The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a ’59-plate saloon in September 2018, and bought a six-month extended warranty agreement. In March 2019, I contacted the warranty company, as my car may have had an issue with the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve. They booked the vehicle into an approved workshop on 11th March, and they found an issue with the EGR valve, fuel injectors and coil packs. This cost £622 to repair, and they refunded £333 plus the £72 cost of the diagnosis to me.
Unfortunately, the repairs didn’t fix the fault, and my car went back to the approved workshop. However, they couldn’t find the problem, but the original noise had disappeared. The car was therefore taken into another garage on the 3rd April, and the inspection revealed a faulty nitrogen oxide (NOx) sensor and fuel injector. After a delay due to the incorrect part being sent to the business, the work was completed under the warranty on 25th April and cost £1,000, but I only had to pay £180 in line with the excess on my policy.
The day after, I let the warranty provider know that the issue had still not been fixed and I took the vehicle to a garage of my choice on 30th April. They diagnosed a timing chain problem and an independent engineering inspector was sent to look at the car. They agreed that it was a timing chain and tensioner issue, and that the previous faults had been mis-diagnosed. However, the claim to replace the timing chain under warranty was declined. Therefore, I paid for the repair out of my own pocket, and the removed parts were sent to the warranty company for inspection.
To resolve this dispute, I am looking for the warranty company to pay £900 for the cost of replacing unnecessary parts, being without the car on three/four occasions and picking it up in exactly the same condition each time (i.e. a loud noise coming from the engine at 1,000 to 2,500 rpm), after I was told the car was fine.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer had a particularly difficult journey with the repairs to their car, and they came to us with a claim to refund them £900 for the work to their car that they believed was not necessary.
- We agreed with the customer to send a copy of the independent inspection report to the head office of the approved workshop network to find out if they were willing to accept that the original repairs had not been necessary.
- However, they concluded that they were unable to provide a refund for the original work that had been undertaken. This is because the before and after scans of the fault codes found that these faults were present before the repair, and had been cleared by the work undertaken by the approved workshop.
- We feel that we have spent a great deal of time, effort and funds trying to help this customer to get their car back on the road as quickly as possible, and to obtain a goodwill payment from the business that carried out the repairs.
- Nevertheless, we reached the point where there was nothing more that we could do in his case.
- Any amount paid out to a customer must meet the terms of the warranty as a valid claim, and therefore we are unable to uphold the customer’s complaint in these circumstances.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator stated that the onus was on the consumer to prove that the issue with the timing chain was covered by the warranty agreement.
- Also, the business was only obliged to cover repair costs when a covered component suffers from a sudden and unexpected breakdown.
- The business told The Motor Ombudsman that they would not be covering the cost of the timing chain repair as the part had not suffered a sudden and unexpected failure as per the terms of the warranty and the inspection report provided, and there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.
- Regarding the other repairs which were covered under warranty, it was deemed acceptable for the consumer to pay the excess under the terms of the warranty.
- Therefore, it was not recommended that the business refunded the money to the consumer.
- The adjudicator also highlighted that vehicles are mechanical products and it can require a process of trial and error to source the route of a fault.
- It was concluded that the warranty provider was following the professional advice given to them by the approved workshop, and covered the cost of the repairs accordingly with the customer covering the excess.
- As a result, the adjudicator did not find the business to be in breach of their obligations, and the consumer’s complaint was not upheld in their favour.
- Neither the business nor the consumer challenged the outcome made by the adjudicator, and the case was closed.