The consumer’s issue:
“In January 2019, I purchased an almost new ’18-plate estate car from a local dealership, and I had no problems with the vehicle until October that year when it broke down without warning.
The mechanic from the recovery company could not repair the car on site, but believed the issue to be a clutch problem. Although the engine could be started, no gears could be selected. As the closest franchise dealerships were located some distance away from where I live, I took the vehicle to an independent garage. They proceeded to investigate the problem and repair the faults within a couple of days of me leaving the car with them.
When I received the bill for £1,152, it was a lot more than I was anticipating, and I asked the garage to retain the parts which had been removed during the work. I therefore got in touch with the manufacturer informing them of the cost in order to get reimbursed for the repairs, but my claim was declined because I had not used the manufacturer’s breakdown service, and the car had not been towed to a franchise dealer for repairs.
However, I explained that I was not aware that I was a member of the breakdown service, and was not told about this at the point of sale. Had I known this, I would have cancelled my existing policy costing £60.
I have still not received anything to confirm that I am eligible to use the breakdown service, and therefore I feel that I have been treated unfairly, as neither the manufacturer, nor the dealership are offering to contribute to the costs that I have incurred.”
The accredited business’ response:
- As part of our new car warranty, it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to take the vehicle to a franchise dealership to diagnose any issues that have occurred.
- Once these have been investigated, it can then be determined whether the problems result from a manufacturing defect, and can be repaired under the warranty.
- The dealership confirmed that they were contacted by the consumer who advised that the clutch had burnt out, and due to the heat damage, this had shattered the clutch plate.
- The business advised the consumer that, if the clutch plate had heat damage, that this generally happens due to how the vehicle is driven.
- As we were not provided with the opportunity to investigate the concern, we were unable to confirm if the failure was caused by a manufacturing defect.
- We further advised the customer that, due to the clutch component being categorised as a wear and tear component, it is automatically excluded from warranty coverage, unless it can be shown that the failure was caused by a manufacturing defect.
- Furthermore, as the repair was completed outside of the franchise network, it was not possible to confirm if the repair was completed to the correct standard.
- As a result, we have declined to provide goodwill to cover the cost of the repair.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the complaint, as well as the evidence that was submitted by both parties.
- The adjudicator pointed out that the evidential burden was on the consumer to prove that the cause of the faulty clutch and flywheel was due to a manufacturing defect covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- In terms of the of the warranty, the clutch components are considered wear and tear items and are excluded from coverage. However, if the components suffer from a manufacturing defect (including if it’s wear and tear), then the terms stated that the manufacturer was obliged to repair the components under the warranty.
- The invoice provided showed that the clutch and flywheel were damaged, but this was not clear evidence of a manufacturing defect.
- This meant that the vehicle manufacturer was not required to cover the £1,152 cost of the repair of the components, meaning the consumer’s complaint could not be upheld in their favour, as there had not been a breach of the New Car Code by the business.
- The business agreed with the adjudication outcome. The consumer did not respond or provide any additional evidence in support of their complaint.
- Due to no response from the consumer within the timeframe required, the adjudicator closed the case.