We are a Porsche specialist and bought in to resell what we thought was a clean 911 from a private customer. It came with a relatively low mileage of 26k and a full service history. The mileage appeared to be consistent with both the service and the MOT records.
After owning the car for nine months and doing 7,500 miles in the car the customer noticed a slight knocking noise when the engine was cold. The car was returned to us and we stripped the engine revealing scoring on three cylinders. On further inspection the ECU was examined and while the dash computer was showing 33k miles the ECU showed 50k. The fix is either a full rebuild by us or a new or reconditioned engine but then as the customer indicates he will not have the car he thought he had. What shall we do?
Clearly this was present in the car before you bought it and in circumstances where all the paperwork checks out you will not be prosecuted for selling a clocked vehicle. The resolution is going to be costly however you deal with it. The car you sold was not what the customer thought they were buying or ‘as described’ as the Sale of Goods Act would have it. You could refund the customer, less a figure for the 7,500 miles they have done or find a replacement. The alternative is to persuade them to accept the rebuild or the new engine, but the mileage would have to be reset to the higher value. It may be that they might agree with a cash adjustment.
My recommendation is that you go the ‘replace or refund with allowance’ route and then sell the vehicle on as quickly as you can with the proper mileage once you have undertaken the work. I appreciate that this is going to be costly but there is little you can do to avoid a loss in circumstances such as these. Your compensation is that your reputation will remain intact and you’ll hopefully retain your original customer.
Who is Lucy Bonham Carter?
She is a leading commercial lawyer specialising in automotive. She heads the legal team at autoLaw, a multi-disciplinary insurance and legal practice which specialises in providing legal assistance on motor trade-related legal issues and she provides advice to Car Dealer Club members.
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