Apologies for what will probably shape up to be a relatively lengthy initial post, but I’m keen to get all the facts down first time around (although I bet I do manage to miss something important initially!). To cut a long story short, a secondhand car that I purchased from a dealer has broken down with a totally failed fuel injection pump within two months/2000 miles of purchase, and the dealer concerned is not being entirely helpful in my dealings with him, to the point of being dismissive and rude. For that reason, I’d be interested in having your opinions on the situation to date, and my best path forward from here.
So, in more detail:-
On 23rd March 2009, I called a dealer about a 2002 registration turbo diesel MG that was advertised on Autotrader (forgive me for being vague about precise details of the car, dealer concerned and the repairing garage at this stage- I’ll fill in the gaps should they be useful later on). Subsequent to that telephone conversation there was a lengthy chain of email communication between the dealer and me whilst I ascertained the condition of the car- all of which I have kept.
The advert (and I have retained a copy) specifically referred to a recent full service and changed cam belt. This in particular is important going forwards.
On the strength of the descriptions, the claims of the recent service in the advert and additional pictures supplied from the dealer I agreed to purchase the car on 25th March, and an invoice from the dealer was emailed to me on the 26th March. I paid a deposit on that day- by credit card, because I was vaguely aware that buying goods on a credit card can afford additional legal protection if the goods later turn out to be faulty.
The balance was paid- again by credit card, over the phone, vehicle still unseen- on Thursday 2nd April, and I collected the car on Friday 3rd April. At initial inspection all appeared fine. When asked for the previous promised proof of the recent service, this initially wasn’t forthcoming, but on being pushed for it (this was a key point in buying the car as regular cam belt services are obviously crucial) the contact disappeared into the back of the garage, and was able to return with an invoice as proof of cam belt service. (note- just a cam belt service, which become important later on).
I drove the car home that day, and all was well initially. The engine appeared noisy even for a diesel, but seeing as I only had and 08 reg BMW diesel of my own to compare it with, I thought perhaps I was being unfair on the car.
On getting the car home, I find that the key for the locking wheel nut was missing. I emailed the dealer about this (again, I have kept all email correspondence) but after much prompting he decided he was unable to help, and suggested I source a replacement from a ‘main dealer’. I pointed out that the Rover main dealer network no longer existed, and received no reply. However, at this point I decided that wasn’t a deal breaker, and decided to resolve that issue myself.
However, on the morning of the 5th June the car refused to start. This was two months and three days after collection of the car, and it had done less than 2000 miles from collection. We called out Gem Recovery, who diagnosed a Fuel Injection Pump fault and suggested we have it recovered to a specialist for further analysis. (I should point out at this stage that the original dealer was over two hundred miles from my home address, where the breakdown occurred).
Eventually, the car was recovered to a local MG specialist- a very highly regarded and recommended one- and after diagnosis a failed Fuel Injection Pump was replaced at a cost of £471. We were without the car for over three weeks. The car now runs perfectly, and was driven home from that specialist- and remains parked up whilst we are in ‘negotiation’ with the original dealer.
The specialist cast doubt on the claim of a recent service- the cam belt was in poor order, the fuel injection belt was in poor order, the fuel injection pump had failed, and the oil and filter condition suggested that there had been no oil service or filer change recently, despite the dealers advert claiming that to be the case. The specialist is prepared to provide a statement to that effect, and the company who overhauled the fuel injection pump will also provide a report as to its poor condition prior to their work on it.
Subsequently, I contacted the dealer for his comments, and asked if he any suggestions to resolve an issue whereby a car he’d provided failed completely due to a significant ant total failure of the Fuel Injection Pump within just over two months of use, and just under 2000 miles of use. I was told pretty categorically that it was my problem, and a chance you take when buying a secondhand car. Again, this has all been done by email, all of which I kept.
I enquired as to whether his response was within the spirit and letter of the Sale of Goods Act, and what he thought would happen if I contacted either the credit car company, or trading standards for advice? At this point he became pretty insulting, but claimed that he could prove the specialist and me were lying because he had ‘irrefutable proof’ that the car had been serviced by another company, including a full overhaul of the Fuel Injection pump, the cam belt being changed not once, but twice, and that the whole thing was a ruse to get the repair bill paid.
I have pressed for this ‘irrefutable proof’ and as yet it has not been forthcoming. He’d let slip the name of a specialist who he’d ‘been told’ had carried out the work, but was pretty irked when I’d said I’d contact them direct. I did, and at this stage they can find no record of my car specifically, the previous owner, any work being done for the dealer by them, or any work being done by another company that the dealer claimed had performed the service and pump overhaul. In short, I am still waiting for this apparent proof which I’m pretty certain will not come.
That aside, whether proof arrives or not, the question I’m asking is that if a car purchased from a dealer fails dramatically within ten weeks and 2000 miles on ownership (and there have been recorded issues and communication with the dealer before that point) do I have a case to invoke the Sale Of Goods Act, and am I able to involve my Credit Card company should the dealer remain uncooperative?
To be honest, and in confidence, I don’t really want to reject the car for a full refund as we like the car, and now that the MG Specialist has carried out the work he has, I’m confident that the car will be reliable going forwards. I’d originally only contacted the dealer for his views on the matter and to discuss a contribution to the repair work, but he was such an arse initially, and so insulting and slippery subsequently, that I am minded to push for as much as I can under the terms of appropriate laws and legislation as he’s provoked my stubborn side!
BUT- I don’t want to become Victor Meldrew and my wife does like the car, although a contribution to the repair bill would be nice. I’d value opinions and advice on the best way forwards.
Many thanks in advance…