Premature turbo failure

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a used 15-plate SUV in April 2017. Two and a half years later, the turbo failed catastrophically. I had taken the car to a franchised dealership earlier that day and was assured the car was safe to drive, despite describing the symptoms I’d been experiencing.

The SUV was only four and half years old at the point the turbo failed, and had only covered a total of 47,382 miles. I have had the car serviced regularly by franchised dealers and the manufacturer’s warranty had expired only 59 days before the fault occurred, so I was expecting the manufacturer to cover the cost of repairs. However, they have refused. The turbo clearly failed prematurely and was not of satisfactory quality.

I paid £2,839 for the repair, and I would like the manufacturer to reimburse me for this and offer goodwill for the distress and inconvenience of this situation caused to my family and I.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer had the car diagnosed by our approved dealership, and they concluded the turbo had failed.
  • The manufacturer’s warranty on the car had expired, meaning we were no longer liable for the cost of repairs.
  • We did, however, contribute 30% of the cost of the repair bill as a goodwill gesture.
  • If the consumer believes the car or the turbo was not of satisfactory quality, they need to raise a complaint with the dealership that supplied him the car as this is not our responsibility.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator explained the manufacturer was only responsible for failures that occurred within the warranty period.
  • As there wasn’t a valid warranty in place, they said the manufacturer was not obliged to cover the cost of the repairs. As a result, the adjudicator was unable to uphold the case in the consumer’s favour.
  • The consumer disagreed with the adjudication outcome, and asked for the case to be referred to an ombudsman for a final decision.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  •  The ombudsman also did not uphold the complaint for similar reasons as the adjudicator.
  • She said the crux of the complaint was about the quality of the turbo. She explained that the consumer could not pursue a quality complaint against the manufacturer as there was no sales contract in place between the two parties. She said the rights offered to the consumer under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 could not be enforced against the manufacturer.
  • She explained the manufacturer’s obligations were limited to the terms and conditions of the warranty and they were only liable for repairs if the fault developed during the warranty period.
  • In this case, she said the extended manufacturer’s warranty had lapsed two months before the breakdown, and she had no remit under which she could ask the manufacturer to cover the repairs.
  • As there was no valid warranty – she explained that any offers of contribution were at the manufacturer’s sole discretion.
  • The ombudsman also explained that a complaint about the quality of the car or the turbo could be pursued against the selling dealership and the consumer could raise a claim up to six years from the date of purchase.
  • She also noted the car had been in for diagnosis on the day of breakdown. So, although there was limited information on this, she explained that the consumer may be able to raise a complaint against the repairing dealership under The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.
  • She could not, however, ask the manufacturer to do anything further.