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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71135
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello, about fourteen months ago my son purchased, on finance,

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Hello, about fourteen months ago my son purchased, on finance, a diesel car. A fault has developed on the vehicle that shows the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is faulty. Two separate garages have looked at the vehicle and it appears that the Diesel Particulate Filter had been removed and a Diesel emulator fitted. As my son was not made aware of the illegal conversion of the vehicle exhaust system at the time of buying it, can he claim his money back from the seller? Should he stop making his monthly finance payments or would this affect any potential claim against the seller. As the car is still driveable is it lawful for him to continue using it on the road i.e. would his insurance be valid now that he knows of the conversion?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Why is this illegal?
You mean because it hasn't been delcared to the DVLA?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This appears to be illegal as the vehicle no longer complies with the Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations 61a(3).

Please see

In what way does it not comply?
A conversion alone does not make it non compliant. People can convert cars to their heart's content as long as they did it in a way that complies.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The DPF is the most expensive part of the exhaust system and control the emissions released from the vehicles exhaust. The emulator that is fitted to our sons car tells the engine management computer that everything is working as it should through bypassing what the manufacturer initially installed to comply with UK and EU legislation on vehicle construction.

From February 2014 the removal of the DPF will result in an immediate fail at the MOT. A vehicle without a DPF is not merely non-standard but illegal for use on the road.

That doesn't make it illegal. That makes it an MOT fail.
Did he ask any specific questions about the exhaust at the time of sale?
Or possibly about whether there had been any conversions?
What question were asked?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Our son saw the car advertised on a website and went to a garage to make the purchase. The car was sold as standard and no mention of any alterations to any part of the vehicle. This also formed part of the documentation in applying for insurance i.e. the car had not been modified in any way. Is it not the sellers responsibility to tell him of the alterations rather than the buyer removing the exhaust to examine if the filter is complete and not merely a tube in the exhaust system?

As to the MOT fail being illegal, numerous web based documents are published about the practice of removing the filter but the most important would appear to be the following,

So he didn't ask those questions and get a false or misleading answer?
Please forget about the MOT. Its a non issue I'm afraid.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In response to your question above our son is not a vehicle mechanic. Until a few weeks ago the phrase Diesel Particulate Filter was something non of us had ever heard of. He did not specifically ask if the vehicle had one or not so he could not be given a false or misleading answer.

With regard to the MOT if the car had been bought without an MOT he would have bought it under those terms. The car was bought with an MOT and was therefore sold as a road worthy vehicle, as any other three year old vehicle would be.

The reason for my initial questions are, can a garage sell a vehicle that is not fit for use on the road in the UK without telling the buyer that the alterations have been made? This would allow the buyer to decide whether or not to buy the vehicle and carry out the necessary work to make the vehicle fit for use on the road.

Am I right in understanding that your view is that there is nothing illegal in using the car on the road with the DPF removed? As the car currently has a valid MOT is the car road legal and would his insurance still be valid in any claim, now that he is aware of the removal of the DPF?

That is all I need to know.
Its not that there is nothing illegal about the vehicle now. If it doesn't comply with the Construction and use legislation then there are offences in that. You though are trying to make the seller liable for that and it doesn't work like that. Loads of cars are sold that wouldn't pass an MOT. That doesn't give rise to a claim.
The additional complication here is that at the time of this sale it would have passed and probably was MOTed. If he bought 14 months ago then that would have been before the reforms.
I'm afraid I cannot see any claim under the Sale of Goods Act for that reason.
I was hoping there was a misrepresentation point in the sale but you seem to accept that your son didn't ask any questions that received answers that were untrue or misleading.
There is also an offence in sale of an unroadworthy vehicle although this would not seem to be unroadworthy from the comments of the garage. Also, you would have to show that it was unroadworthy at the time of sale.
There is no specific duty to inform a buyer of alterations. There is sometimes a duty to inform the DVLA of alterations but only ones that change the appearance of the car or fundamentally alter the motor. There is a duty not to lie under the law of misrepresentation but that doesn't arise here.
On your final point, if it doesn't comply with the Construction and Use legislation now then there is an offence in driving it although only one that leads to 3 points and a fine. It doesn't invalidate an insurance policy until it actually fails an MOT though.
I'm very sorry but that is your position.
Can I clarify anything for you?
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