Used car transmission failure

The consumer’s issue:

“In 2017, I purchased a car that was three years old, with approximately 11,000 miles on the clock. However, six months and 14 days after I bought it, and having only covered about 7,000 miles, the vehicle broke down with a gearbox fault. I took the car back to the business to be looked into, and I was told the gearbox system had failed, and that I would have to pay £1,453 for the necessary repairs, which I duly did. I wasn’t expecting the transmission to stop working within six months of purchase, so I don’t think the car was of satisfactory quality when it was sold to me. I am therefore looking for the business to refund me back the money I paid for the gearbox.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The failure couldn’t have been there at the point of sale, as it was the automatic gear unit that caused this, and this part just wears out.
  • The consumer has been towing a caravan for the last six months with no faults, and the failure has occurred after the first six months of purchase, meaning we’re no longer responsible.

The adjudication outcome:

  • Based on the evidence provided, the adjudicator upheld the complaint and said the gearbox had failed prematurely.
  • He recommended a refund of the money the consumer had paid for the replacement transmission, but the business disagreed with the adjudication outcome.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman agreed with the adjudication outcome, and also upheld the customer’s complaint.
  • She said the consumer had paid £10,000 for a car that was three and a half years old. At the time of failure, the customer said the car was four years old with around 18,000 miles on the clock. Therefore, it was unreasonable to suggest that the failure was due to use and wear and tear.
  • The ombudsman stated that it was reasonable for a consumer to expect a gearbox to be much more durable, especially considering the age and mileage of the car.
  • The ombudsman noted that the business in their initial response had said the mechatronic unit had failed, with no explanation as to why it would stop working. But, in subsequent correspondence, the business had said that the gearbox had simply worn out.
  • The ombudsman noted that the business hadn’t provided any evidence to support their stance on the complaint. In addition, the replacement parts were no longer available, nor were they offered to the consumer for her retention.
  • The ombudsman said there was no proof to suggest that the car had been used to tow a caravan.
  • Therefore, she concluded that, based on all the information available, the gearbox had failed prematurely and she did not think it was fair that the consumer incurred the cost of its replacement.