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Used Car Failed After 8 Weeks

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iloveglee | 13:56 Wed 17th Jul 2013 | Motoring
40 Answers
I would be interested to hear comments about our situation with a used car we bought 8 weeks ago. we bought it from a small car trader and he specifically wrote on the invoice bought with no warranty. we actually did not expect a warranty from a small company selling high mileage cars. during the 8 weeks we had it, it was parked for 10 days with no use while we were away. it did 1000 miles in the time we did use it. on a motorway run, suddenly out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever, the power went, lots of black smoke and had to be recovered by our breakdown company. the garage says the head gasket has gone and the engine is not repairable, it needs a new one. he doesnt know why this happened, may have been an underlying problem but cant now say what. the trader said on the phone because there was no warranty he is not responsible. i know the sale of goods act says what you buy has to be fit for purpose for a reasonable length of time. the car is a turbo diesel zafira with 107,000 miles on the clock. has anyone out there met with a similar situation and how far did they get with it. we suspect, although we dont know for sure that the owner of this company works for a larger car dealers and has set up a company to sell off cars that come in as part exchanges instead of sending them to auction. we dont believe the larger company he works for is aware of this although, again we dont know for sure. what we do know is that the hpi check was done by the larger company. we could use the option of the small claims court but are we likely to be successful.


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It is very suspicious

I suspect that it was showing early signs of head gasket failure and had some 'head gasket repair gunk' added to the coolant to get it sold. Of course there's no guarantee the small trader did this or knew it.

It was probably sold at auction which is where most small traders get their cars from.

There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there
I'm afraid it's caveat emptor.
Question Author
caveat emptor applies when you buy something privately not from someone who is a trader. traders have a responsibility under the sale of goods act. it may have had something done to it to prevent it looking as though there was a problem, however, evidently the seller has to show that they have sold something that was fit for purpose. what i am trying to ask is what peoples views are on what is considered a reasonable length of time to have a used car before it breaks down. also, whether there were any answerbank users out there who have had this kind of experience, whether they did anything about it and what the outcome was.
You bought it from a car trader - it doesn't matter how small the business is the transaction is subject to the Sales of Goods Act which requires goods to be as described; of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

I would reasonably expect a car to last more than 8 weeks and 1000 miles, especially as a diesel engine has much more mileage in it than a petrol engine.

A trader cannot evade his legal rights. You cannot sign his rights away by agreeing to buy the car without warranty.

Had he sold it as spares only that is a different matter altogether but I assume that not is the case here.

How much did you pay for the car; how old is it; did it come with an MOT?
Also, how did you pay for it?
Yes indeed, all true above in fairy tale land but you try getting anything out of a dealer. Impossible. You can't even get them to replace a brand new car.
Question Author
Paid £2900 for it, had 106,000 on clock when bought, £107k now. paid cash sadly otherwise would have gone to card company. we do now know that the small trader is part of the larger company who use it to sell off their cheaper, higher mileage cars. the manager said he wasn't saying they would do nothing but we would have to get the car to them to repair and we would have to pay something to the repair, no clue from him as to how much. the car wont drive so will have to be towed. feels as though we should pursue him through the court because we dont feel that we should be in such a significantly worse place than we were 8 weeks ago. reasonable is a very grey area though seemingly.
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i think if someone is liable under the law, they should be taken to court if they will not take their responsibilities. the courts do have the power to enforce a judgement not least having the bailiffs move in.
It is reasonable to expect more than 8 weeks use or drive one thousand miles in a 3k car. If you had paid £300 then it would be a grey area.

Write to the trader who sold you the car - your contract is with him - stating that the car is not of satisfactory quality and you expect either a repair or refund under the Sale of Goods Act.

If he does not reply within 14 days send another letter stating that if the matter is not resolved you have no option but to start legal proceedings and report him to the local Trading Standards Office.

Send all letters by recorded (registered?) delivery and keep copies.

It is an easy and cheap process to claim.
Question Author
i wondered about reporting them to trading standards actually. i have an odd feeling about this subsidiary company being a little bit off. it looks as though claiming through small claims may be a way forward if he doesnt compensate us enough, it would be nice to hear from anyone who has gone through this process as to how it works in practice, how long it takes and how successful it was in the end. thanks for the input
You have to show they knowingly sold you a pup and that they have refused to fix it. QED, they always offer to repair it and cover some of the cost. believe me you are urinating in the wind.
I would ask him to go one step further and ask him to tow the car in for you and look at it to see what needs doing. Or if he says he can't do that can you get the car towed in to him to look at ?
As it stands you have a car worth about £150 as scrap metal, you can go down the small claims court route but I think there is a strong chance , you will lose. It is possible for a head gasket to go suddenly , rare but possible.
You would have to prove that he knew it was defective when he sold it and that may be hard .
Yes hc's right (don't listen to Tora)

Here's a guide*ADV0003-1011.txt

Do bear in mind though, in your righteous anger that this car may very well have been patched up to sell to the dealer and he may have had no idea of the issue - he's now stuffed with a very expensive repair.

The nature of this repair is crucial here - a head gasket failure can simply be rectified by having the head off and replacing the gasket but in most cases it would be normal to skim the head in case it's been warped by the overheating.

It can trash an entire engine but that's not all that common.

If he is replacing the head gasket ask whether he's planning to skim the head - if not and it is warped it could fail again in short order in which case he might try and weasel out of it again.

Now he's asking for a contribution - I don't see why you should pay that unless it's 'betterment' - that is if he's intending to replace the entire engine with one of a significantly lower mileage. If he's just planning to replace the head gasket I don't see why you should be expected to contribute to that.

You're already paying to get the car to him!

The fact that it had an MOT and HPI check is completely irrelevant - head gasket checks are not part of an MOT - that's designed to verify the car is safe rather than in good condition and even then that's just on the day.
Just had a thought , look at the registration book (log book) and find the name of the previous owner then contact them to ask if they had problems with the car.
The head gasket going would not mean the engine was unrepairable, it would need a new head gasket. I would suggest it was on it's way out when you bought it, but they kept it topped up with water. The power going and the black smoke isn't the norm for a gasket failure.
Go back to the trader face to face and ask him how this can be resolved, if he refuses, tell him you are going to Trading Standards and then make sure you do.
Question Author
again, having done a little bit more research, in the first 6 months the burden of proof is on the seller not the buyer. only if the buyer is rejecting the item and asking for a refund is the burden of proof on the buyer. in this case, the car has not been rejected and a refund is not being asked for. we are asking for a repair - the cost to be borne by the seller, or a replacement. the question was really is 8 weeks and 1000 miles reasonable???
Question Author
should maybe clarify - the mechanic that had a look at it said the head gasket blew suddenly which then caused irreparable damage to the engine. knowing nothing about engines, i dont actually know what a head gasket is and am not sure i want to really, i realise the trader himself might not have known, but surely if he is selling something he should make sure it is ok - otherwise this kind of thing happens. no doubt they gamble on it lasting long enough before it packs up so that the buyer really doesnt have any comeback. maybe if this was going to happen it was as well it happened quickly so at least we may have some recompense for this.
The fact that the mechanic said it failed suddenly is likely to favour the dealer if you do have to go to court. Head gaskets usually give warning before they finally go. It is looking like the dealer genuinely may not have know about it.
Too late now but as you admit you know little about cars make sure you take someone with you who does know about them next time. In the meantime go with the 'Trading Standards' approach.
Also it is not uncommon for a large dealer ship to have a 'satellite' company that sells the low cost cars for them it is quite legal.
Question Author
apparently, under the sale of goods act, if an item turns out to be unfit for purpose during the first 6 months then the onus is on the trader to be able to prove that the item WAS fit for purpose. the onus is not on the buyer to show that it either was or was not. the facts are that out of the blue, with no warning of any kind this car engine stopped, kicked out black smoke, and has never worked from that day. the mechanic without taking the engine apart, to the best of his knowledge said the head gasket had gone and 'cooked' the engine. his view is that this is unusual and there must have been an underlying problem. all the buyer can do is run the car and if nothing makes them think there is a problem then you have had to rely on the dealer to have sold you something that is fit for purpose. this car is clearly unfit for purpose.
ilove, I haven't read all this thread or your posts as I have to log off now, so sorry if this has been said..

Goggle your cars problem. I was told I needed a new engine £800 for a second hand one without labour........., I fished about on the net and discovered it could be fixed and with parts and labour £150..

So have a good goggle and you'll find forums with people who've had your problem...............ignore me if this has been said :)

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