Ventilation system issues

The consumer’s issue:

“I purchased a brand-new 20-plate hatchback from a dealership in March 2020, but just a few weeks after buying it, there was a problem with the ventilation system. I took the vehicle back to dealership three times, but they couldn’t find any faults. Eventually, another branch looked at it and found I had been breathing in residue from the heat box, as it was being pumped into the interior of the car.

The manufacturer dealt rectified the problem under their new car warranty, but refused to provide any form of compensation, other than a £500 voucher. Our medical records show that we have suffered from sinus problems as a result of this issue, but the manufacturer has refused to do anything further.

As a resolution to my complaint, I would like the finance payments I made whilst the fault was present either to be fully or partially refunded by the business.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The vehicle owner explained that they had a concern about white dust-like particles entering the inside of the car.
  • During the inspection in July 2020, it was not possible to determine the cause of the dust in the vehicle. At the time, our technical team checked the manufacturer database, and there were no known defects on this hatchback.
  • Therefore, we changed the cabin air filter at no cost to the customer under the terms of the manufacturer’s new car warranty.
  • In the absence of any technical bulletin from the manufacturer we were unable to offer a further remedy at the time.
  • A year later, in July 2021, our other branch inspected the vehicle and checked the manufacturer database for technical service bulletins. It was found that one had actually been issued relating to this concern on December 2020, and was updated in January 2021.
  • The heater box was therefore replaced at no cost to the customer, whilst a courtesy car was also provided.
  • We therefore strongly refute any claims of negligence and, as the consumer has had full use of their vehicle, it is appropriate that they continued to make their monthly finance payments.
  • The manufacturer has already offered £500 in compensation, meaning anything more than this would not be commensurate with the situation. Again, we apologise for the inconvenience caused to the consumer, but we are satisfied we have done everything possible to assist.
  • Unfortunately, cars develop faults, and the manufacturer provides a warranty to cover these eventualities.
  • The vehicle is now operating to the manufacturer’s specification, and we are not aware of the reoccurrence of any other faults.

The adjudication outcome:

  •   The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator explained that the business had the evidential burden of demonstrating that the fault had not been present since the point of sale. This is because the first time this issue was raised by the consumer was within the first six months of ownership.
  • Looking at the invoices and bulletin information provided, it was evident the issue with the heatbox was most likely to be a manufacturing defect. As such, the adjudicator was convinced the issues with the vehicle were present when the consumer first purchased the car.
  • The adjudicator partially agreed with the comments by the business on the fact the issue with the heatbox was not desirable, but did not impact the operation of the vehicle. However, it also had to be considered that the vehicle was brand new and no reasonable consumer should expect any fault from the start of ownership, regardless of the fact the vehicle was still operational.
  • The adjudicator concluded that the hatchback sold to the consumer was most likely to be unsatisfactory at the point of sale, meaning the complaint was upheld in their favour.
  • Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the consumer would have been entitled to have the vehicle repaired or replaced, or to be able to reject it. The dealership duly rectified the customer’s vehicle at no additional cost to the consumer, which was the correct action to take.
  • With no faults with the vehicle remaining, the vehicle could be deemed to be of satisfactory quality, meaning the consumer was not be entitled to any further award.
  • The adjudicator explained that any issues the consumer had regarding monthly finance payments, should be made with the finance provider as opposed to the retailer.
  • He also noted that there is no obligation for any party to provide compensation, and that any offer would be made at the discretion of the business.
  • In fact, the only obligation that was on the dealership was to repair the vehicle, which had already been done.


  • The business agreed with the adjudication outcome.
  • No response was received from the consumer, which meant that the case was closed.