The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a used 61-plate saloon in 2017. A year later, I was experiencing issues with the vehicle, but no problems could be found by the dealership at the time. In March 2020, I went back to the business due to an acute and intermittent loss of power whilst driving the car. The engine malfunction light also illuminated on the dashboard.
The diagnostic investigation revealed that the issue was caused by either a damaged turbo or a faulty vacuum solenoid valve. I was advised the turbo needed to be replaced at a cost of between £1,700 to £2,000, so I authorised the repair of the valve instead at a cost of £323. However, this did not fix the issue.
I therefore took my car to an alternative garage, and they said that there was nothing wrong with the turbo, and solved the problem by replacing the fuel filter and the control solenoid.
As a resolution to my complaint, I am looking for the dealership to acknowledge my complaint, and provide a full refund of the repair cost (£323) so that I am not left out of pocket.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer authorised us to replace the vacuum solenoid as a cheaper alternative to replacing the turbo.
- We explained that if a turbo had been fitted to the vehicle and did not cure the fault, we would not have charged her for this work.
- We had no time left on the day to carry out further diagnostics, so the consumer took the vehicle to another garage. We believe that this was one fault masking another and not unusual in our industry.
- As such, we dispute the fact that we failed to use reasonable skill and care when conducting repairs, and will therefore not be offering any other remedy to the complaint.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator explained that the consumer had the evidential burden of showing that there had been a breach of the Service and Repair Code.
- Furthermore, the consumer needed to show that the business had failed to use reasonable skill and care by failing to correctly diagnose and repair the fault.
- Upon a review of the evidence available, the adjudicator found that the consumer had submitted an opinion from an independent technician. However, this was not in a standardised format or support the conclusion that the accredited business had failed to exercise reasonable skill and care.
- It was then pointed out that fault diagnosis is not a straightforward process. Vehicles are comprised of multiple complex parts which can fail for various reasons. Simply because a similar symptom has emerged from the vehicle, from an area which was repaired by the business previously, this did not necessarily indicate that the workmanship of the business had fallen below the required standards.
- The adjudicator concluded that the consumer had not submitted any independent technical evidence to support the conclusion that the business had failed to follow the correct diagnostic and repair pathway. Consequently, the finding made was that there was no breach of the Service and Repair Code.
- Therefore, the complaint was not upheld in the consumer’s favour.
- The business did not offer a response and the consumer accepted the decision. As a result, the case was closed.