Q Smart Consumer receives quite a few queries relating to car complaints. Due to the mechanics of a car, they can be difficult to resolve.
One such email came from Clare, who is at the end of her tether due to problems with a new 4x4 she bought five years ago.
"From the moment we bought it," writes Clare, "we had engine failure, faulty battery, gear problems etc.
"We have two reports from a technical engineer and assessor," she continues "and on both reports he has stated that the vehicle is unsafe to drive."
Despite this, the situation was not resolved by the garage. Clare hired a solicitor and sought to go to court but due to stalling on the garage's part this never happened. Her case is now going to arbitration, although the garage has not yet signed the relevant forms for that.
"We feel that we have been treated unfairly and that we bought a 4x4 and it did not do what it was supposed to do," writes Clare. "Every day when I load myself, my children and partner into this 4x4, I have this fear that we may not return home together as a family."
A The sense of distress that Clare has at this ongoing situation is palpable and she should not be in this stressful situation five years after purchase.
When you buy a vehicle it should be as described; fit for purpose; of merchantable quality; and also roadworthy.
If there is a defect, the garage where the car was purchased is then liable to provide a remedy.
This all comes under your statutory rights as per the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980.
But in practice, when it comes to car complaints, garages usually refer their customers to the manufacturer and their manufacturer's warranty, should there be one. If the warranty can be used to sort matters, that's great.
However, if not (or if there is no warranty), the legal obligations still lie with the garage.
For unresolved complaints, if the garage is a member of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), they have a complaints process that you can use and it's free of charge.
In addition SIMI also run an arbitration process for car complaints (operated by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Irish Branch).
This will cost €157.30, but it's a legally binding process where the outcome is binding on both parties.
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