The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a used 12-plate hatchback in October 2016. On the 25th March 2019, the car started to cut out on low revs when I was coming back from work, and the dealership quoted £214 to identify the issue, which they suspected was a problem with the timing chain.
I therefore agreed to this, and took the car to the dealership where they identified an issue with the timing chain, as it had jumped 24 teeth and damaged the engine. The repair could not be completed under warranty, as the 2017 service had been missed. However, the car has been well maintained and, my brother, a qualified mechanic changed the oil regularly.
The dealership asked for the manufacturer to give me a call, but all head office asked me was whether I was interested in buying a replacement vehicle. I explained that it was unlikely seeing that my current car needed a new engine at 45,000 miles. They also explained that the repair couldn’t be completed under warranty. During the weeks that followed, I was passed from pillar to post between the dealer and manufacturer, but didn’t get anywhere.
The manufacturer recommends checking the timing chain at 60,000, and my car had only done 45,000 miles. Also, the timing chain would not have been checked at the missed service, and I feel that this is a get-out clause from the manufacturer to not resolve the issue.
I have been quoted over £2,000 to put the issue right, but I cannot afford this, and a well looked-after car should not need a new engine at 45,000 miles. I am therefore looking for the repair to be carried out under the manufacturer’s warranty at no cost to myself.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We spoke to the Service Manager at the dealership, and they informed us that the car was recovered to them as a non-start.
- During the inspection, the rocker cover was removed and it was identified that the timing chain had jumped 24 teeth. Therefore the customer was advised the car required a new engine based on the damage.
- The service intervals for this vehicle are every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever came first. The fifth service was due on 27th September 2017 or at 28,681 miles, whichever came first. Therefore, the service was overdue by 12 months and 11,631 miles.
- From the evidence presented to the dealership, the repair was declined under the terms of our warranty. This is because the car was not maintained in line with our specifications, and no warrantable defect was identified.
- Therefore, based on the evidence submitted to date, we cannot offer goodwill and provide engine repairs under the terms of our warranty.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator explained that they had the evidential burden of showing that the cause of the timing belt fault was due to a manufacturing defect, and that the repair should have been covered by the warranty.
- When considering a complaint like this, the adjudicator also had to take into account the terms and conditions of the manufacturer’s warranty. They believed that it was made clear to the consumer that a service should have been carried out every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever came first.
- Furthermore, they also had to take into account that the timing belt issue could possibly be linked to the lack of servicing the vehicle, and had maybe contributed to the issue.
- Unfortunately, the evidence submitted did not demonstrate that it was more likely than not that the issue with the timing belt was the result of poor workmanship or materials used during the manufacturing process, and the manufacturer was within their rights to reject the consumer’s claim.
- As a result, the adjudicator could not uphold the customer’s complaint or make any recommendations to the vehicle manufacturer.
- The consumer did not respond or challenge the adjudication outcome, and the case was closed.