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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I bought a car for £13500 and it had a catastrophic engine

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I bought a car for £13500 and it had a catastrophic engine failure after 4 weeks & 450 miles. The dealer concerned has been sent 3 letters, by hand, by email and by recorded delivery asking for an answer to buy back or pay for repairs within 7 days. He has ignored them all and it is now 21 days. Can I now go ahead and repair the car and chase him for the money in the small claims court?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How much are the repairs for?


The initial estimate is £5000 but the repairer cannot give an accurate amount without stripping down the engine. He won't do this until somebody says that they will pay him as it is quite a big job to strip the engine.

Ben Jones :

So you are happy to pay and then take the risk of chasing the dealer?



Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please


  1. I purchased a Porsche Boxster S, registration number LK05 AKP from Mr.Andrew Freeman of Wokingham Car Centre on the 5th February 2014 for the sum of £13500. It was described in his Autotrader advert as “Faultless and drives beautifully”, has a full Porsche service history and comes complete with 12 months MOT with only 59000 miles on the clock.

    Mr.Freeman did not offer a warranty but offered a warranty package costing approximately £400 for 12 months with a maximum claim limit of about £1000. In his words “it was too expensive and because of the history and condition of the vehicle it didn’t need it”.


  2. However, on March 13th after completing only 480 miles from when the car was last MOT tested on the 24th January, almost 2 weeks before I bought the car, the engine suffered a catastrophic engine failure. I can’t say for certain how many miles that I had driven the car, but it was certainly less than 480. The car had not been modified or had any other work carried out on it since I purchased it. Also, since it has an automatic transmission it is impossible to over rev the engine as it would automatically change to the next gear if any attempt was made to rev the engine excessively. At the time of the engine failure I was in slow rush hour traffic travelling at approximately 45mph.


  3. I contacted Mr.Freeman straight away and he suggested having the car taken to Northway Porsche Specialists at Beenham to diagnose and estimate the cost of repairs. This I did by calling out the AA and the car was taken to Northway Porsche on an AA transporter.


  4. Northway Porsche have currently given an estimate of £5000 to repair the engine, but cannot give a final accurate figure without completely dismantling the engine. They cannot do this until an agreement has been made to cover the costs involved.


  5. On 24th March 2014 I presented Mr.Freeman with the estimate, together with a letter asking him to refund the cost of the vehicle or cover the cost of repairs. The letter also stated that I would require an answer in 14 days from that date. I could not meet with him until the 24th because he had gone on holiday on the day following the engine failure.

    At this meeting he categorically denied that he was in any way responsible for any repairs, but did offer £1000, then 10 minutes later £2000 as a “good will gesture”. I did not accept his offer as I was holding him responsible for the full amount of the repair, or to take back the car.


  6. On Friday 4th April I contacted Citizens Advice because I had not had any contact from Mr.Freeman and I wanted advice on what I should do next. They told me that it was probably not safe to rely on the hand delivered letter of the 24th March as it was his word against mine that he had been given it. They advised me to send another letter to him by recorded delivery giving him another 7 days to respond. This was sent to him on 7th April and confirmed that he had received it on the 8th April as shown on the Post Office web site.

    Still no response!


  7. Currently I do not have a car, only a van that I use for my job as an electrician, and I would like to get a conclusion to this episode ASAP so that the car can be repaired, or I can find a replacement.

  8. I do not think it unreasonable to expect the dealer to be responsible for this expense due to the very short time since the sale and very few miles driven.


  9. The reference that I have been directed to is “The OFT Guidance for Second Hand Car Dealers, section 9 paragraph 23” but Mr.Freeman seems to think that he does not need to comply with the OFT guidance.


  10. In conclusion, the car in general was, and is, in excellent condition, well maintained with a full Porsche service history, but I can’t believe that the engine failure was not due to an underlying fault that would have been present at the point of sale only 4 weeks previous. As the OFT guidance states, the onus is on the seller to prove that the fault was not present at the time of sale. The buyer has to prove nothing.




    Lloyd Webster



Sorry Ben. I have copied my notes to you. This was accidental, however, it may give you more of an idea of the dilemma I am in !!

Ben Jones :

no problem, that's helpful

Ben Jones :

So I will quickly explain the law in these situations, what your rights are and what you can do. I see you have already referred to some publications on this so apologies if there is information you have already read elsewhere but I want to cover all bases.


When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a dealer they will have certain rights under consumer law, specifically the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPR) and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SGA).


Under the CPR, the following business practices are deemed unfair if they prompted you to make a decision to buy the car in question:

  • Giving false information about the vehicle or deceiving the buyer through false advertising

  • Giving insufficient information to the buyer, for example leaving out important information about the condition of the car


Failure to adhere to the CPR rules will be unlawful and may even amount to a criminal offence so if you believe that the dealer acted in contravention of these rules you can bring this up with them when you contact them about this.


In addition, you will have certain rights under the SGA, which states that when you buy an item from a business seller it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match its description. If the car does not satisfy any of these, the dealer will be responsible.


They will only be liable for faults that were present at the time the vehicle was sold, even if they become apparent later on. However, they will not be liable for fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage or any issues that were brought to the buyer’s attention before the sale. The age and value of the vehicle will also be relevant and the expectations of older vehicles will certainly be lower.


If the vehicle does not meet the above requirements, the buyer can reject the vehicle and return it to the dealer requesting a refund. However, this will need to be done within a ‘reasonable period, which is usually 3-4 weeks after purchase and you should be just in time to do so.


If the dealer refuses to resolve this issue or accept any liability, you could take legal action against them. However, before going down that route you should try and resolve the issue directly with them by sending them a formal letter specifying how you want this matter resolved and giving them 7 days to respond. Advise them that if they fail to get back to you or deal with this in a satisfactory manner, you will have no other option but to report them to Trading Standards and issue legal proceedings to seek compensation.


In the end you can undertake the repairs yourself if needed and pursue the dealer in the small claims court for any costs/losses incurred as a result of this. Whilst you are making the claim, within the first 6 months after purchase it is for the seller to show that the fault was not present at the time of sale or that the car was of satisfactory quality.


As far as I am aware, the only thing the dealer did with this car prior to the sale was to get it MOT'd. The only entries in the service book are from previous occasions at Porsche dealerships. I do not think that he did any mechanical inspections, but he did say, prior to my letter to him, that the fault is common and therefore he is not liable. Surely, if the dealer selling the car thinks that there is a common fault, then he should be checking this prior to sale.

Ben Jones :

it's a trick issue - there is nothing that says they have to carry out detailed inspections, even if they think there are common faults. Then one must also think if an inspeciton would have actually revealed there was a fault that would result in this or is it something that could happen at any time. One thing is for certain though - you cannot force the dealer to resolve this at this stage and if you have tried all you can but they refuse then court is the only way forward


Thanks Ben. I thought the onus was on the dealer to prove that the specific part that has failed had been tested prior to the sale, and a tick test sheet was not acceptable. Finally, what's your gut feeling on this. Should I pursue it in the small claims court. It will cost quite a bit of cash to go down that route.

Ben Jones :

no, the dealer has to prove that the car met the statutory requirements of being of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. One cannot expect a dealer to test every part of a car, even if known to fail. That would place an unreasonable burden on sellers. The issue is that gut feelings from someone with limited knowledge of the full situation will not be very helpful - I can only advise you of the law and your rights, not whether to go ahead or not. A claim, assuming a value of exactly £5,000 would cost in the region of £500, assuming you have no legal help, so you must be prepared to risk that too if you ere to proceed


Thanks Ben

Ben Jones :

yu are most welcome

Ben Jones :


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