Misaligned headlights and wiper failure

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a used ’63-plate luxury SUV in November 2016 that was just over three years of age. When the car was delivered, the headlights were misaligned. They were therefore repaired by the business through the adjustment of the settings, but the issue re-occurred. The business diagnosed the fault as being a defective sensor, and in order to correct the issue, I was charged over £300. I explained that this issue was not my fault, but I was ignored, and had to pay to get my car back.

In 2018, the rear wiper motors failed. Although they were repaired by the business under warranty, the work was completed to a poor standard, which resulted in me using a third party to get it working again.

In April 2019, I reported a known fault with my sunroof, where water leaks into the downpipe. I was told this was due to water ingress and it would not be covered under warranty. However, I felt this fault was a mechanical failure due to poor design, and therefore I shouldn’t have to pay to fix it. When I initially made the business aware of the problem, they agreed to investigate it, but then proceeded to charge me £147, even though the outcome was exactly what I had described previously.

To resolve my complaint, I would like the cost of the repair of my headlights, rear wiper motor and sunroof to be covered by the business, or to receive a full refund of the price I paid for the vehicle.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We inspected the issue reported with the headlight misalignment. We found the damage was caused by an external influence, not by an inherent fault, so we asked the consumer to pay for the repair.
  • In relation to the wiper motors, the issues occurred after a significant period of ownership which, based on the age and usage of the vehicle, would not be deemed to be unreasonable. They are also not a mechanical component covered under warranty or linked to an inherent fault with the vehicle.
  • In relation to the sunroof, the terms of the warranty are clear in that the extended warranty does not cover water leaks or diagnostic charges.
  • It is therefore our policy that consumers are requested to pay a diagnostic charge, and a warranty claim cannot proceed until the fault is inspected and diagnosed.
  • However, we were able to secure a substantial contribution towards the repair from the manufacturer, thereby reducing the cost from £2,500 to £921. Therefore, we believe that the amount that the customer was asked to pay was fair and completely in line with guidelines and policies set out by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • As such, we believe the costs passed on to the consumer were proportional to the cost of the final repairs.
  • We are sorry that the consumer is unhappy. However, we are unable to offer any other form of compensation to them.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator considered the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales and the relevant law, which states that a business has an obligation to ensure the vehicle is of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described at the point of sale.
  • Based on the consumer’s claim, the headlights, wiper blades and sunroof were all faulty.
  • However, there was no evidence to show that they were present when the customer bought the car.
  • With the wiper blade and water leak, these issues occurred sometime after the purchase of the car, meaning the consumer needed to provide technical proof to support his claim that he should not be liable for the cost of the repairs.
  • When it came to the headlights, the technical opinion of the business was that the problem had been caused by an external influence, and there was no evidence to disprove this;
  • Because of this, the adjudicator found no breach of the Vehicle Sales Code and, as such, there was no obligation established on the business to repair the car or provide a full refund;
  • Therefore, the adjudicator did not uphold this case in the customer’s favour.


  • The consumer and business both accepted the adjudication outcome, and the case was closed.