Use of all nine gears

The consumer’s issue:

I bought a car with a nine-speed gearbox. In manual mode, I can select ninth gear at around 70 mph but in automatic mode, ninth gear won’t select until 74 mph, meaning I can’t legally use ninth gear in this country. I think I should be able to use all of the gears, as that’s what I bought, and I would like the manufacturer to change the settings of the gearbox to allow automatic mode to select ninth gear at 70 mph.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The car has been tested and is performing according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • The gearbox will adapt to individual driving style and will select the gear that is best for efficiency and fuel consumption.
  • The gearbox is designed for a range of markets and is not specifically meant to engage ninth gear at 70 mph. We don’t consider that a repair is necessary.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator didn’t uphold the consumer’s complaint. There were no reported defects with the gearbox after testing, and no advertising that said the gearbox was meant to engage ninth gear at 70 mph.
  • The consumer remained unhappy as he felt it was reasonable for him to expect to be able to use all nine gears based on the fact that he bought a nine-speed gearbox.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman explained that the Code of Practice for New Cars has two purposes in this context – to ensure advertising is clear and not misleading, and that if there is a manufacturing defect, it is rectified free of charge under warranty.
  • Here, the advertising just said it was a nine-speed gearbox and didn’t specify that this meant the car would utilise all gears at any given time. Therefore, the advertising could not be seen as misleading.
  • Additionally, the gearbox had been tested and road-tested, and no faults had been found so there was no manufacturing defect for the warranty to rectify.
  • The consumer was advised to contact the seller as this fell more into whether the car was of satisfactory quality, and it is the retailer that is responsible for this, not the manufacturer.