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sean the sheep

Used Car – Repair / Rejection for water leak?

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Hi – Looking for some advice. Apologies for long post.

My daughter bought a used 2009 Suzuki Alto (which I paid for) from a local well known, reputable Toyota dealer who has been trading for many years. They also sell second hand cars ranging from about £2k to £30-40k. Our car cost £2490 and came with a 12 month warranty (for what it’s worth), new mot and a full service history. Although not quite as cheap as some other cars we had seen, appeared to be a good buy.

A few days after purchase, still quite happy with the car, we noticed the boot lock wasn’t working (insert key but not turning, but able to open boot remotely by inside latch). Rang garage and they said, no problem book it in and we’ll repair it which we were happy with, although the date to repair is nearly 2 weeks after purchase.


Had the car about a week and while giving it a clean, picked up the mat in the rear passenger footwell and noticed that it was damp. Then discovered the carpet under the mat was also quite wet.

I unclipped some side trim from around the bottom of the door and was able to put my hand under the carpet and have a feel around in the footwell and under the front seat. Discovered a lot of water under the carpet and the sponge backing of the carpet was soaking and a soggy mess. Discovered that the leak / water extends to the front passenger footwell as well. Have mopped up as much as I can but it’s obviously still quite damp and will again get worse  when it rains.  On further inspection when raining, the leak / water seems to be dribbling from the rear seat belt bolt under the seat cushion, running down under the seat cushion and then onto the floor of the car and obviously running also to the front of the car. On inspection of the underneath of the seat cushion there is a fair bit of mould on the side of the leak which indicates that the leak / fault has been there for some considerable length of time and definitely before we purchased the car. The top of the seat cushion also seems to be damp and would have to be dried properly so currently can’t have any passengers sitting on the back seat. I’ve taken photos of the seats showing the mould and also a number of photos with the carpet pulled up as far as possible.


Anyway, popped into the garage myself as I was passing to inform them of this 2nd fault. The guy on the front desk said, just bring it in as arranged for the boot lock and we’ll also have a look at the leak issue. I pointed out that, unless obvious, finding the leak would maybe be a lengthy task and the car would probably have to come back in again. He just said ‘yeah, ok, no problem’. Didn’t seem overly bothered. Also told him I was aware of my Consumer rights and didn’t really want to invoke further action if the repair was not done satisfactorily , again he just said’ yeah ok, no problem’.


Now, as we’re happy with the car, we’re willing to have the garage repair the leak if they can, but I also want to make sure that after they do this, the carpet and the underfelt sponge is either replaced or thoroughly cleaned and dried out as it’s starting to smell. Also want to make sure that the leak is repaired as if not, the same thing will happen and we’ll be back to square one.


It seems to me to do a satisfactory job the seats and carpets will have to be removed from the car which will involve a fair bit of work from the garage. Until I take it back in I’m unsure wether they’ll be happy to do this. What if they say they’ll sort it but not remove the seats/carpet and try to just wipe up the water and dry it out with a heater or something similar so it appears to have been dried out. Essentially, I’d just want the job done properly – leak repaired, carpet/underfelt dried out or replaced – job done.


I have read up regarding my rights under the Consumer rights Act 2015 and understand that as the car has at least 2 faults, one relatively minor, but the major one being the water leak, both rendering the car ‘unfit for purpose’, our first option is that we can simply reject the car and ask for the money back as we're with the 30 day time limit. My daughter needs and likes the car which is why we are considering the repair. However I really need to make sure the fault is sorted out once and for all .


Am I correct in saying that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 allows a dealership one chance at repair and then if not sorted I can still reject the car ? If so this will give me some reassurance if the fault isn’t repaired and the leak returns.


Would also appreciate some guidance as to what people think as to the best advice to avoid future hassle.


1.       Go for rejection , which would make sure we get our money back but then hassle as daughter likes it and we’ll have to start looking for another car.

2.       Let the garage try to do the repair and hope they can sort it. (but reject if fault not fixed)


Would appreciate any replied / comments etc Thank you


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Despite the long post, you haven't managed to include the date upon which you bought it.

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Thank you.

Well you obviously are quite aware of your rights under the consumer rights act. Within the first 30 days, you don't even have to give an opportunity to repair. You can simply assert your right to reject the car and insist on a refund plus any ancillary losses such as penalties for early insurance cancellation et cetera blah blah blah. You also have within the first six months of purchase a right to reject after one failed attempt at a repair.

It's up to you to decide what you want to do course. However I would start putting it in writing from now. Unfortunately this may sound a bit conflict oriented to the dealer and you risk losing goodwill – if there is any. But to protect yourself, I think that it would be reasonable to assert your short-term right to reject – in other words tell him that under normal circumstances you would be entitled to reject the car out of hand but because you like it and because you want to show goodwill, you are prepared to give him a chance to repair the faults – but you should say that if the repair fails then you will be asking for a refund plus any losses.

These consumer rights are all well and good – but at the end of the day we're finding a lot of difficulty – especially with second-hand car dealers – of getting the dealer to comply with their statutory obligations.

The problem with the vehicle – as you have already intimated – is that if you want to reject the vehicle then first of all you will have to do without the vehicle until you get a new one. Secondly, you may not be able to afford a new vehicle until you get your refund – and even having to bridge just a couple of grand for a very cheap second hand vehicle can cause a lot of problems for many people. People normally buy cheap second hand vehicles because they don't have a lot of money in the first place.

Who is the dealer? Is this a well established reputable dealer who is likely still to be there in a few months time – with assets et cetera? Or is this somebody against whom you might bring a legal action and then suddenly find that they've moved – or even that their trading from the same address but they have a different company name? These are the kind of difficulties that one finds oneself up against with second-hand car dealers. They're generally a very shady business – and even the reputable "authorised" dealers cause loads of problems when it comes to having to give money back.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a paper trail – take lots of photographs. By the way, you say that there is a 12 month warranty. You don't need to worry about this. You are adequately covered by the Consumer Rights Act which gives you full coverage to the extent that the car must be of satisfactory quality and remain that way for a reasonable period of time. Have a look at the 12 month warranty, it may count for you for extra-little bits and pieces – but I doubt it. Most 12 month warranties have the effect of persuading an innocent customer that this is the only protection they have and that at the end of 12 months they are on their own. This is completely untrue, of course.


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Posted (edited)

Ah, thanks for the very prompt detailed reply BankFodder - really appreciated.  The Company in question have traded for years and are very well know in the area and unlikely to fold. However, I'll certainly be taking your advice and putting everything in writing regarding asking for a refund if the repair fails etc. Really could do without the hassle and problems as you've pointed out and hope they can just simply repair the fault. Also taken lots of photos as well . Also aware that the Consumer rights Act overrides any warranty having read other excellent advice on this forum.

Out of interest, after a 1st failed repair attempt, can I give him another go and still go for a rejection if a 2nd repair attempt fails ?  Obviously  after a 2nd repair attempt failure I'm going to start losing faith that a repair can ever be achieved and don't want to be going back and forth.

Edited by sean the sheep

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Yes you can but make sure that you put it in writing that you are continuing your rights under the first six months. As long as it first happens in six months and there is a fail during the six months then your subsequent rights keep on running under that provision

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Posted (edited)

Thank you again. Hmm that's good news. I think possibly fixing a fault such as a leak could maybe be a bit hit and miss and it may be prudent to give him a few attempts if he can't fix it 1st time. However,as I previously said , after probably the 2nd attempt I'm going to start losing faith that a repair can be achieved and don't want to be going back and forth so at least I have some peace of mind I can go for the rejection if I want.

I'll keep the post updated. Thank you.

Edited by sean the sheep
edit wording

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Advice from me as someone who has seen and tried to fix water ingress in cars.

Get rid of the car if they don't find a clear and repairable source of the leak.

If it is a lens gasket for example, by all means get it changed and enjoy the ride, but if it is something that they struggle to spot, a design fault (some cars have them, google your model), rusted bits that let water in, windscreen not sealed properly or anything not as simple as a new rubber gasket, leave it.

You're lucky to be dealing with an established business and within 30 days, so use this.

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Thank you King12345 for the input & info - much appreciated. Yes that's what I'm worried about, that if they aren't 100% sure of where the exact source of the leak is they'll probably say, 'Yeah we 'think' we knew where the leak was and we've sorted it. Here's the car back - see how it goes'. This then means if it leaks again I have to go back again which is just proper hassle for me. I think I'll be going for rejection if they don't fix 1st time as I can't be doing with it. In my mind if they can't fix it first time it will turn into something of a long term problem and just give me a headache not to mention a pain for my daughter who has to use the car.

Any further advice is appreciated. Thank you all.

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