The consumer’s issue:
“I took my car the dealership to investigate a juddering fault when automatically changing gears. They diagnosed a fault with the oxygen sensor and said it would cost £277 for the investigation and repairs. The business reassured me that the repair would resolve the problem, so I agreed to it. A few hours later, they called me to say the cost for the work would actually be £400, but confirmed to me again that this would cure the issue, so I authorised it.
Once I collected the car, I noticed the judder was still present, so I returned to the dealership and they said there was a fault with the gearbox. I’d already suspected there was a problem with the transmission, and I’d taken it to them to tell me what the fault was, as they were a franchised dealer and had specialist equipment. My car is 14 years old and, if I’d known the oxygen sensor repair wouldn’t resolve the judder, I would’ve taken my vehicle to a local garage and had it repaired for a fraction of their cost. I would therefore like the dealership to refund me the money I paid them to rectify the issue.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The car was booked in for investigation into an illuminated engine management light and judder when changing gears, and the consumer signed a job card for this diagnosis.
- We identified a fault with the oxygen sensor, and we asked for further diagnostic time for the sensor issue, which the consumer authorised.
- We replaced the sensor, and this resolved the fault with the engine management warning light.
- Post-repair checks didn’t identify any judder when changing gears. However, around five days’ later, the car was returned to investigate a judder problem. We carried out a diagnosis free of charge and identified a defective transmission, but the consumer declined the repairs, and we don’t believe that they are due a refund.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator reviewed the evidence, but they didn’t believe the dealership had done anything wrong.
- The adjudicator accepted that the consumer was told or given the impression that the oxygen sensor would cure the fault, but he didn’t think this warranted a refund.
- He said the job card was evidence that the consumer had asked the dealership to investigate the engine management light as well as the judder.
- There was evidence that the customer had authorised the oxygen sensor repair, and that it had resolved the fault with the light, so no refund was due.
- The adjudicator acknowledged the dealership hadn’t been able to replicate the judder fault initially, but the repairs they did complete were done using reasonable care and skill.
- The consumer disagreed with the adjudicator’s findings and asked for an ombudsman’s final decision.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman reviewed the evidence and decided to partially uphold the customer’s complaint.
- She said it was clear the consumer had agreed for both the engine management light and the judder to be investigated, as evidenced by the signed job card. She was also satisfied that the repair undertaken to resolve the engine management light was carried out with reasonable care and skill, so did not uphold this point.
- However, she wasn’t persuaded that the dealership had carried out an investigation into the judder during the initial visit.
- She said that, although the consumer asked for the judder to be investigated, and this was supported by the job card, the repair invoice made no reference to a judder investigation. Therefore, the ombudsman said the dealership hadn’t carried out the diagnostic check they were paid to do.
- But she noted this was subsequently put right because the car was returned to the dealership where the judder was confirmed, and a fault was identified with the gearbox. This check was completed free of charge, so she didn’t think the dealership needed to refund any diagnostic costs to the customer.
- However, the ombudsman noted the consumer had been very detailed in their complaint, and had referred to several telephone conversations they’d had with the dealership and recalled the names of staff they’d spoken to. During each call, the consumer had said that they’d been reassured that replacing the oxygen sensor would resolve the judder fault.
- The ombudsman found the consumer’s testimony to be both plausible and persuasive. In fact, she noted the dealership hadn’t addressed the comments made by the customer, nor had they supplied recordings of the calls.
- The ombudsman understood that the car was 14 years old with over 70,000 miles on the clock, so she was convinced that the consumer would’ve taken the car to a local garage to have the oxygen sensor repaired had they known that this repair would not cure the judder.
- Therefore, as the work hadn’t solved the problem, she upheld this complaint point and said that the dealership should refund the difference between what they charged for the repair and what a local garage would have billed. This was calculated to be a difference of approximately £175.
- Both parties agreed with the final decision, and the consumer was reimbursed £175 in line with the ombudsman’s award.