The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a one-year old supermini in August 2014, but since buying the car from the dealership, I’ve had a consistent issue with the coil packs breaking down. My mechanic advised me that they should last for a reasonable amount of time, but this hasn’t happened in my case.
When the car was just over two years old, and with only 23,000 miles on the clock, I took the vehicle back to the dealership in July 2015 for the coil pack to be replaced. Nevertheless, after covering another 7,300 miles in the ten months that followed, the coil pack failed, and another one was fitted in May 2016. New spark plugs were also replaced in March 2017 by an independent garage. But, 26 months and a further 15,000 miles later, the coil pack and spark plugs had to be changed by a franchise dealer in August 2018 due to them being corroded. At this point, the car had done 45,337 miles.
There’s clearly something wrong with the coil packs being provided by the manufacturer, and I’d like them to reimburse me the costs of £397.23 which I paid for the last set of repairs, as well as the wasted time and expenses incurred in all the incidents whereby the vehicle has not been driveable.”
The accredited business’ response:
- We reviewed the invoices supplied by the consumer, and can see that, in March 2017, only the spark plugs were replaced and not the coil pack. Therefore, we will not be covering the cost of this repair, as the components used were not genuine manufacturer approved parts, and can therefore not guarantee the work carried out by an independent garage.
- We can see from the invoice that, in August 2018, the consumer had the coil pack and spark plugs replaced by an authorised dealership, as the parts had corroded.
- However, at the time of these repairs, the manufacturer’s warranty had expired, and the cost of any work would therefore not be covered.
- We’re unable to assure the customer how long parts may last, as they can fail for several reasons. But, as a one-off goodwill gesture, we’re happy to reimburse £184.65 for the cost of the coil pack and spark plug, or provide the consumer with a free service voucher.
- If the part does fail again, we would advise the consumer to take the car to an approved dealership and retain any affected components.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator made it clear that the organisation is not able to award compensation for wasted time and expenses i.e. losses which are not easily quantifiable, such as inconvenience or stress.
- The consumer claimed they had consistent issues with the coil pack since purchasing the car. As the last coil pack failed within an unreasonable time, they requested for this cost to be reimbursed, and an assurance that the last fitted coil pack would provide a reasonable lifespan, as previous ones had not.
- In contrast, the manufacturer stated that parts can fail at any age or mileage, and the business would be unable to guarantee to the customer, how long parts may last.
- The adjudicator concluded that the offer of goodwill made by the business was fair, and that the customer should consider accepting it.
- However, the consumer remained unhappy with the assessment by the adjudicator, and requested an ombudsman’s final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman considered the complaint and agreed it was unusual to for the coil pack to be replaced three times in three years, and with only average mileage having been covered.
- However, she said there was no diagnostic evidence to show what had caused them to stop working, and whether the failure was a manufacturing defect, or whether there was something else wrong with the car which was potentially causing damage to the coil pack.
- The ombudsman also went on to explain that the consumer had brought the complaint against the manufacturer, but stated that they had limited liability towards the consumer. She said the manufacturer’s obligations extended as far as warranty repairs, and as the car was outside the warranty period, they could not be held responsible for any failing parts on a car.
- Furthermore, the ombudsman explained that there was no contract in place between the manufacturer and the consumer, which meant that any faults with the supply and quality of parts which had been provided and fitted to the car must be directed towards the supplying and repairing dealerships.
- The ombudsman noted that the consumer was looking for a refund of £397.23 for the coil pack and spark plug replacement carried out in August 2018. However, the spark plugs had only been replaced a year earlier, and it stated on the invoice that they had corroded.
- The manufacturer stated that the spark plugs were non-genuine parts, but there was no evidence to prove or disprove whether this was actually the case. In any event, they could not be made liable for the cost of this repair.
- The ombudsman saw that the manufacturer had offered £184.65 or a service voucher as a goodwill gesture, which she deemed as a fair outcome, and also recommended to the consumer that they considered accepting one of these options.