Heavy used car clutch

The consumer’s issue:

“I bought a used car, and within the space of a few days, I realised that the clutch was too heavy. It is very stiff, and takes a large amount of pressure to push it to the floor and hold it there. Significant fatigue arises when driving the vehicle for any longer than 15 minutes, particularly when driving around town.

I phoned the sales department to ask if I could exchange the car for a different one. This request was stalled on several occasions, with the salesman saying they would phone back and never doing so. My request to exchange the vehicle was eventually rejected, and they said instead said that they would inspect the car under the terms of my warranty agreement. They examined the car and agreed the clutch was heavy, but maintained that the clutch was faulty and suggested that they should replace it.

The car remained in the possession of the service centre for three weeks, after which I collected the car. There was no documentation provided detailing the work which had been completed. Upon driving it home, I found the clutch was just as heavy as it was before. Furthermore, I was immediately aware that there was significantly reduced acceleration, and before I got home, I noticed the engine warning light. The vehicle manufacturer’s manual states: “Take the car to a dealer, failure to do so may affect your warranty”. I therefore returned to the business the very same day.

The service centre looked under the bonnet and found a loose engine pipe and took the car back in to get this replaced. On driving the car away, the warning light came back on, and I returned the vehicle back to the dealership. This time, the service centre said they would need to take the car in for a longer period. I asked for a courtesy car, which is also part of the warranty agreement, and was told by a sales manager that none were available for the rest of the day. I explained that I needed one for work purposes, but it was also suggested to me by the manager that I could just carry on driving my car instead (without any knowledge of what the fault might be yet).

The resolution I am therefore seeking is for the business to accept that they have sold me a car of unsatisfactory quality for a price of £9,000, and I am requesting a full refund. The fact that it took three return trips to the service centre (in the space of a single day) to get the problems acknowledged, has led to a lack of confidence in the dealership, the car and the warranty.” 

The accredited business’ response:

  • The car had a full MOT and health check service completed before the customer collected it.
  • The customer also test drove the car prior to purchase, and if the clutch was too heavy, they had the opportunity to advise us before, at the point of sale, which they did not.
  • There were no reported faults at the point of sale, and the car was sold in full working order as advertised.
  • The customer drove away and said the clutch was heavy after a couple of days.
  • The car was returned to have the clutch looked at, but no fault found was found. As a goodwill gesture, we replaced the clutch at a cost to our business.
  • The car was picked up by the customer, and the engine malfunction light illuminated on the dashboard. This was not a fault, but a maintenance issue, and was rectified for the customer free of charge.
  • When the consumer brought the car in, due to there being a loose pipe, this was fixed the very same day.
  • We have gone above and beyond to try and assist the customer, and have incurred additional costs to do so.

The adjudication outcome:

  • Based on the evidence provided, The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator found the business repaired all the faults the consumer noted free of charge.
  • Seeing as the consumer chose to have his faults repaired, as opposed to being refunded, it’s not proportionately reasonable to request a refund as per the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
  • Section 23, Subsection 6 says: “A consumer who requires or agrees to the repair of goods, cannot require the trader to replace them, or exercise the short-term right to reject, without giving the trader a reasonable time to repair them.”
  • With that in mind, by allowing repairs to be carried out by the business, the consumer effectively waived his right to a short-term rejection and refund. Therefore, he was not able to ask for a refund if the fault had been repaired.
  • For this reason, the adjudicator could not uphold the customer’s complaint.


  • The customer did not accept the adjudication outcome based on the above, and requested a final decision from the ombudsman.