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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 55946
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I bought a 2003 ford focus with full service history etc

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Hi I bought a 2003 ford focus with full service history etc in very good condition (i thought) The day after dealer dropped it off the engine management light came on but the car sounded and drove fine. I took it back to the dealer who also owns a repair and mot garage run by his son. He put the diagnostics machine on the engine which told him that cylinder 4 was miss firing. He removed a plug lead and applied some gel then ran the car which resulted in thick white smoke emitting from the exhaust. He said to drive it and if the light came on again it would need new plugs and leads. The problem having been caused by an engine steam clean, he thought. The next day i was booked on a ferry to Ireland. Whilst driving to my destination in Ireland the light came on again but no change to engine as far as i could tell. During my 3 week visit the cars performance changed and didnt seem to be running as well. I took it to a mechanic friend with new plugs and leads as this is what the dealers son had said was possibly the cause of the light coming on. My friend changed the plugs noting that cylinder 4 plug was burnt. I drove the car back to Worcester via the ferry which arrived in Liverpool. I took the car back to the dealer as soon as i could. The dealer is saying that i shouldnt have carried on driving the car as the engine was knocking..(i thought miss firing) ANYWAY IT DIDNT SOUND GOOD TO BE FAIR. He says that it has dropped a valve and that i have driven it to destruction. It will need the head coming off etc.. an expensive job anyway. He says he will work with me to resolve it but i will have to pay towards the repair. I feel that they are at fault here for allowing me to drive off without investigating the original problem properly. Whilst in Ireland I checked the oil level and found there to be very little oil in the engine. My mechanic friend said it had been burning oil which was resulting in more white smoke coming from the exhaust for most of my journey back. I would like a refund but he is refusing and says this is my fault. How do i stand with this please? regards, Paul
Hello when did you buy the car?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
10th October 2014
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
sorry 2015 last month
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Thanks for your patience. You will have rights under the brand new Consumer Rights Act 2015 which applies to purchases made after 1 October. When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a dealer they will have certain rights under consumer laws.
First of all, 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 these 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.
Your other rights state 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. By law you have a month to do this so you are still within time.
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.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the exact steps you need to follow to get compensation, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Ben Jones and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
You can treat the money for the repairs or the value of the car as a debt. Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Ben you have given me lots text re law which I appreciate and can look up anywhere. I want your opinion as to if the facts as I have outlined could result in a successful case for a refund or not? Paul
You won't get anyone to tell you whether you will be successful or not - that's not how law works, especially when I only have a limited amount of information. A lawyer can tell you that you have reasonable prospects of success and that you can bring in a claim, but we cannot tell you that you will get a successful resolution and a refund.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I understand that..and........, "Do i have a reasonable prospect of success, based upon the information i have given you?"
Like i said all the information you gave me is out there free of charge. I thought I was paying for an informed opinion? I can give you as much information as you like but the bones of its there in my first summary. He says that he would win a legal battle as.... I continued to drive the car. A 1000 miles to Ireland and back and in between. But, I say, they should have sorted it when I took the car in within a few days of buying it. The fault that i reported then has led to the problem now. I'm not a mechanical expert and the car sounded fine to me. It did sound like the engine was running unevenly by the time I got back to Worcester tho. I even rang him from Ireland to let him know what was happening , he didn't tell me to stop driving it. He said bring it in to him when I got back. I would rather have an honest opinion from an expert such as yourself before going blindly into a legal battle even if you say i'm wasting my time.... I know I cant hold you to it and i signed the disclaimer at the beginning.
It does not matter if you continue to driver car, unless you are causing further damage in the process. What matters is that there was an issue to start with. So you can pursue them for that and if by you driving the car the issues have been made worse, they could deduct some of the charges to reflect that. However, it does not remove their liability for the original issues. So yes, you d have reasonable grounds to take matters further and I would hope that by pursuing the steps outlines above you could twist their arm and reach a resolution without actually having to go all the way to court.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Okay that's sound..thanks for your help Ben.
You are welcome, best of luck
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Ben re the 30 days rule. I was just checking the dates. I purchased the car on 10th October then returned it with the fault on the 16th October. However, i couldn't return the car and ask for refund until 10th of November as i was in Ireland. This amounts to something like 33 days. So how do i stand regarding the 30 day rule. Is it based on when i first reported the problem or when i asked for refund and rejected the car? Paul
Hello Paul, the 30 days are for when you actually tell the seller you wish to reject the vehicle, not when you initially tell them of the fault. So if you did not actually take steps to reject it in that time tou could be too late. However they will still have a duty to repair or replace it even if they do not have to issue a refund
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Okay thanks Ben. Too late then.
It may just be the case by the looks of it, sorry