The consumer’s issue:
“I purchased a new hatchback in May 2015, and three years later, I took it to the dealership for the MOT. However, it failed because the nearside front wheel bearing was found to be rough when rotated and it needed to be replaced. The nearside and offside rear outer light units also needed to be changed. The latter two were replaced under warranty, but the manufacturer refused to also cover the wheel bearing under warranty, despite it being a listed part. They said there was cosmetic damage to the rim of the wheel and so I must have broken it. But, I haven’t been involved in an accident, and the car hasn’t been subjected to any damage that would explain the wheel bearing fault.
I agreed to have the work done to replace the bearing bridge, and I was told that I should be able to claim the money back for an issue that should be covered under warranty, once I had contacted the vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department. However, after they spoke to the dealer, they were told that this part would not be covered under warranty as the original bearing bridge was not a genuine component. However, it had never previously been replaced, and the car was bought from a franchise dealership.
I feel as if I have been misled, as both the dealership and the vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department have been unable to resolve a warranty issue which has left me out of pocket. I therefore expect a refund of the £270 paid for the bearing bridge replacement, work which was undertaken whilst the car was still under the new car warranty.
The accredited business’ response:
- The customer took the car to one of our dealerships, and they advised that the replacement of the wheel bearing would not be covered under warranty, as there was a scratch on the alloy.
- They therefore believed that the wheel bearing damage was caused by a knock or bump to the wheel itself, meaning that the replacement would not be covered under warranty.
- As this was classed as an external influence, no gesture of goodwill could be offered to the consumer on this occasion.
The adjudication outcome:
- The adjudicator considered the complaint, but didn’t uphold it in the consumer’s favour because it was up to the customer to prove that the wheel bearing hadn’t suffered damage from an external influence, and as such, no evidence had been provided to demonstrate this.
- The consumer disagreed with this outcome and requested a final decision from the ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s final decision:
- The ombudsman remarked that the photographs of the alloy provided by the consumer didn’t show any impact damage consistent with a wheel that had suffered from a bump or a knock.
- Instead, she stated that there was damage consistent with curbing of the wheels, which was different to a wheel that had suffered from a knock or bump.
- In addition, the vehicle manufacturer hadn’t provided any evidence to show that the curbing of the wheels would have caused the bearing bridge damage.
- Therefore, she concluded that the bearing bridge replacement should have been covered under the three-year new car warranty, and upheld the complaint in the consumer’s favour.
- The vehicle manufacturer agreed to reimburse the consumer the £270 paid for the bearing bridge replacement, and the case was closed.