The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a used 18-plate hatchback from a dealership in October 2020. In July 2021, I took the vehicle for its annual service and was told that two of my alloy wheels had sustained irreparable buckling damage and would need to be replaced as a matter of urgency. I had no reason to doubt the dealership’s technicians, so I agreed to have new ones fitted at a cost of over £1,000.
However, after the service was completed, I took the damaged wheels to two independent alloy wheel specialists, and they said that one wheel was in perfect condition, whilst the other had a small dent in it that would have only cost £50 to repair.
I therefore complained to the dealership and asked them to remove the new wheels from my car, and for their costs to be refunded so that I could have the original wheels repaired. However, the business declined.
I believe I was misled into agreeing to the replacement of my wheels, and the dealership should have informed me that the alloys could have been be repaired elsewhere. To resolve my complaint, I am seeking a full refund for the cost of the new parts and for the old wheels to be returned to me.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer’s wheels were inspected as part of the visual health check that was provided as part of the servicing. A video was sent to the consumer, which showed that there were buckles in the driver’s side rear wheel, and passenger side front wheel.
- In cases such as this, both the vehicle manufacturer and the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) have provided guidelines (ISO14400) that the wheels must be replaced, and that repair is not considered to be acceptable due to the potential for future failures. Identical guidance is also provided by several other European alloy wheel manufacturing bodies.
- We therefore believe it was entirely appropriate for us to recommend the replacement of the damaged wheels and do not feel that any refund is warranted on this occasion.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator explained that the consumer had the evidential burden of demonstrating the issues currently suffered were directly related to the workmanship of the dealership.
- They also reviewed the documentation in relation to this dispute, and noted that, as a franchise dealership, they had an obligation to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines which prevented the repair of alloy wheels presented with buckles and cracks. Therefore, the business correctly recommended their replacement.
- As such, the adjudicator explained that he believed it was entirely appropriate for the dealership to recommend the wheels were replaced as had occurred, to avoid placing the consumer and other road users in danger.
- Therefore, no breach of the Service and Repair Code was found, and the complaint was not upheld in the consumer’s favour.
- Neither the consumer nor the dealership objected to the adjudicator’s findings, and the case was closed.