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MrNumbskull

Clutch problem

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Looking for some advice on best steps to take next. Short version:

 

Had a clutch fitted in June 2015 (referred to a 'brand B'). Was a complete disaster, garage charged me £100 more than (verbally quoted). Broke a sensor (and charged me half the cost for that). Took four days instead of the quoted one because they fitted it wrong (though claim the part was faulty).

 

As soon as I collected the vehicle there were several things wrong. Most noticeable was the excessive juddering when releasing the clutch and notchy gear selection. I understand that these symptoms are typically caused by contaminated, warped or misaligned components.

 

Wrote a letter to the garage (by recorded delivery). Booked it in, they looked at it (and I know they took about 10 minutes max to 'inspect' it). Gave me some excuses and then told me to 'see how it goes'. Let's not forget at this point that they had already taken the thing apart twice but were only being paid to do it once.

 

It did get slightly better, but the notchy gear change has remained and now lots of other related problems are appearing.

 

Wrote to them in May 2016 (signed for), explained that it was still faulty and that I was still waiting for a detailed invoice (I requested in the previous letter). Gave them 14 days to reply and said that I would consider formal action if they failed to reply, but did not get a response.

 

Wrote again six weeks later (signed for), with a Letter before Action. At the 11th hour they have replied telling me to book it in. They also wrote a single sentence saying 'brand A' of clutch was fitted, but we never agreed that (And I know that itsn't true) - but I still can't get them to give me a detailed breakdown of the parts fitted.

 

I probably should have acted more quickly but the vehicle has been drivable, though not satisfactory and I need it every day (they do not provide courtesy vehicles).

 

The story is quite a bit longer, and they have said that they fitted the brand of clutch we initially agreed. The the second time I asked for a detailed invoice they just said they fitted 'the same as the one that came off' (which I know was not brand B). Then in the last letter they have stated that they fitted brand C, which they refused to do when I asked before the job.

 

In summary, fitted the clutch badly, had problems from the start. Fobbed off. Charged more than agreed. Paid half of a sensor they broke. Ignore my letters. Won't give me a detailed invoice (it just gives a generic "clutch" as the part despite what we agreed). Ignore my letters until I send a Letter before Action.

 

Part of the problem with the solution they have offered, is that justifiably, I don't trust them.

 

To be clear with the clutch brands, I originally requested they fit brand A, they said no we recommend brand B. So when I took it in there was a note - I have a copy - saying fit brand B as agreed. When they wouldn't provide a detailed invoice they said that they fitted 'the same as the one that came off' which is a different brand altogether.

 

Can elaborate if it helps.

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So what do you want to achieve? how far are you willing to proceed?


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

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I have to be realistic in terms of what's practical and reasonable. In an ideal world, I would like a refund of the amount paid, to return the various parts to them, then get another trusted garage to fit the kit I originally favoured.

 

The above story would have been too long to be interesting, but there are several parts which I haven't mentioned which reinforce the overall idea that I don't trust them. I'll elaborate for the sake of justify my position in order of events:

 

Verbal quote / agreement

Ask them to fit brand A of clutch. They say 'never heard of them / probably junk etc', we recommend brand B. I agree with their recommendation of brand B, and agree a cost of £800 and one day to do it.

 

Thursday

Take the vehicle in - with a note - saying please fit brand B as agreed. I still have a copy of this note.

Get a phone call late in the afternoon saying they're just finishing putting it back together and will be ready shortly (as in, you can come and collect it).

Arrive there to find that they're having trouble starting it. Wait about an hour in reception then they close and I go home without the vehicle.

 

Friday

Phone them at lunchtime and they tell me to call back later.

When I call back later, they say they've found a broken sensor and the part will be delivered shortly. Tell me to collect just before closing time.

When I turn up at closing time, wait about half an hour for them to tell me that the replacement sensor didn't fix the problem. I go home without the vehicle.

 

Saturday

They're open in the morning and eventually answer the phone.

Tell me that as they tried to crank it for so long, the battery is flat, and needs a "good charge" because the battery goes flat before their reader can get the fault code from the vehicle.

 

Monday

Phone them again and they give me the same story as they did on Saturday. Did they not think to leave the battery on charge over the weekend?

 

Tuesday

Phone them again at lunchtime and they say that they think it's a faulty flywheel and are just fitting a replacement. Should be ready later.

Finally collect vehicle late in the day. Cost is just over £900 and they charge me for 50% of the cost of the broken sensor. Four working days to do the job instead of one.

 

What I know happened is that they broke the sensor as it is easily done if you either don't remove it before taking the flywheel off, or don't pull the flywheel off straight. This blinded them in terms of the starting problem. The vehicle was running fine when I drove it there before the sensor was even touched.

 

What I am fairly sure happened is that they fitted the replacement flywheel in the wrong position. It is critical to take note of the position of a small dowel which again can fall out, this will in turn offset the timing ring on the back of the flywheel. Probably as a result of having other jobs already booked in they rushed in re-aligning / replacing the flywheel the second time. Used an air tool to tighten the bolts / not torqued correctly / not torqued in the correct pattern / contaminated clutch faces / dropped flywheel etc.

 

So in the above order of events, we can see that they had to disassemble, remove and refit a clutch twice (remove original and refit replacement, then remove and refit replacement) whilst only being paid to do it once.

 

I could immediately tell that there was a problem as soon as I collected the vehicle, and if I'd gone straight back in to tell them they wouldn't for a minute have entertained getting it back on the ramps, and at this point I was just glad to have the thing back. I phoned them shortly after and told them about the problems and they said that it probably need to bed-in and I should give it a few miles to settle.

 

After a month and a few hundred miles, it was no better. Wobbling in the gear stick as the clutch engages. Notchy and stiff going into gear. So I write to them, outlining all of the problems. I also ask in the letter for a proper invoice, rather than just 'replacement clutch' as a part description. About two weeks after the letter was delivered (recorded post), I get a phone call saying to book it in.

 

Drop it off first thing in the morning before they are open so that they have all day to look at it. When I phone later in the afternoon, they tell me that they're 'just looking at it now' and to go in just before closing time. When I turn up it is clear that they have not done anything with it, because one of the other staff tells me that they're just going to 'get it up on the lift after that MoT has finished'. So I'm waiting about half an hour in reception and they come out with the best diagnosis I've probably ever heard: "it's probably wobbling because these Japanese cars have softer engine mounts than the German ones", as if that's relevant. I wonder why it didn't do it before the clutch change?

 

So we're clear, it's a large 4x4 with and in-line engine and gearbox. I would have been quite able to do the work myself, but I don't have a four post lift, or a transmission jack (the gearbox which needs to be removed is about 100 Kg alone). I do however play dumb when they give me their opinion, partly because it allows me to see how much BS they are prepared to give customers, but also that not all of us like or feel comfortable with confrontation.

 

One of the reasons I have left it this long is partly down to apathy, and partly down to the fact that the vehicle does drive and I need it on a daily basis. Not a good excuse, but we are where we are. At least I reported all of the issues in writing right after the events. But we can see that when I did report those I was fobbed off any way.

 

So as of now, things are only marginally better with the gear stick wobble. It is still notchy to engage gear, and now there are other clutch related symptoms happening (I believe as a direct result of the original poor work). I wrote to them in May 2016, providing copies of our previous correspondence and asking (again) for an accurate itemised invoice and their intended course of action with regards to the faults. I asked for a reply within two weeks and got nothing.

 

I then sent them a LBA six weeks later and they replied after ten days saying that they were sorry to hear of the problems in my June dated letter.( I didn't mention any problems in the June letter, only what action was imminent), the problems were outlined in the May letter so it indicates that they have read it but then ignored it.

 

I have asked them on several occasions which brand of clutch they have fitted. Originally I asked for brand A, they recommend brand B, so I tell them to fit brand B. When they fail to produce an sufficiently detailed invoice they tell me that they fitted 'the same as the one that came off', which is another brand altogether! Now on their reply to the LBA, they say that the original brand A was fitted!

 

I'm still waiting for the adequately detailed invoice.

 

It is very difficult to get them to commit anything in writing, hence the protracted nature of the dispute. I refuse to telephone them on the basis that I'm not afraid to take formal action and so it helps validate my case if I have a paper trail.

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Ok, well you have the choice here. You could ask them to refund your money and you will get the car repaired elsewhere and see if they go for that; though they are not obliged to espically as you have had over a years use out of the clutch. You should have rejected it straight away or at the very least within weeks.

 

Or you take the car back ask to see the clutch that they are going to fit and the one they remove and get them to do the job, then if it is still wrong reject and go through the process corectly.


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

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Ok, well you have the choice here. You could ask them to refund your money and you will get the car repaired elsewhere and see if they go for that; though they are not obliged to espically as you have had over a years use out of the clutch. You should have rejected it straight away or at the very least within weeks.

 

Or you take the car back ask to see the clutch that they are going to fit and the one they remove and get them to do the job, then if it is still wrong reject and go through the process corectly.

Rejected what? I wrote to them within a couple of weeks and then they took another two weeks after receiving the letter to book it in. They then fobbed me off.

 

As far as asking about the clutch fit / removal, they will not even give me an invoice with a satisfactory description of the goods I paid for. Even if I did ask to see the old clutch and the one they are going to fit, does that mean they actually will? I have a (justifiable) trust issue with them based entirely upon experience so far.

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The garage has the right to repair, you can ask if they would prefer to just return your money.


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

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The garage has already had a single opportunity to correct the problem, but did nothing. I believe that there's a misconception regarding the number of attempts they should be given. However, I'm not closed to them doing it, I just need to make it very clear about what I expect and what will happen if it is not done.

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Will you name this garage please MrNumbskull ??

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TES Garage Services, Hampshire.

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It is pointless sending an LBA and then not taking action. You have told them what you want and that if you don't get satisfaction

you will proceed to court, so you must now do that otherwise they will know it was bull and continue doing nothing.

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It is pointless sending an LBA and then not taking action. You have told them what you want and that if you don't get satisfaction you will proceed to court, so you must now do that otherwise they will know it was bull and continue doing nothing.

I sent them a letter in May requesting a satisfactory invoice and their plan of action to rectify the faults. I asked for a reply within two weeks - quite reasonable; not for them to fix it, just a reply. It said that if it was not satisfactory then I would be looking to take formal action.

 

I heard nothing, and so sent them an LBA after six weeks. I fully intend(ed) to proceed with a claim and had to send them an LBA because it is part of the required pre-action conduct. They replied after about ten days offering to investigate the faults, but not sending the invoice I requested.

 

I would much rather proceed with the claim and get the faults rectified elsewhere by a garage which I trust. BUT, if this was to ever get to a hearing, I don't believe it would look as if I had acted reasonably in light of them offering to investigate, and although they have not provided the invoice as requested, the lack of an invoice is not cause in itself for action. And based upon the value of the claim, I would be about £75 worse off due to the fees.

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So finally they've had the car to look at and although acknowledge each fault that I have reported, have blamed every one on something else, where even those with a rudimentary knowledge in mechanics can see is BS.

 

Although most of the problems are easy to fix, they have not offered to do so. For example, the rattling noise has been blamed on a slightly leaky exhaust (a gas leak that is). The problem with this is that the leak has only been there since I fitted a new part (the joint is a bit loose) a couple of months ago, the rattle was going on months before that.

 

When I went to collect it, they basically handed me a letter saying that each fault was to do with this or that (even when I know it's not and mechanically makes no sense even to a layperson).

 

The bottom of the letter went on to say that an inspection had been done in "association" with an independent transmission specialist. I asked to see the report and they floundered saying that they didn't have it yet, and they might not get it in writing. They also wouldn't say who performed this inspection. They didn't answer when I asked when I would get a copy of the report. The first question was "can I have a copy of this report?" and the answer was a simple "no".

 

What they did do was put 50 miles on the car and used the fuel to go with it. I had taken pictures of the odometer when I dropped it off and immediately on collection.

 

Right now, I feel there's nothing left to do but make a claim, but I would appreciate some advice on how to proceed with this:

 

1. I feel it would be a very worthwhile exercise to formally involve the 'independent' specialist in the claim. Not as liable in any way, but to force the defending garage to produce the report. I suspect that there is no such independent company, or it's someone they know. I would bet that this other company if they exist, would not want to get involved.

 

2. I still do not have an invoice describing the branding etc of the items which they replaced. They have ignored all requests to provide one. Is this worth a very brief mention in the PoC?

 

3.Where do I stand in terms of the mileage added to the car? When I provided the garage with the vehicle there was no agreement, suggestion or mention of involving a third-party, or taking it elsewhere. I have no idea where it's been or who has driven it. They had it for a day and a half.

 

I'm sure they'll be more questions as I form the PoC details. I suspect that when I submit they claim they will likely fold, so the most appropriately worded and detailed PoC might save me some long term effort.

 

Thanks

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