Used car clutch failure

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a used car with approximately 54,000 miles on the clock. However, a couple of days later, the vehicle cut out as I was travelling to work. I managed to engage the clutch and get the car to a safe position. I then had it recovered to the business, and they told me I had to pay for a replacement clutch. They said I rode the clutch and damaged it, which meant that the repair wasn’t covered under warranty. I haven’t ridden the clutch, so I asked to keep the parts, and had an independent report from DEKRA that concluded that I didn’t cause the clutch failure.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The car was brought in to us and we identified that the clutch needed replacing.
  • In conversation with the consumer, he said he had ridden the clutch, which would have been the cause of the clutch failure.
  • We applied to the manufacturer for any goodwill support, but they unfortunately declined.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator didn’t uphold the customer’s complaint as she hadn’t been provided with the DEKRA report. Therefore, they concluded that there was no evidence of a fault other than driver error.
  • The consumer disagreed with the adjudication outcome and asked for an ombudsman’s final decision.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman said that the business had a responsibility to supply a car that was of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
  • The ombudsman noted the business had said that the consumer had admitted to riding the clutch, bit the customer disputed this.
  • The ombudsman stated that it was not possible to verify what had been said during conversations between the parties, so she focused on how long the consumer had had possession of the car for and what the DEKRA report had found.
  • The ombudsman noted that, based on the limited information available, it appeared that the clutch had broken down three days after purchase, and after the consumer had only covered 231 miles.
  • She also saw that the DEKRA report had found the clutch to be a non-genuine part. Therefore, it was likely that it had been changed prior to the consumer’s purchase.
  • She also noted that the DEKRA report had concluded that, based on the visible damage, the failure had been caused as a result of driver error.
  • The ombudsman went on to conclude that the DEKRA report hadn’t stated whether it was possible for this damage to have been caused by the consumer.
  • There was equally no evidence to show what had been discussed between the customer and the business about his style of driving. Therefore, she concluded that, as the evidence was incomplete, it was fair and reasonable that both the consumer and the business split the cost of repairs equally.