Head gasket failure

The consumer’s issue:

I bought a car from a dealership in 2014, but in 2015, it needed the head gasket replacing. As it was still under warranty, I took the vehicle back to the dealer who completed the work. Later, I noticed that the car was using more water than I had experienced in earlier vehicles that I had owned. In August 2017, the head gasket needed to be replaced again, and as the warranty had expired, I asked my local garage to do the job. When I collected the car, they told me that there was reason to believe that bolts that should have been undone during the first repair, had not been.

My contention is that if the business had done a proper job in the first place, we would not be having this correspondence now. I feel it is immaterial whether the business saw the car before the second job was done – the fact is, is that it needed doing. 

The reason I did not take the car back to the dealership the second time was that, a) the car was out of warranty and b) I was not treated fairly when I took the car to them initially. I am therefore requesting a refund of the money that I spent on the second repair and a rental car for the period that my vehicle was at the garage.” 

The accredited business’ response:

  • We do not feel that we are responsible for the customer’s costs incurred in them getting their vehicle repaired.
  • The vehicle’s warranty expired in May 2017, so when the head gasket failed in September 2017, the vehicle was already outside of the manufacturer’s warranty period.
  • We therefore believe that if we had failed to complete the original repair without reasonable care or skill, then the customer would not have been able to complete a further 19,000 miles.

The adjudication outcome:

  • In considering the evidence that was available, the adjudicator noted that the second repairer’s statement and retraction required clarification, as there was no evidence to support it, and the alleged “retracted” statement was used to support the consumer’s claim.
  • The adjudicator asked for the third party to provide clarification of the statement and for the consumer to provide any other evidence that they felt may reinforce their argument.


  • No evidence was provided by the customer and the garage verified their statement, and was not what the consumer had alleged.
  • The adjudicator could not rule in the consumer’s favour as there was no evidence to suggest that the dealership’s workmanship caused or contributed to the head gasket failure.