The consumer’s issue:
“I bought a used car on 10th July 2016. Nearly two years’ later on 12th January 2018, my car broke down on the way to work. It was taken to my nearest manufacturer’s network dealership for repairs, and being under three years of age, my vehicle was still under warranty.
After several days, the dealer said that the car had complete engine failure and would need a new engine. The manufacturer then started to quibble about the warranty, as the car had not been serviced at a manufacturer’s network dealer. My car was serviced at 12,537 miles by my local independent garage on 02nd June 2017, and genuine parts were fitted to meet the requirement of the Block Exemption Regulation.
The dealer suggested I contact the vehicle manufacturer’s customer services department to raise my concerns, which I did. However, they rejected my claim, stating that my warranty agreement was void.
I found this response from them to be very confusing, because on a separate occasion, I previously took my car to a dealer where work was carried out under the warranty. At this point, the policy was acknowledged and acted upon. At no point did the business indicate any other issue regarding the parts or oil used, or indicate any concerns with the engine. The current problem only occurred after this visit to the dealership. The resolution I am seeking is for the manufacturer to honour their warranty and repair my car fully at no cost to myself.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The customer opened the case with our Customer Service Centre on 18th January 2018.
- The consumer advised that their vehicle had broken down, and was recovered to their nearest authorised dealer that said that the vehicle required a new engine. The dealer also stated that the repair would not be covered under warranty because the incorrect grade of oil had been used, the vehicle had not been serviced in line with manufacturer recommendations, and non-genuine parts had been fitted during the service.
- The customer said that they were not prepared to pay for the repairs, and said that we, the manufacturer, were breaking the warranty contract. The agent however, informed the customer that the servicing booklet clearly stated the terms of warranty.
- The customer wrote to us again on 29th January 2018 asking that we reconsider our decision, but we advised that this would not be possible, as the vehicle had not been maintained as per the terms of our warranty, and reflected our judgement following the results of the warranty technician who carried out an inspection of the vehicle.
- The consumer advised that the last service was carried out by a non-authorised dealer at 12,357 miles on 02nd June 2017.
- The car was also taken to the network in December 17 for the repair of the timing variator, which was successfully covered under warranty.
- From the information that we have, we concluded that the vehicle was not maintained correctly in accordance with the terms of the warranty.
- Nevertheless, under the Block Exemption Regulation, the customer is entitled to have their vehicle serviced wherever they choose. However, to maintain the validity of the warranty, genuine parts must be used along with the correct oil.
The adjudication outcome:
- In the course of The Motor Ombudsman’s adjudication process, it was proven that the oil used during the servicing of the vehicle was in fact correct, and the manufacturer accepted liability for the warranty repair of the engine.
- The consumer had since sent in claims for losses incurred by them due to the warranty repair not being originally accepted when the claim was first submitted.
- The adjudicator noted that the manufacturer’s warranty has limitations, which exclude its liability for the customer incurring additional costs in instances where warranty claims are successful.
- However, in the case, the losses incurred by the consumer were the direct result of the business not accepting a repair, which should have been covered under warranty. In addition, the original information supplied prior to referral to The Motor Ombudsman would have led to a warranty claim being accepted under normal circumstances.
- As a result, in the eyes of the law and the Code of Practice, it was determined that the manufacturer failing to accept that claim under warranty was a breach of the relationship between them and the consumer, which led directly to those costs being accrued.
- Therefore, in addition to the repair of the engine at no cost to the consumer, the adjudicator awarded the following costs totaling £701.15:
- £281.15 for damage to the vehicle (corroded brakes), due to it being stationary whilst the work was declined under warranty;
- £360 for temporary repairs at an independent garage that would not have been incurred had a warranty claim been accepted at that initial submission; and
- £60 for the cost of recovery of the vehicle to the independent garage.
- Both parties agreed to the adjudication outcome, and the outstanding claims were paid.