Leaking shock absorber

The consumer’s issue:

“I took my SUV to a dealership for an MOT. However, the car failed, as there was a leaking shock absorber, and I was told that I needed to have it replaced.
I therefore sourced the replacement part myself, and visited two independent garages to have the work done, but they could not find a leak, and said that the shock absorber did not need to be replaced.

I therefore went back to the dealership and raised a complaint because the part did not need changing. The service manager told me they would look into this for me, and I gave them a chance to inspect the car. A few days later, I went to collect it, and I was advised that the car had passed its MOT, and that the shock absorbers were changed as a gesture of goodwill.

I then had the car inspected again at an independent garage, and they informed me that no parts had been changed. I therefore feel that I have been misled and am looking for a reimbursement of the equivalent cost of the shock absorbers (£150) as a resolution to my complaint.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer’s car failed its MOT on the nearside rear shock absorber because it was leaking. We had taken an image of this, which is shown on the vehicle health check we completed.
  • Following the test, the consumer purchased replacement parts, and took the vehicle to two independent garages to be looked at, and in their view, the car should not have failed the test. However, there was no technical documentation to support this.
  • As a gesture of goodwill, we offered to fit the consumer’s shock absorbers free of charge, and carry out the MOT retest which she agreed to.
  • However, the parts that the consumer had supplied were not suitable, so we could not fit them. Therefore, the original shock absorbers were cleaned, with no evidence of a leak at this point, so the tester was able to supply an MOT pass.
  • We are not aware of any correspondence where it stated that we had replaced the shock absorbers, but if this were the case, we accept that there could possibly have been a miscommunication.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator said that the burden of proof was on the consumer to show that the dealership had issued a communication to them which was likely to mislead or be misunderstood.
  • The adjudicator considered the evidence and representations on both sides. They noted that there was indeed evidence of an email communication from the manufacturer of the consumer’s vehicle, which indicated that the dealership had told the manufacturer that they had previously replaced the shock absorbers for the consumer.
  • The adjudicator pointed out that this was at odds with what the business had said within their response, albeit the dealership did somewhat accept the possibility that there could have been a miscommunication.
  • The adjudicator then explained that, as these two statements were at odds with one another, it was likely to mislead a reasonable person and thus, the consumer.
  • For this reason, the adjudicator upheld the complaint in favour of the consumer and found that there had been a breach of The Motor Ombudsman’s Service and Repair Code.
  • As a remedy, the adjudicator recommended that the dealership cover the cost of the replacement shock absorber.


  • The business accepted the proposed outcome, but the consumer did not respond within the required timeframe, meaning the case was closed with no further action.