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Used Fiat Punto Mia MK2 - not fit for purpose


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Hello there,

 

I am currently a student and I bought a 2001 Fiat Punto Mia (MK2) with 74K miles on the clock from a trader to get me from my place of work whilst on placement, it cost me £620.

 

The difficulty I am in is that the dealer in question sold me it from his private residence, however, he told me throughout the viewing of the said car that he was a trader, and that he occasionally brought vehicles back to his residence to sell, he had even filed out the registration documents as a trader.

 

5 weeks after buying said vehicle the car has developed what looks like a serious fault, in that the cylinder head gasket has possibly been banjaxed. I was driving home from work yesterday, and the temperature warning light came on. I pulled to the side of the road, and opened the bonnet to check the water level of the cooling system. There was an acceptable amount of water in the filling point, I topped it up anyways, and revved the engine to get any air pockets out, and then topped it up again. However, whilst driving it the rest of the way home, I soon found the temperature warning light on again.

 

At home I plugged an OBT2 diagnostics adapter into the car and revved it up again, the thermostat opened and the radiator's fan started spinning, however the temperature kept climbing (up to around 120 degrees c), the warning light ignited again, I was getting no heat out of the internal heating fans, and the heating pipes running into the radiator were still cool, even though the thermostat was open, the water in the filling point was also bubbling and coming back out due to back pressure, I even got out of the car and used a laser temperature gauge on the engine bay, and it was reading 117 degrees c, the car had also lost a bit more water prior to my parking the car in the driveway.

 

I was under the impression I had bought it off a dealer, so I phoned him and told him the problem and asked him to either take it back or repair it. He refused, stating that he was a private seller and that he had sold it as such, and due to the car being over 6 years old I had no warranty. I told him that he had told me he was a trader and had filled out the registration documents as such, but he was having none of it. I couldn't do any more about it at that point over the phone, so I told him he would be hearing from me again, and he then hung up the phone.

 

I then googled his mobile number on facebook, and lo and behold I found the business that he trades under, further googling got me the address of the said business, which I have recorded. I then phoned the DVLA to ascertain whether the previous owner of the vehicle was the dealer in question, they confirmed this, I asked them whether the car had been owned by a trader prior to my registering it in my name, they said yes, but they couldn't give me the name, I then asked them was it under the trade name I had found, they said yes, so as far as myself and the DVLA are concerned I bought the car from a dealer. Therefore I can assume I'm covered by the trader's section of the sales of goods act.

 

Further googling also showed me previous adverts the seller had been posting on the likes of gumtree, I even have a cached copy of the advert for the car I now own.

 

I then contacted the consumer advice line, needless to say they weren't very pleasant, and the person I was talking to basically told me that their main concern was that the trader I had bought from was trying to pass himself off as a private seller, and that if I wanted to get compensation from the likes of a small claims court, I should've bought a more expensive newer car (bit impossible considering I'm a student).

 

Considering what I have said above, could anyone please tell me what my options are in this case?

 

Cheers,

 

Splat.

Edited by Mr Splat
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First up is the engine still working or has it siezed? as I'm not sure from your post (not quite sure that "banjaxed" is technically clear) theroetically the proble could be somthnig relativly simple to resolve so rejecting the car without giving the seller fair chance to repair it would not be a good start

 

Since as it sounds you have fair reason to belive that the seller was a trader first i would stop using the car if you have not already, write a letter to them infoming them that there is a fault with the car and they are required to resolve the problem within a fair period of time.

 

Then if you hear nothing your next step would be you will need to formally reject the vehicle, write a letter to them inform them that you reject the car, and that you require a full refund.

 

Then after that crack on with small claims.

 

since you have checked over the car including a diognostics kit whats you view of the problem?

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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I'm just getting my options clear for the worst case scenario, I phoned the dealer and asked him if he would repair it or take it back, I gave him both options, I didn't actually say anything to him about going to small claims. I've now removed the thermostat and I am just using some silicon sealant to seal the thermostat's housing back onto the engine (obviously re attaching the bolts as well), and then run the car to see if the problem still persists. If that doesn't give me any improvements I will take it to a garage and get them to run compression tests on the cylinder heads, and only if the head gasket is confirmed to be broken I'll write to the dealer.

 

My view of the problem is that the most likely suspect is the head gasket going by what I've been reading, the engine actually seemed to be behaving fine up until it starts heating up, the radiator fan etc kicks in etc.

 

I know that will be necessary owing to the way the dealer tried to fob me off over the phone.

 

Just for your information, banjaxed is just short slang for something being seriously broken.

 

Thanks.

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Had the thermostat out for 10 minutes with the engine running, water is still coming back up out of the filler bottle with the cooling system pressurising so I think I can now safely say the thermostat is not the problem leaving the head gasket being the most likely culprit.

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It does sound more headgasket then, i would suggest the letter route then to save, shame as a thermostat would have been £15 ish,

 

Thanks for the translation, i had to google it....

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Just as an aside the puntos are NOT prone to headgasket issues or even simpler to fix is a faulty thermostat.

 

Fixed that for you.

 

Speaking as a fully fledged Fiat owner and having worked in after sales at a main dealer, I can safely say that they are no more prone to failure than any other car. I currently have a MK2 Punto (HGT version) on a W plate (2000) with 75k on the clock and it runs like it's half the age that it is. I would say that if the mileage is genuine, then £620 isn't a bad price (especially if it's a higher spec model) for the car.

 

So now we've cleared that up, lets move on to the solution to the problem. I actually concur with Ssparks advice in post #2. It's clear that the seller is a trader so all you can do is consider your options (which both will no doubt end up in court). You can either write to the seller (no point phoning any more) and give him the opportunity to rectify saying that if he dosn't, you will get the job done yourself and pursue him for the cost (this would be my preferred option considering how much you paid for the car and assuming there isn't any other issues), or formally reject the car (again, if he dosn't or isn't prepared to rectify)

 

Either way I think that the seller is a wrong 'un and will play the system. Make sure you make him fully aware that as far as you are concerned, he is NOT a private seller.

 

Send all your letters by recorded delivery and keep copies. Please keep us posted.

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.

 

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Fixed that for you.

 

Speaking as a fully fledged Fiat owner and having worked in after sales at a main dealer, I can safely say that they are no more prone to failure than any other car. I currently have a MK2 Punto (HGT version) on a W plate (2000) with 75k on the clock and it runs like it's half the age that it is. I would say that if the mileage is genuine, then £620 isn't a bad price (especially if it's a higher spec model) for the car.

 

So now we've cleared that up, lets move on to the solution to the problem. I actually concur with Ssparks advice in post #2. It's clear that the seller is a trader so all you can do is consider your options (which both will no doubt end up in court). You can either write to the seller (no point phoning any more) and give him the opportunity to rectify saying that if he dosn't, you will get the job done yourself and pursue him for the cost (this would be my preferred option considering how much you paid for the car and assuming there isn't any other issues), or formally reject the car (again, if he dosn't or isn't prepared to rectify)

 

Either way I think that the seller is a wrong 'un and will play the system. Make sure you make him fully aware that as far as you are concerned, he is NOT a private seller.

 

Send all your letters by recorded delivery and keep copies. Please keep us posted.

 

Letter's written. Got to post it after work, I've just spelt out to him what I'd like to do, then I've basically given him an ultimatum, 14 days then I go to court, I've got all the evidence I can find to prove he is a trader, including cached copies of advert's he's previously posted.

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Just to add to my previous posts, I had a witness with whilst we did the deal, the witness was my mum, so I don't know how a court would look at that, however if needs be I can get her to confirm that when I bought the car, the bloke I got it from was Presenting himself as a trader.

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Hello there,

I then contacted the consumer advice line, needless to say they weren't very pleasant, and the person I was talking to basically told me that their main concern was that the trader I had bought from was trying to pass himself off as a private seller, and that if I wanted to get compensation from the likes of a small claims court, I should've bought a more expensive newer car (bit impossible considering I'm a student).

 

Considering what I have said above, could anyone please tell me what my options are in this case?

 

Cheers,

 

Splat.

 

Go up the chain as high as possible in Consumer Advice and file an official complaint due to totally irrelevant and unhelpful advice given by a Consumer organisation appointed by the government to help you. Also get your MP involved as this is totally unacceptable behaviour from the people who are supposed to be helping you.

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Go up the chain as high as possible in Consumer Advice and file an official complaint due to totally irrelevant and unhelpful advice given by a Consumer organisation appointed by the government to help you. Also get your MP involved as this is totally unacceptable behaviour from the people who are supposed to be helping you.

 

I've been considering doing just that, I don't know how far I can go though as I didn't write the advisor's name down. Though I suppose that they'll have that call logged under the details I gave them.

 

As far as I was concerned She didn't understand the letter of the law written in the sale of goods act, and that regardless of the vehicle's age and price, barring small problems such as a dodgy thermostat it's totally unreasonable to expect me to take my car's head gasket failing after 5 weeks on the chin, having been told it was of a perfectly roadworthy condition. Regardless of the price I paid for it.

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Just an update, I have sent the first letter off by first class recorded delivery, giving them 7 days to contact me in regards to taking my vehicle back and offering a full refund. If I fail to receive a reply, I will send another letter giving them another 7 days but warning them if I don't hear from them at the end of that time period that I'll be going through the small claims court and probably contacting the trading standards authority as well.

 

Splat.

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