CAR Dealer Club’s lawyer has helped a dealer save thousands of pounds and avoid a tricky legal situation.
DM of Woking sold a 2007 Audi A3 to a customer four months ago who returnred complaining the DPF light was on.
To DM’s knowledge the A3 was in fully-working condition as his wife had been using it prior to the sale. However, DM appreciated that the fault could well have occurred since the customer buying the car, and advised giving the car a good blast to regenerate. This should have sorted the problem out.
‘Alternatively my mechanic said it might be an exhaust gas differential pressure sensor,’ said DM. ‘Either way I asked him to come back if the problem didn’t go away.’
However, the customer sent a bill from another garage of £1,900 for replacing the DPF and a letter from Trading Standards. ‘He told me that Trading Standards had said that I had to pay as I was liable to fix any fault with the car for the first six months.
‘Am I liable and how do I deal with this?’
We passed DM’s complaint on to Car Dealer Club lawyer, Lucy Bonham Carter, who specialises in automotive cases on dealers’ behalfs.
She replied: ‘The car is within the first six months of sale so the onus would have been on you to show any fault was not there at the time of sale under the Sales of Good Act.
‘But the act is not blind to the age and condition of the vehicle and hence it would be up to the customer to show any failure was not a result of wear-and-tear since purchase.
‘A DPF should not fail at this age but that does not necessarily mean it is your responsibility to fix it. The greater time between any purchase and any failure, the more the chance of making a successful case that the failure was not your responsibility.
‘The proper proceedure had the fault not have rectified itself as you indicated would have been to bring the car in for you to examine with a view to resolving who was responsible.
‘It may be that agreement could have been reached for a financial settlement but by having the vehicle repaired unilaterally the customer has effectively waived his rights to your contribution and any deal you would now agree to make (if any) would be entirely on a voluntary basis and as a goodwill gesture.’
Bonham Carter suggested that she stepped in to contact the customer explaining the legal position.
DM was delighted with the advice – which has saved him considerable hassle and expense. You can get advice like this simply by becoming a Car Dealer Club member for the bargain price of £25 a year.
For that you’ll get a whole year’s subscription to Car Dealer Magazine, as well as access to the legal helpline worth £199.