Samrt Consumer: Am I entitled to a new car if my own keeps breaking down?
Published 17/03/2011 | 05:00
Q David contacted Smart Consumer as he says: "I'm at my wit's end with BMW."
He writes: "In 2008 I bought a brand new 08 BMW, as it was my wife's wish to have such a vehicle before she hit 40.
"Since January 2008, the car has broken down five or six times. I've lost count.
"The reason has been the same problem each time, and the BMW garage has admitted that it is their fault."
David's car broke down again two weeks ago and the company told him to send it back to them and they would fix it.
"Now, I can't fault the garage on this," says David, "as the car is outside warranty, but because they know that there is a fault with this particular part of the car they are happy to fix same, with no cost to be borne by myself.
"My problem is, where will I be when it breaks down again?
"On my way to the airport, heading for the dream holiday to Disneyland, or on the way to the Coombe.
"They cannot guarantee that it will not break down."
David asks: "Am I entitled under my consumer rights to ask for a change of vehicle?"
A The short answer is yes, David is entitled to a replacement vehicle.
Although it's an expensive purchase, purchasing a car gives you the same legal protection as when you buy a kettle or a TV.
In other words, the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, provides that the product must be fit for purpose and as described.
Under the same Act it is also an offence to sell a car that is not roadworthy.
When it comes to cars breaking down, the manufacturer is usually happy to repair under warranty or extend that care at their discretion. But don't forget that even if you never had a manufacturer's warranty, your consumer rights still apply.
David's car has a fault and has been repaired many times to no avail, so the next step is to request a replacement.
The garage where David bought the car is obliged to rectify the situation.
If they refuse, write a letter of complaint to them and if that doesn't work, you can use the dispute resolution process of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, assuming the garage is a member.