The consumer’s issue:
“My five-month old car has developed a serious fault with the steering pump. It is unacceptable for a vehicle of this age to suffer such an issue, and therefore I would like to reject this vehicle.”
The accredited business’ response:
- After the customer purchased the vehicle in the summer of 2017, we did not see the vehicle again until the winter later that year.
- At this point, the customer informed us of a fault, which we diagnosed as a problem with the power steering pump.
- To resolve the issue, we offered the customer the opportunity to trade-in their car or to have a reduction in the cost of the repair. The customer refused both offers.
- Given that many months passed between the point of purchase and the fault occurring, in addition to the miles travelled during this time, this demonstrates that the fault was not inherent at the point of sale.
- Based on the above, we do not accept the customer’s request to reject the vehicle.
The adjudication outcome:
- Under the contract of sale, the selling retailer has an obligation to ensure that the car is of satisfactory quality.
- When a car develops a fault within the first six months of purchase, it is presumed that it is an inherent fault which was present at the point of sale, unless the seller can prove otherwise.
- The adjudicator found that the business had been unable to justify their statements that the cause of failure occurred after the point of sale, considering that the cause of the steering pump failure was unknown.
- The vehicle mileage between purchase and the fault occurring was by itself insufficient to demonstrate that the cause of failure was not inherent at the point of sale.
- Based on the evidence submitted, the garage was unable to discharge their evidential burden, and the adjudicator found the defect to be an inherent fault.
- Since the business had not exhausted their “one shot” at repair, an award for rejection was not appropriate.
- The customer and accredited business accepted the outcome as recommended by The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator, and the case was closed without the need for a final decision from the ombudsman.