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£3500 fault after 4.5 months ***Resolved***


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On March the 8th I bought a used 2003 Audi with 90k miles on the clock for £7500 with £5000 on finance. I've had a couple of issues in the past 4.5 months but being a reasonable chap they were nothing I wouldn't expect in an 11 year old car with 90k miles.

 

However on Thursday it developed a rattle which my mechanic has diagnosed as timing tensioner failure. If this is not fixed it will lead to catastrophic engine failure.

 

The timing system is supposed to last the life of the engine but clearly it has failed long before it's time. My mechanic has advised that to remedy the fault will be around £3500 and the engine needs to come out.

 

I think I have a claim here but is it with the dealer or the finance company?

 

Thanks!

Edited by chipsto
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On the basis of what you say, yes you do have a claim. Both the dealer and the finance company are responsible and you may as well involve both.

 

Be careful with the dealer because we tend to find that many dealers of second-hand cars and up trying to do some kind of botch up or quick fix and it just leads to further problems.

 

Make sure that you keep everything in writing and get expert opinions from independent sources.

 

The other thing you need to be aware of is that now you know of the problem, you have your own duty not to make it worse by continuing to drive the vehicle. This would give an opportunity to any dealer to start arguing about liability because they would say that you have contributed to the problem.

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Hi BankFodder, thanks for your reply. Regarding keeping everything in writing, is email an acceptable form of correspondence in the legal sense? Obviously if I do not get a reply I will have to resort to recorded delivery mail.

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I'm not quite sure how to get all this started. I've written this email while I await a final cost and time estimate from my local indy Audi garage. Is this the right way to get things going? Should I copy the finance company in at this point or wait until the dealer inevitably refuses to help me out?

 

Dear ******,

 

On March the 8th this year I bought from you a used Audi with the registration **** ***. I've had a number of problems with the car since I bought it including the discovery of a botched wiring job that caused the car to run terribly, a failed alternator and an oil leak. In total the repairs have cost well over £1000 and kept the car off the road for nearly 6 weeks. Unfortunately the majority and most expensive of these issues occurred after the 3 month warranty had expired.

 

However, the reason I am writing is because of the latest problem that has occurred. I was happy to finally have the car running properly again but a few days after collecting it from my local independent Audi garage it started making a very loud rattling noise on cold and warm starts.

 

I took it back to the garage who have diagnosed the problem as being worn or broken timing chain tensioners, guides and possibly the chain adjusters. These components are supposed to last the lifetime of the engine. As I understand it these components can wear if the car has been serviced with the wrong oil or a cheap alternative to the manufacturers recommendation. He advised that to make the repairs will require the engine to be removed from the vehicle and that if I keep driving it with this issue then there is a strong possibility that the timing chains will fail. If this happens it will cause catastrophic engine failure and it may be uneconomical to repair the car due to the cost of a replacement engine.

 

So as you can see I am in a difficult position. The car I bought from you is once again off the road for an undetermined amount of time and I am facing a repair cost of £3500 on top of the repairs I have already paid for. At this point my confidence in the car is completely gone. It is unreliable and most definitely not fit for purpose.

 

I'm writing to you to ask what you would offer to do to help my situation. Having had the car for just over 20 weeks I believe my options are still fairly open with regard to consumer rights. However, I would rather not go down this path if at all possible.

 

I await your reply.

 

Regards,

 

****** ******

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You seem to be approaching this very sensibly and there are some key facts you need to know and from your post you also seem to understand this.

 

Most major car parts are rated to 10 years or 150,000 miles. An exception to this would be common rail diesel engines fuel systems and turbo chargers which are rated to 100K miles.

 

The timing chains are part of a major component so therefore will be rated to 150K. It would be within the dealers rights to ask for a contribution based on the amount you have been deprived from it's design life so in this case 2/3rds. You could argue though about the previous repairs carried out but you would have to supply evidence that you gave them the opportunity to repair.

 

It would help if you could state the actual mileage covered since the purchase and exactly what Audi is as it might be that subject to service history, this is a known issue that VAG accept some responsibility for. £7.5K for an 11 year old Audi with 90Kmiles on it does seem a high price to pay.

 

As Bankfodder points out though and as you have been advised, continued use could be detrimental to any claim on anyone so proceed with caution.

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Thanks heliosuk. That's some useful information.

 

I stopped using the car as soon as I got back from the mechanic. The only time it will move is if it's going back to the dealer or going to get repaired. Unfortunately I did not give the dealer any opportunity to fix the previous issues. In my opinion when you buy a used car, realistically you should expect some minor issues but this problem is definitely not minor.

 

It's an Audi S4 Avant, 2003 with manual transmission. I've covered roughly 5000 miles since purchase and it has a full service history, but not all of it from Audi. I believe I paid market rate for it and the insurance company offered to cover it for £8000.

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Have you informed the finance company

i myself will be considering rejecting the vehicle, as not fit for the purpose it was intended for

 

First thing is contact the dealer and see what they say, you have six months from purchase for the law to consider the fault was there when you purchased the goods

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Chipsto,

 

Have you researched the S4 engine to see if there is an inerrant issue with it? I don't recall there being one and seem to remember it is a belt driven one anyway. However when I was last involved with this make the S4 had only just come out and even then a belt change was a nightmare anyway.

 

Something makes me think you might have a bit of a struggle with this one as it's an S4. Great car though and better than an M3 though like for like would be the RS4.

 

Can you confirm it is an S4 and not an A4 with an S pack?

 

This would be relevant if any technicalities were raised in terms of durability of original components and if the fault existed at the point of sale.

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To answer your direct question, if it is hire purchase, then the responsibility is with the finance company.

It is they who should arrange for the seller to get it sorted but you can copy any letters to the finance company to the seller.

 

If you make your complaint to the finance company and things aren't settled, you can escalate that complaint to the FOS but you can't do that if you make the complaint against the dealer.

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Chipsto,

 

Have you researched the S4 engine to see if there is an inerrant issue with it? I don't recall there being one and seem to remember it is a belt driven one anyway. However when I was last involved with this make the S4 had only just come out and even then a belt change was a nightmare anyway.

 

Something makes me think you might have a bit of a struggle with this one as it's an S4. Great car though and better than an M3 though like for like would be the RS4.

 

Can you confirm it is an S4 and not an A4 with an S pack?

 

This would be relevant if any technicalities were raised in terms of durability of original components and if the fault existed at the point of sale.

 

Since this fault has occurred I have read up on it. The engine uses a timing chain (actually 4 of them) which are at the rear of the engine. The timing chain system was designed to last the life of the engine however Audi screwed up and the tolerances in the materials are too wide. Sometimes the metals are too soft and the plastics are too brittle. Based on this information it seems obvious that this issue existed at the time of sale.

 

Some of these cars go on forever and some cars end up having problems with the timing system. It seems to be one of these problems that is blown out of all proportion on the internet and actually not that many cars have issues.

 

It's definitely an S4. It's the 4.2 litre V8, 340bhp. Pretty much the Audi equivalent to the M3. An RS4 would be about 2 to 3 times as much to buy and maintain.

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To answer your direct question, if it is hire purchase, then the responsibility is with the finance company.

It is they who should arrange for the seller to get it sorted but you can copy any letters to the finance company to the seller.

 

If you make your complaint to the finance company and things aren't settled, you can escalate that complaint to the FOS but you can't do that if you make the complaint against the dealer.

 

Thank Coniff. I haven't had a reply to the email I sent to the dealer last week so I'll contact the finance company.

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Read 9.6 in the link.

 

http://www.shetland.gov.uk/tradingstandards/documents/Guidanceforsecondhandcardealers.pdf

 

Since this fault has occurred I have read up on it. The engine uses a timing chain (actually 4 of them) which are at the rear of the engine. The timing chain system was designed to last the life of the engine however Audi screwed up and the tolerances in the materials are too wide. Sometimes the metals are too soft and the plastics are too brittle. Based on this information it seems obvious that this issue existed at the time of sale.

 

Some of these cars go on forever and some cars end up having problems with the timing system. It seems to be one of these problems that is blown out of all proportion on the internet and actually not that many cars have issues.

 

It's definitely an S4. It's the 4.2 litre V8, 340bhp. Pretty much the Audi equivalent to the M3. An RS4 would be about 2 to 3 times as much to buy and maintain.

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Any updates ??

 

Trading Standards tells it how it is:

 

Who is responsible when goods are faulty?

 

 

HIRE PURCHASE

This type of credit is commonly used to fund the purchase of vehicles. When you agree to buy a car on hire purchase, the garage sells the car to the creditor (finance company) which, in turn, hires the car to you with an option to purchase. The creditor owns the car and ownership does not pass to you until the last payment has been made. During this time, you cannot sell the vehicle without the creditor's permission as you are not the legal owner.

 

 

Your contract is with the creditor and not the supplier of the goods. It is, therefore, the creditor that has a contractual responsibility to you if the item is faulty. If you have a complaint, your letter should be sent to the creditor, with a copy to the supplier.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi folks, sorry for the delay in replying this thread, but there wasn't much to reply about. I have just had a significant update from the finance company which I am a little unsure about;

 

-----

Please find below response from ****** regarding your complaint. I suggest you go for option 1 and let the supplying dealer diagnose and remedy the faults. We will pay to get the vehicle collected from you and be delivered to the supplying dealer.

 

If you could let me know if you agree with this so I can arrange to get the vehicle collected.

-----

 

-----

I have met with the dealer today to try and resolve this issue.

 

At no stage since delivery has the customer been in contact with the garage highlighting any faults.

 

The dealers 3 month warranty has now expired.

 

However the dealer is willing as a good will gesture to offer the customer one of the following options -

 

1 - The customer has the vehicle delivered (not driven) to the dealer for them to diagnose and remedy any possible faults. The dealer after seeking legal council is aware it is his "right" to inspect the vehicle and try and resolve any problems.

 

2 - Due to the logistic issue of transporting the vehicle to the garage from Edinburgh the dealer will offer to settle the issue with a payment of £500 to the customer. The dealer is offering this payment purely as a goodwill gesture and is not an admission of any wrong doing on there behalf. Before this payment can be made the customer must confirm in writing that this is full and final settlement and no further claims against the dealer will be made.

 

As the vehicle is outside of warranty I feel this is more than a reasonable offer

 

Please advise

-----

 

A couple of issues were immediately obvious;

 

- I did contact the dealer, albeit by email to the address advertised on their website. I did not receive any error messages.

- As I understand it, the dealers 3 month warranty is irrelevant. This complaint falls within the sale of goods act.

 

So, option 1 is obviously the one to go with but should I be aware of anything here? I suspect they will probably do the work as quickly and cheaply as possible which is my only concern.

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O.K. I have got a feeling that the Finance Company is leading the dealer, the options the dealer is giving you have been instigated by the Finance Company.

 

If you have a record of the contact you made with the dealer you could consider sending it to the Finance Company.

 

Hi Rebel, the £2500 was paid using my previous car as a trade-in.
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Let's get some more input from fellow Caggers. It does sound like limited options so far.

 

Thanks again. Are you saying they should have presented me with the options to definitely repair it or to refund me?
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Yes you do. You obviously haven't been on to the Hire Purchase company, the people who own the car. Get on to them and 'tell' them they have 14 days to come up with a solution or your will reject the car for a full refund. No 'please' or 'thank yous'.

This has nothing to do with you and the seller, it is between the buyer, (finance company) and the seller.

 

 

Get a letter off today by recorded delivery.

 

 

If it was between you and the seller, you would have lost the right to reject as resolution would have passed to the seller who would have the choice of repair, replacement or refund.

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