Premature tyre replacement

The consumer’s issue:

“I took my car to the dealership for an annual service and MOT. They told me all four tyres needed to be replaced because they were cracking on the outer edge and the cords had been exposed. I’m an elderly individual, I was by myself and I know very little about cars. The dealership didn’t show me the damaged tyres and I didn’t ask to see them either, so I took their advice at face value. However, after the work had been completed and I’d driven home, I started to think about what the business had said. I checked the service sheet and noticed the tread remaining on the inner, middle and outer parts of each tyre was the same and it wasn’t below the legal limit. I had only driven the car around 1,000 miles since my last MOT and it was quite unusual for all four tyres to have suffered the same level of wear, and needing replacement all at once. I complained to the dealership and asked to see the tyres, but they no longer had them. I don’t believe the business were either transparent, or that all the tyres needed replacing.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The tyres were cracking around the sidewalls, and in some of the cracks, the cords were showing. This would result in an MOT failure as would be unsafe for the car to be driven in this condition.
  • We sought the consumer’s consent before changing the tyres.
  • The original tyres were not available for inspection, due to the time that passed between us changing the tyres and the consumer raising the complaint.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator upheld the consumer’s complaint. This is because they noted that one of the tyres was fairly new and of a different type to the rest. Therefore, they questioned how it was possible for all the tyres to have suffered from the same fault and to the same degree as the others.
  • As the tyres were no longer available, they didn’t think it was fair to ask the consumer to prove the tyres were not in need of replacement. Instead, they said the dealership should prove that they needed to be changed.
  • The dealership wasn’t able to provide any evidence to support this, and the adjudicator wasn’t satisfied that all four tyres needed to be replaced.
  • The adjudicator recommended that the business refunded a percentage of what had been paid, equivalent to the useable tread that was on all four tyres.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The dealership didn’t supply any further evidence for the ombudsman to consider in addition to that which had already been provided. Therefore, the ombudsman agreed with the adjudicator’s decision and upheld the consumer’s complaint.
  • The ombudsman recommended that the dealership carries out vehicle health check videos to demonstrate fault(s) and/or damage to a car going forward.
  • The ombudsman also advised that fault(s) and/or damage is shown to the consumer prior to any work being carried out.