
- The adjudicator therefore upheld the claim for the costs associated with the breakdown, except for the consumer’s time and inconvenience, which the Ombudsman’s terms prohibit.
- The adjudicator deemed that there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that a reasonably skilled technician would skip the necessary steps that the manufacturer had put in place, and replace a part if it were not deemed necessary.
- It was also not sufficiently established that the issue fell within the terms of the warranty for replacement.
- The parties agreed with the outcome given, and the consumer was reimbursed for the costs they incurred because of the breakdown from the loose cable.