The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a used two-year-old coupé from a dealership in January 2017. The car had an odometer reading of around 27,000 miles, and a year left under the manufacturer’s warranty when I bought it. However, just over a year after purchase, the steering rack failed.
I took the car to a manufacturer-approved dealership, and they said the issue wasn’t the result of wear and tear, but the result of an electrical fault which was a manufacturing defect. I contacted the selling dealership to seek their assistance with the repair, but they refused to assist because the manufacturer’s warranty had lapsed. I believe the steering rack failed due to an inherent manufacturing fault, so I’d like the dealership to reimburse me for the £600 it cost me to fix it.”
The accredited business’ response:
- It has been 20 months since this car was sold to the customer, so we think it was of satisfactory quality when we delivered it to them.
- The manufacturer’s warranty has expired, and we would advise the consumer to go to their local approved dealership to try and obtain some goodwill for the repairs directly from the manufacturer.
- We won’t be reimbursing any repair costs, as we don’t believe the car was faulty at the point of sale.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the information provided, and noted the evidence from both parties was very limited.
- However, despite this, she said it was unreasonable for the steering rack to fail on a car that was under four years old with relatively low mileage.
- She said that, although there was no life expectancy for this part, it should have lasted for at least 70,000 miles.
- Because there was very little documentation to prove either side of the complaint, she said she could only partially uphold it in favour of the consumer, and recommended that the dealership covered 50% of the cost of repairs.
- The consumer accepted the decision, but the dealership didn’t respond, meaning the case was referred to an ombudsman for a final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman investigated the case and found that the consumer had contacted the dealership around 12 months after purchase, not 20 months as claimed by the business.
- She explained that a dealership had a legal obligation to supply a car that was of satisfactory quality when sold. She said that this included the durability of components.
- The ombudsman noted the car was just over three years old with 35,000 miles on the clock, so she said it was unreasonable for a steering rack to fail on a car of this age and mileage.
- The ombudsman said that, although there was no set lifespan for this component, based on information that is widely available, she was satisfied that the steering rack should have lasted much longer than it did, and it was unlikely that it had failed due to gradual wear and tear due to the relatively low mileage on the car
- However, the ombudsman stated that she couldn’t uphold the customer’s complaint because there was no diagnostic evidence on file to verify the cause of the failure and, as it had occurred around 12 months after purchase, it was the consumer’s responsibility to show the car had failed due to a fault that had been present or was developing when they purchased the vehicle.
- The ombudsman explained that she had attempted to contact the consumer numerous times to obtain further information, such as the diagnostic report carried out following the breakdown, and the invoice associated with the repair, but she hadn’t been able to reach them.
- Therefore, due to the limited information provided surrounding the failure and the underlying cause of the failure, the ombudsman said she could not uphold the complaint and award the customer a reimbursement of the repair costs.
- Neither party responded to the ombudsman’s final decision and the case was closed.