Our reader bought a car 11 weeks ago from a dealer. After five weeks, he had to take it back because the brakes were grinding. The dealer sorted that out free of charge. Now the clutch flywheel needs replacing the dealer wants to do the work under warranty. But it will cost £850 and the warranty will only cover £500 of that, leaving our reader £350 out of pocket.
How long you’ve owned the car is important
If you’ve owned a car for less than six months (26 weeks), the 2015 Consumer Rights Act is very clear. It is up to the garage to prove that the car was of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described when it sold you the car. In this case, it must prove that the problem with the clutch wasn’t present when it sold you the car.
Rights vs. warranty
We’ve come across this problem before from readers. They buy a car from a garage; there’s a problem with the car shortly after they took delivery; the garage wants to fix the problem under warranty.
From the garage’s perspective, this is perfectly understandable. If it accepts the car wasn’t fit for purpose when it sold it, it would have to rectify any problems at its own cost. If it does the work under warranty, the company supplying the guarantee will pay it.
For the consumer, it’s less than ideal. The garage – as in this case – is asking them to pay for work that they shouldn’t have to pay for. The garage needs to be made to understand that the consumer’s rights should be applied rather than the warranty.
What should you do?
You need to approach the garage and say you don’t want it to do the work under warranty. On top of that, make it clear that you do not expect to pay any money to have the clutch flywheel fixed. You should give the garage the opportunity to sort the problem.
If the garage protests, it must prove that the problem wasn’t present when you bought the car. Even if you talk to them face to face, you should set all this out in a letter to the garage.
If the garage can’t fix the problem, the law says you can reject the car. Rejecting a car within 30 days of buying it, entitles you to a full refund of everything you paid for the car.
If you reject it between 30 days and six months of buying it, you are entitled to a refund but the dealer can deduct some money for your use of the car.
Is there anything you can do to avoid the problem?
Cars are very complex things. We would always advise that you have an independent inspection before handing over any money. That is unless you’re buying a car on an ‘approved used’ scheme from a manufacturer franchised garage. These run 100-plus checks on cars and should hopefully spot any potential problems before they arise. But even if your car is from a scheme like this, it’s worth remembering that the Consumer Rights Act still covers you.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.