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Bought a car..multiple faults, dead engine 2 months later!


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I bought a car on March 4th 2013 from a car dealer who trades from home. I paid £1700 for the car (2002 Focus ST170). It was up for £1995, i knocked him down to £1700.

When i took the car for a test drive there was a random light on the dash, the dealer said it was the traction control. I trusted him, as he obviously knew about the car...or so i thought.

This light turned itself off a day later. So i wasn't too concerned. It turns out it was a coolant warning light. It never returned after about 3 days of having the car.

 

Within a week the Engine Management Light came on, i bought a OBD2 scanner to see what the issue was. It picked up 2 codes, one for a Lambda sensor (£100 not fitted), and one for a dodgy CAT (£600) i assume the CAT fault shows because of the sensor.

 

I thought this wasnt a major problem, so bought a sensor off of a friend, but didnt fit it as i never had the time. I thought changing the sensor would clear both codes, i dont know though? It is something i could do, so i wasn't too worried, minor fault in my eyes.

 

Things kept going wrong, the passenger door wouldn't open from the outside, the rear window washer sprayed water into the car not the window, the washer reservoir empties itself after a day or so.

 

Then, on 7th May i was driving home and the engine died. I got the car towed home by Green Flag. I plugged the scanner in and it revealed a timing issue (P1383)...or so i thought.

I got the timing belt cover off to discover the belt was missing most of the teeth. This has probably trashed the engine as the valves would have hit the pistons.

 

I specifically asked the guy if the belt was changed, to which he replied, yea i think it was. Its a £500 job to do as its a weird engine, and there is no room, the engine needs lifting out pretty much to change it.

 

What can i do? Ive done less than 1000 miles since having it, and now it is destined for the scrap yard. I will be £1700 out of pocket! Im very frustrated, i cant afford to lose that sort of money. I can sell it for spares or repairs for....£500! But i don't think this is right given what i paid for it. £200 car, yea fair enough, you expect problems.

 

Am i right in assuming he, as a dealer has to provide a 3 month warranty? He is on holiday until 20th May. I tried ringing him and there was a message explaining this. He has pulled his website, im not sure because he is on holiday, or for other reasons.

 

What are my rights? Can i get my money back as it was not fit for purpose? It can be repaired but will cost over £1000 to have it done. Is he responsible for this?

 

Should a £1700 car last longer than 2 months before the engine fails, the CAT fails....i believe the engine light was turned off prior to me looking at the car. Im sure this can be proved with the right equipment, but its costly.

 

Im really angry with the guy!

Edited by EssexRob
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Hi and welcome to CAG.

 

I don't see anywhere in your account where you say that the issues have been reported to the seller. If the seller is a trader then you have certainly protection under the SOGA but you have responsibilities too. You say you purchased the car on March 4th and the latest incident occurred on May 7th, exactly 2 months on. Within a week you detected a lamber sensor and "dodgy cat" problem which ARE significant faults as your costings confirm.

 

The SOGA says that any fault which develops within the first 6 months of ownership is assumed to be present at the point of sale and it is for the seller to prove otherwise. BUT in the event of a fault, the seller should be given reasonable opportunity to inspect the car and rectify where necessary. There is no obligation for a used car to have any warranty as you have statutory rights under the SOGA.

 

Basically you should of reported the problems when they became apparent to the seller, backed up in writing if necessary. The only advice I can offer is for you to attempt to leave a message for the seller ASAP on his voice mail (if he has one) and/or email him. Then you should write a formal letter listing the problems but omit stating that they started to appear 2 months ago. Highlight the latest problem with the timing belt and of course indicate the date for that because it resulted in a breakdown. Request that the seller recovers the car to inspect and rectify at no expense to you under the SOGA with a response in 7 working days and send by recorded delivery. The fact he is on holiday isn't your problem.

 

Come back and let us know if/when you get a response.

 

Please Note

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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Is there some sort of template letter i can send to him? Im not very good at writing letters.

 

I will send him a letter so he can read it when he gets back, i will also ring him on the 20th to confirm he got the letter and understands his duties.

 

Like i said, the o2 sensor didnt seem like a major problem, the CAT on the other hand would be as that is very expensive. I could get a cheaper one, but it wouldnt be the same as the original which is a sports cat.

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14-05-13

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

 

Without prejudice

 

Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended)

 

Re: Ford Focus ST170 Reg: REG **

PURCHASE DATE: 04-03-13

 

The above mentioned vehicle (Focus ST170, registration number **) is, as of the date of this letter, the subject of a claim against (dealer name) under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).

 

It is claimed that the vehicle, when purchased from (Dealer name), had a

Engine problem that have since caused catastrophic failure to the engine.

Faulty o2 sensor, faulty catalytic converter, faulty lock in passenger door, rear window washer sprays water into the car, leaking window washer reservoir.

 

 

Your responsibilities

I would draw your attention to the Office of Fair Trading guidance for car dealers and to the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).

 

Under the terms of this act, the claimant may request a repair or replacement of any vehicle that is considered defective at the time of purchase. If, for any reason, a repair is not possible, then the law states that the claimant is entitled to a full refund, less any part exchange allowance (if applicable). If a part exchanged vehicle has been sold on or disposed of, then the claimant is also entitled to claim the full value of this vehicle.

 

If a claim is made during the first six (6) months after purchase, and a resolution cannot be sought out of court, then it is the responsibility of the seller to prove that the vehicle was in no way defective at the point that it was sold to the claimant (Reversed Burden of Proof).

 

What I require

I require you to respond within 7 days of the date of this letter (as postmark). You must provide a clear indication of how you would like to proceed with this claim.

 

The vehicle is currently located at MY ADDRESS. Under the terms of the Act, you are fully entitled to view the vehicle (at your own expense), but you must inform me in writing beforehand so that arrangements can be made.

 

At present, the engine remains within the car and any additional diagnostic work or repair would fall within your responsibility under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).

 

Once an agreement has been reached to the points contained within this letter, you are entitled to the return of the vehicle to your business premises (at your own expense).

 

My targets to resolve this matter

I hope that you will enter into a sincere dialogue about this matter and I am writing this letter to you on the assumption that you will prefer to do this rather than the need for further action to be taken.

 

I am claiming either a repair to this vehicle (to the manufacturers’ standards) or a full refund.

 

I will give you ten (10) days to reply to me accepting, unconditionally, my request in principle and advising me of a date by which I will receive payment or a schedule for the repair.

 

If you do not respond, or you do not respond positively within this time period, I shall send you a letter that will outline my intention to recover the full amount plus, costs and compensation through the Courts.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

MY NAME

 

 

 

 

I am sending this to him tomorrow, he gets back of holiday on the 20th...so i gave 10 days from the date of the letter.

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Letter seems ok to me. Please let us know what happens after the 10 days expires or if you get a response earlier.

 

Please Note

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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the lambda sensor is in the exhaust along with the cat, so possibly related fault. If the cambelt has broken the engine will be beyond economical repair

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the lambda sensor is in the exhaust along with the cat, so possibly related fault. If the cambelt has broken the engine will be beyond economical repair

 

Yea i agree, the Lambda sensor is the first sensor on the CAT, there is another one at the end to test emissions after they pass through. It has a P0133 and P0420, first one is the sensor, second is the CAT, thats what makes/made me think by replacing the sensor it would solve both fault codes.

 

The cambelt isnt broken, its just lost multiple teeth. Green flag recovery insisted on trying to start the car, for 5 minutes straight, even though i told him there was a code relating the the timing (P1383)...his little scanner machine wouldnt pick it up, so he ignored what i told him. Chances are, if the engine was alright before, it was wrecked by the time he had finished turning it over. My cheap £35 OBD2 scanner picked up the fault code (earlier before he arrived), his expensive one missed it, so he ignored what i had told him and carried on trying to start it with a booster pack attached to the battery. When i got back with the car, i plugged my scanner in again, and it revealed the code relating to the timing for a second time. I have no idea why his expensive scanner missed it...i have no idea why he ignored what i told him either.

 

Does anyone know about ChargeBacks on debit cards? I paid £1000 on a debit card, and the rest in cash. If he messes me about would this be a viable option? Is it a complicated process? I know if i had used a credit card i could have done a "section 75" on the balance, but i dont use them...i was reading that Visa Debit cards offer some protection, in the form of chargebacks but can find little on it online. Some say maximum is £100 others say there is no upper limit.

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I bought a faulty turbo online with a credit card, they said I'd broken it and wouldn't give me my money back. I contacted the card co and they refunded the money.

 

I would have thought you could have a claim against the breakdown company? has it bent the valves , you should be able to tell as the engine will crank faster than normal

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I bought a faulty turbo online with a credit card, they said I'd broken it and wouldn't give me my money back. I contacted the card co and they refunded the money.

 

I would have thought you could have a claim against the breakdown company? has it bent the valves , you should be able to tell as the engine will crank faster than normal

 

I cant tell but im sure it has, the engines in these ST170's are very sensitive to timing, when he was turning it over, it sounded like there was a bunch of hammers in the engine. To change the belt is £475+VAT so i havent bothered having it done to check...expensive way to check for damage i think. Im pretty sure the valves are well and truly bent, i could have a look in the head, by just taking the plugs out, i would see either bits of them, damage to the pistons or fluids in there. Ive not bothered as im 99.9% sure they are bent given that the car lost power at about 40mph, i had to limp it about half a mile to a safe place to pull over...then the relentless Green Flag guy trying to start it.

 

I think debit cards work slightly different but there is cover. I will look into that if the guy refuses to refund or repair the car. I wont tell him, otherwise he could empty his account...unlike credit cards that are insured as far as i know, they probably charge back the customer if they can, or take it on the chin as most dont know about it.

 

3 more days until he is back, hopefully when i call him he will have received the letter and thought about his options. If he chooses to do nothing il get the car inspected, make sure the engine light wasnt turned off before i turned up, or before the MOT. If the CAT is faulty then the MOT station has some explaining to. He drives 40 miles to have cars MOT'd which i find a bit odd as there are no shortage of MOT stations a lot closer.

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Yes, you can do a chargeback on Visa debit cards. Most bank staff will tell you that it's not possible---even the managers. So dig your heels in and if bank won't help then apply to Visa direct. You will be required to furnish them with FULL details of claim. The £100 bit is the minimum amount on the card before they will act.

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The £100 bit is the minimum amount on the card before they will act.

 

I understand the £100.oo bit is for Credit Cards. I currently have a claim going through Visa Debit for an amount of less than £100.00.

PUTTING IT IN WRITING & KEEPING COPIES IS A MUST FOR SUCCESS

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I cant tell but im sure it has, the engines in these ST170's are very sensitive to timing, when he was turning it over, it sounded like there was a bunch of hammers in the engine.

 

Name a car which isn't 'very sensitive to timing'.

 

I'm a little concerned that the o/p is using a scanner for diagnostics, when a tow home, and a visible check has already confirmed something potentially fatal with the engine timing.

 

Add to that a casual dismissal of a warning light on the first trip out, (coolant warnings also being somewhat important to longevity), accusing the recovery company of negligence, despite the car already stuck at the roadside, and then suggesting moody testing by an MOT station that had the vehicle through it's books, not knowing a quick 40 mile run beforehand is good prep for an emissions pass.

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Name a car which isn't 'very sensitive to timing'.

 

I'm a little concerned that the o/p is using a scanner for diagnostics, when a tow home, and a visible check has already confirmed something potentially fatal with the engine timing.

 

Add to that a casual dismissal of a warning light on the first trip out, (coolant warnings also being somewhat important to longevity), accusing the recovery company of negligence, despite the car already stuck at the roadside, and then suggesting moody testing by an MOT station that had the vehicle through it's books, not knowing a quick 40 mile run beforehand is good prep for an emissions pass.

 

ST170 has VCT, which is more sensitive than a standard engine...if even a fraction out, the car will backfire or not run.

 

The Green Flag scanner never found a fault, my one did. I made the guy aware, he ignored me. When the car stopped, i had no idea of the problem...until i plugged the scanner in the following day. The tow home was because the Green Flag guy COULDN'T diagnose a fault (day after breakdown, GF policy was another car, had to swap it over and had a BBQ that evening when i walked home from the car) ! A visual check was made AFTER the tow home, he never looked at the belt...i dont get your point? Had the Green Flag guy actually checked the information i had given him, ie, the code number and suggested problem i would't be accusing them of negligence. He didnt check the belt, nothing! Just put a booster pack on the battery and tried turning it over. When that didn't work he said he would have to tow it. If the engine wasn't damaged beyond economical repair prior to Green Flag attending, it sure was afterwards. If there is a problem with the timing belt, the car should NOT be turned over...as it WILL cause damage to the engine. If the belt had slipped a couple of teeth the timing would be out enough for it not so start, as like i say, VCT engines are VERY sensitive to timing unlike normal cars that will still run, but be stuttering....by turning it over he COULD have stripped the other teeth, thus causing major damage to the pistons and valves.

 

Why are you concerned that i used an OBD2 scanner to try and find the fault? Scanner cost £35, cost to have a diagnostic check £40, thats £40 a go, so if the light came on again, id have to pay another £40 to be told what was wrong.

 

I didnt know it was a coolant warning light, i was told it was the traction control by the dealer. It went away, and came back intermittently. I bought the scanner to see if it would find this, but it didn't. When the engine warning light came on i plugged in my scanner and found the faults, sensor and CAT. The timing fault only came on after the car had died at the side of the road. Once again...whats the point you are trying to make?

 

A good prep for an emission pass? It doesn't require 40 miles for the CAT to warm up to operating temp otherwise when i took my old car for an MOT not 2 miles from home it would have failed.

Edited by EssexRob
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A long journey at reasonable speed (few stop starts) will clear soot soot out of a catalytic converter, and often free off obstructions , water vapour or corrosion near an oxygen sensor, a two mile journey will not. In a diesel engine the term 'regeneration cycle' is used but it does virtually the same by reducing or clearing dpf issues.

 

You have already confirmed the car was not running well when you stopped, which is why you stopped. Spinning the engine an hour or so later would have made no difference if the teeth of the belt had already jumped on one of the cogs. I doubt very much this is the case though.

 

VCT is not more sensitive to the position of the crank, and unless you have different camshafts to standard, or skimmed the head, or are running higher compression pistons they will not touch unless you are quite a few degrees out (the engine won't run at all in this instance).

 

The phaser governing the camshaft rotation does however require resetting (letting out some oil) for timing marks to line up, this is not something that can be done by the roadside unless you know this engine back to front, have slackened off the tensioner (and use of a timing pin to get the valve train aligned first) .

 

It may be that your scanner throws up numbers because the phaser has not been reset, rather than the t marks being out The phaser can also be thrown out by contaminated engine oil, but hydraulic tappets suffer from the same. It might be that everything you have with the sensor and cat stem from dirty oil, or oil that is not of the type recommended for the engine.

 

There were other instructions within the Ford Service sheet regarding settings for (four ?) VCT modes and how diagnostic scanners interpret them, but it was a long time ago.

 

Read all posts withing the thirteen pages of the following link before you post again, it will help you understand how the engine works, the importance of the cam settings, and how even mechanics at the factory can get it wrong.

 

http://forums.focaljet.com/ford-svt-focus-headquarters/652671-p1381-p1383-fix-important-timing-belt-info.html

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SOGA...I am in a similar position bought a fluless fire within 2mnths my room went YELLOW and a mean a real mucky yellow. They tested it for Cm and all clear with the corgi man.

 

Co sent me a letter telling me it was my fault due to scented candels (which I dont use) also said iit was due to smoking. yes there is a smoker in the house. But he would need to smoke 2000 cigs a week. Website doesnt say fires only for non smokers. Basically theyre telling me its my fault. I took photos and the MD admitted not to use it. I was coughing all the time fire was on. I made corgi man disconect fire..since no coughing.

 

Ive reported it to Trading Standards as they advertise the fire does not cause walls to stain...oH YES IT DOES. But nobody seems to respond. Raised a chargeback with bank...no response with them. Just left in Limbo....should I just send the fire back?

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Thank you for all the detail in this post. The engine oil was clear when i checked it, so i assume it was changed pretty recently. Surely the code would have shown the very first time i had used the scanner if the fault was there prior to breaking down. Had the belt slipped a couple of teeth the chances of damage would have to be smaller than if it slipped (turning the cams) and shredded another 15 teeth. Maybe it just slipped and didnt turn the crank, i dont know...this is something that needs to be looked at. I will, if i have to pay for a full report on the vehicle to find all problems including engine damage.

 

Hopefully then, the issue is not too expensive to fix. Id rather the car was repaired as i dont really want the hassle of having to look for another one, and the car is a very nice car (to me anyway, some may not like them)

 

Thanks for taking the time to explain the engine and bits

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Just got a letter, and tried ringing.

The guy has disolved his company, sold his house, and retired abroad. The "il be back on the 20th" was a load of lies, he is now living it up in Spain.

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A follow up to the "sold a car 2 months ago now its dead" thread i made about a week ago.

 

I sent a letter claiming a repair or refund, today i got a reply:

 

To whom it may concern

 

Be advised that due to the overseas retirement of the companies director RPM autosales has now ceased trading. The company was voluntarily dissolved and has been removed by companies house from the register of trading.

 

The companies trading premises in Chelmsford has since been sold and vacted..........

 

 

Thats it....thats what i got....what can i do??? Can i still do a chargeback on my debit card????? Ive been scammed, and i would imagine others have to!!!

 

His answerphone when i rang when the car broke said "hi, im not here right now im on holiday until the 20th, please give me a call back then"....he was a [EDIT] it seems...biding his time.

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No problem Honeybee :)

Il see if i can do a chargeback, il be contacting trading standards just for the heck of it, doubt there is much they can do now he has skipped the country. Looks like im £2000 out of pocket :( oh well, live and learn....just hoping the bank can do something, VISA even as it was a debit card i used to pay some of it. We shall see, il keep this updated as and when i know anything more.

 

Any advice on chargeback would be greatly appreciated.

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If they have completely ceased trading, it's a little odd that they have bothered to reply don't you think? I think I would be doing a bit more digging. I think I would still issue proceedings as well unless you are successful with the charge back.

 

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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If they have completely ceased trading, it's a little odd that they have bothered to reply don't you think? I think I would be doing a bit more digging. I think I would still issue proceedings as well unless you are successful with the charge back.

 

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

 

Yea it is odd, but i checked and the house is sold, and his company was dissolved on 19th April 2013.

Im going to try the chargeback tomorrow, if they say they cannot do anything i may well go pay his "sold" property a visit to see if he is in the process of moving. Its only a few miles up the road to me.

I suspect he may have been there over the weekend, as the writing on the envelope looks like the writing on the other documents he gave me when he sold me the car.

Im going to have the car repaired as it looks like hes pulled a fast one, i need a car.

 

Is there anyway of finding out the name of directors for companies?? I havent got his name, id like to do some digging on him, maybe i can find him if he is lying about moving abroad

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Ive found his full name, possibly his facebook too, though this is locked down and i cant see anything apart from a profile picture and a couple of links he posted to his wall last year.

 

I dont believe he has moved abroad, i think he is saying this to put me off his scent.

 

His company has been dissolved, so, can i go after him for the money? Should i report him to anyone, police, trading standards??

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