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shoddy workmanship from main dealer


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This is cutting a VERY long story short.

 

Driving along, lost power. Car wouldn't start. Called out AA, they sent recovery man. "Timing belt gone" - towed to local main dealer where I bought the car and where it's been serviced since (7 year old car, I bought it 3 years ago with 17k on the clock - been good as gold).

 

Main dealer said timing belt not gone, but timing belt tensioner gone. Engine not happy, need to take head of to look.

Bottom line of that is that I got an £1100 bill for repair, service and parts.

 

Got it back, drove to work the next day (140 mile round trip) - all seemed fine. Next day went to take missus to her works do - heater not working.

Checked car the next day, there was no water in the coolant reservoir so I topped it up. Started the engine and the coolant went pink, went for a short drive, engine warmed up ok, fan kicked in etc - all appeared well.

 

On the monday about 25 miles into journey car overheated. Drove to a car park. topped up water, tried to get engine to cool down but it wouldn't.

 

AA called out, VERY thorough, found hose clip not replaced on large hose going from engine to bottom of radiator. This leaked during pressure tested.

Diagnosis was knackered thermostat so he removed thermostat so I could get home.

 

Took to main dealer, they changed thermostat and fan switch.

 

Went to work once more, running hot but OK.

 

Christmas eve on way to work overheated again. AA man suspected fault with radiator and fan switch, towed home.

 

When I got home there was a bill for the thermostat and fan switch! no labour, just parts. wrote them a letter to say not paying.

 

Lost faith with them so took car to local mechanic garage.

 

They found water pressure very high. Took head off and found head gasket blown, head warped. Sent head off for skimming.

They put it all back together, whilst setting timing they found timing built tensioner knackerd so replaced it.

 

Also found radiator weeping, signs that it had been leaking for at least a few months. So replaced that.

 

Went to test it, all seemed OK but fan wasn't kicking in. They did a lot of testing and messing about (including trying a 2nd fand switch).

 

Checked thermostat, found damage to thermostat housing (which first AA man spotted and showed me). Damage to thermostat housing meant that thermostat wouldn't properly open therefore engine kept overheating.

 

SO (thanks for reading so far) I am £1100 down and am about to get another large bill. Main dealer have got wind of problem as local garage have been in for parts. Not replied to my letter.

 

My plan of action is to write to them to request they refund the first bill (on the basis that their "repair" work did not give me a running car and cost me two half days work) and that they cover the cost of the repairs as well.

 

They have been negligent by:-

Leaving the hose clip undone.

Missing the damaged thermostat housing.

Missing the leaky radiator.

Not replacing the worn out tensioner.

 

Any thoughts? Am I asking too much of them? Should I only ask for refund of their work or only ask for them to cover repair bill?

 

I was going to write to them to ask them to refund and pay (not going to go in in person, I will lose my temper with them).

Give them a week to reply, then another letter giving them notice of being taken to small claims court then off to small claims.

 

I want to involve trading standards and also report them to UK car head office. At what stage should I do that? Do it first? Or do it if I get no joy? Or do it anyway?

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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You were lucky to get away with not destroying your engine when your timing belt tensioner went.

 

However, that said, the cause of all your woes comes down to just one thing---the loose radiator hose clip. This has caused your engine to overheat and as such has ruined it.

 

Coolant has been forced out because of this and coolant lying on the road does not have quite the same effect in cooling the engine as coolant circulating in the cooling system.

 

Make sure you have all your bills and some kind of evidence from your recovery service, go to the garage who failed to fit the hose clip properly, tell them you want a new engine and that you do not expect to receive a bill because it was due to their negligence that you engine has been destroyed. Do not agree to any repairs.

 

If they won't budge, threaten (and if necessary carry on with) court action.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just noticed this thread has re-appeared.

 

Below is cut and paste of letter sent. Sensitive details removed.

 

"

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended)

 

I have a Skoda Felicia Estate, registration XXXXX. I bought this car from your XXXX branch in 2004. It has been a very good car and the service at that branch has been very good up until now.

 

On the 6th December 2007 I was driving home from work when the car lost all power, the car coasted to a halt and I could not restart it.

I called the AA out and the recovery unit they sent said it looked like the timing belt had gone. They could do nothing to the car except tow me home so I got them to drop the car off at your XXXXX branch.

 

I phoned the branch the next day and explained the situation and your branch said they would see if they could sort it out.

 

They phoned that afternoon to say that the timing belt was OK but there was a problem with the timing belt adjuster. They had re-adjusted it all but the engine was still not working. They asked for my consent to remove the head to see what the problem was as they suspected the valves had hit the head.

A price of about £700 was mentioned at the time. A lot of money to me but I depend on my car for commuting so it needed doing.

I told them to carry out a service while they were repairing the engine as the car.

 

A week later the car was finished. A nasty bill of nearly £1100 but as I said I need a car.

 

I got the car back on a Wednesday. On the Thursday I did my round trip to work, 140 miles in all. The car seemed fine.

On that Friday night I drove my Girlfriend to her work Christmas party. It was a chilly night and we noted the heating in the car was coming on and off at random.

On the Saturday I checked under the bonnet. I noticed that there was nothing in the coolant reservoir. I filled it up to just short of the MAX mark. I started the engine and the fluid in the reservoir went pink. I went for a short drive onto the moors. The heater was working again; the temperature gauge was as normal and the fan cut in when I left the car running when stationary.

 

On the Monday morning I checked the coolant reservoir – it was just short of the MAX mark as I had left it.

 

So I set off to work (another 140 mile round trip).

I was about 30 miles into the journey, just past the SOMEWHERE ON THE WAY TO WORK. Without warning the temperature gauge just shot up past the top of the scale. I pulled into a car park and called the AA out.

The AA man came and had a very thorough look at the car. I told him it had just been serviced. As part of his diagnosis he checked all the water hoses and did a pressure test of the water system. There was a huge leak from the large hose that runs from the engine block to the bottom of the radiator. The clip that was supposed to be holding this pipe onto the radiator was halfway up the hose.

He put the clip where it was supposed to be and carried on trying to find the fault.

In the end he diagnosed a broken thermostat. Part of the thermostat housing was missing. He offered to tow me home but he said he could remove the thermostat and I could drive home. I went for this option as I was supposed to be going to work and needed to get home to do some work.

 

I drove back to XXXX and went straight to your XXX branch. I explained the problem to YYY XXX and gave him the broken thermostat part. I left the car there and it was dropped back the next day.

 

I went to work twice that week. The car seemed to be running a bit hotter than normal but it never went near the red. Each time I ran it I checked the coolant level and it was fine.

 

On the next Monday (the 24th – Christmas eve) I drove to work. About 6 miles from work the needle jumped into the red. I pulled into a petrol station straight away and found there was nothing in the coolant reservoir. I filled it up and waited ½ an hour. The car seemed fine; the temperature gauge was back to normal so I drove the last 6 miles to work (on the A1M at 30mph!!!).

 

I got to work and called the AA out (3rd time in 3 weeks). The AA came quickly and had a look. They said they though something was wrong with the radiator, water wasn't going to it and the fan wasn't kicking in. They could do nothing but tow me home.

 

I arrived home to find that you had sent a bill for changing the thermostat. This, along with the fact that the car had overheated twice made me decide not to return the car there for more work. So it went to MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER garage where it has finally been sorted out and it is now working perfectly.

However, whilst it was at MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER garage there were several things found: -

 

• The timing belt adjuster was worn out. Despite this apparently being the cause of the first failure this had not been changed.

• The radiator had a leak. It had been leaking for a long time; I was shown residue around the area of the leak, which I was told, meant it had been leaking for a long time. This leak was missed while a major service was carried out and while work was been carried out on the radiator area.

• The thermostat housing was broken on the inside. The AA man showed me this when the car broke down on the 17th December. This housing has to be removed to get the thermostat, why wasn't it changed? It lead to MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER garage struggling to solve the problem as they wrongly assumed you would have replaced the thermostat properly. I do not believe you properly tested the car when it was with you the 2nd time.

 

I wrote to the XXXX branch to complain about being billed for the thermostat repair, this letter has not been acknowledged.

 

In view of the fact you have been grossly negligent TWICE while trying to repair my car causing damage which had to be repaired at great expense I will not let this matter lie.

This has caused problems with my employer as I have missed work from being stuck waiting for AA men.

This has caused problems with my family and partner as I have had to borrow their cars to get to work.

 

To resolve this issue I ask that you do the following: -

 

Refund me the money I paid you for the original repair (£1061.91), Invoice H436046.

Pay me the money I paid to MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER garage to repair your shoddy work (£645.89).

 

This comes to a total of £1707.80 (One thousand seven hundred and seven pounds and eighty pence.

 

Please respond to my complaint within 7 days.

 

I enclose a copy of the invoice from MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER garage for your reference

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

heppy23

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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And here is their reply:-

 

Dear Heppy23,

 

I am sorry to hear about the problems you have had with the above vehicle, but the repairs we did were damage to valves, cylinder head and servicing, which is not the problem you have had with the water leak.

 

At the time of work, we did a pressure test, and in your own words, you ran the vehicle for 150 miles before you had any problems. The fact that you chose to take the car to MY LOCAL NON MAIN DEALER, who have changed every possible part around the water leak, is out of my control. You have not given us the opportunity to rectify this problem, if at all it was ours, and we therefore stand by our original invoice.

 

However, if you wish to discuss this with me, please do not hesitate to call me on xxxxxx

 

signed one of the directors"

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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As you can imagine I was furious with the reply but kind of expected it.

 

There are several things he has brushed aside:-

 

The hose clip (I have the AA mans report that states this was found).

 

The knackered tensioner (I still have this stashed away).

 

The broken thermostat housing (again stashed away).

 

 

 

I don't think any sane person would give a place a 3rd try to fix their car after breaking down within a week of having work done each time.

 

Also, the staff at the main dealer expressed a significant interest in my car each time the girl from my local place went in for parts.

When she told them about the hose clip and the missed broken housing they said "oh sh1t".

 

I want to reply to him (soon!).

I will repeat the specific accusations about the hose clip, the housing etc.

I will also threaten him with trading standards and getting skoda UK.

I am also waiting to hear from the "don't get done, get Dom" people.

 

Any thoughts?

 

It it helps I will donate 10% of any money I get back to the site!

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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Nice letter, Freaky Leaky will be especially pleased you removed the personal information :)

 

I would reply back re-stating the points mentioned in your first letter and overlooked in the response.

 

End the new letter "Last correspondence before court action" and if they don't give give you a satisfactory answer, do it.

 

Hammy

  • Haha 1

42 years at the pointy end of the motor trade. :eek:

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A bit of technical info...

 

In order to remove the cylinder head, they must first drain the coolant---often by removing the bottom hose clip and pulling the hose off.

 

On some engines, you need to remove the thermostat housing as well.

 

In other words, they are lying when they say they didn't touch the cooling system.

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A bit of technical info...

 

In order to remove the cylinder head, they must first drain the coolant---often by removing the bottom hose clip and pulling the hose off.

 

On some engines, you need to remove the thermostat housing as well.

 

In other words, they are lying when they say they didn't touch the cooling system.

 

Thanks for that info. I think they are banged to rights. I suppose as a commercial organisation they have to try to defend all complaints but I didn't expect to be lied to.

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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Have they indicated if there were damaged valves, and if so how many and do you have these damaged valves? What damage to the cylinder head was there to be repaired.

 

I think your asking for too much. You should be asking for payment for the bill from the second garage and compensation for the problems associated with them leaving the bottom hose unclipped. If they hadn't left this hose loose then you would not have realised that the timing belt tensioner had not in fact been changed and could have had the same damage recure.

 

Was the tensioner listed in the parts invoiced?

 

By demanding a full refund for both bills you are in fact asking for a free repair, I don't think you will get that.

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Have they indicated if there were damaged valves, and if so how many and do you have these damaged valves? What damage to the cylinder head was there to be repaired.

 

I think your asking for too much. You should be asking for payment for the bill from the second garage and compensation for the problems associated with them leaving the bottom hose unclipped. If they hadn't left this hose loose then you would not have realised that the timing belt tensioner had not in fact been changed and could have had the same damage recure.

 

Was the tensioner listed in the parts invoiced?

 

By demanding a full refund for both bills you are in fact asking for a free repair, I don't think you will get that.

 

I'll have to dig out the invoice but yes valves were damaged. Think I got charged for 8 but god knows how many got changed. Don't think the head needed anything doing with the main dealer but the local place that sorted it out had to send the head to get skimmed cos it had warped when it overheated on Christmas eve. The only parts I have are what the local place said I should keep. Main dealers tend not to show you nasty dirty engine parts.

 

I was not charged for a timing belt tensioner. The one on there was not new (so I was told by the local place. He showed me scuff marks from the belt running on it and the bearing inside it is noisy).

 

If they hadn't changed the tensioner but had done a proper job then it may have gone again. Either way it would have gone back to them. After a repair and a service I think I should get more than 200 miles out of the car.

 

The local place told me the tensioner comes as a kit with the belt and something else? They said the kit is cheaper than the parts and it's a part you might as well change while you are in there (I don't know much about cars, I am a piston ported 2 stroke man!).

 

I take your point that I may be asking too much (and thereby asking for a free repair of everything) but I think I should claim high and let them beat it down. My boss was not happy with me on Christmas eve - I was late for work and then vanished within about an hour when the AA man turned up.

What if I had lost my job over that?

 

Yes if they had done a perfect job of repairing the damage from the timing belt problem I would now have a perfect running car and be £1100 down but I am of the opinion that you shouldn't charge for shoddy work.

I would concede that maybe they should cover all the bill for the local place and refund the labour (leaving me to have paid them for just the parts) but I will have that as a fall back for if they start haggling.

Abbey (Charges on 3 accounts and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 30/03/06 - 40 days limit is 9th May - Recieved DPA printouts 05/04/06 with microfiche "fob off" letter. <p>Barclaycard (Charges on 1 account and default on my credit record) - DPA letter sent 03/04/06 - 40 days limit is 13th May - Recieved some statements 08/04/06 along with DPA printout and a microfiche "fob off" letter. Claim for £340 sent 11/04/06

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Belts can come seperately or as a kit, the kit will consist of all the parts the belt runs on, usually waterpump idler and tensioner.

 

I am all for haggling (I don't think we do enough of it in this country), and maybe starting high would get them to make an offer, I hope you get a sensible one.

 

Any parts changed always remain your property, so always ask for their return (except maybe an oil filter)

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