Smart Consumer: Does the garage have any obligation if my car warranty is up?
Following on from Smart Consumer on car complaints a few weeks ago, the queries keep on coming.
Paul Corless emailed with a question regarding a second-hand car purchased from a main dealer garage and with a six-month warranty.
He writes: "Over the last few months we have noticed a strange noise when starting in frosty mornings. On the two occasions we have left it in to the garage the following morning it was not below freezing and so they did not witness the noise occurring.
"They were helpful and when we were collecting the car they said that they had noted the problem on their computer and if it happens again to bring it in. Now that the weather is getting milder the chances of them hearing it until next winter are very slim. When I mentioned this, they said that they could not be sure if it would happen again at that stage.
"However, my concern is that the warranty will be out in just under two months and I am wondering if there will be any obligation on their part in 12 months' time if it occurs again?"
When it comes to remedying car vaults, the manufacturer's warranty appears to be king, and once this has expired you will be asked to pay for any repairs.
The terms of the warranty are between you and the manufacturer and once the warranty is up they no longer have an obligation to you. But some do offer goodwill and provide additional service after the warranty period has expired.
However, a warranty is in addition to your statutory rights, and the obligation to remedy under your rights lies with the seller. This means that even if your warranty is up, your consumer rights still stand.
The difficulty is in proving that there is a fault with the car, rather than wear and tear, as it is only for a fault or incorrect description that the seller is liable.
With a second-hand car you'll also have to take into account the condition of the car when you bought it, and wear and tear that is to be expected related to the age and use of the car.
If this noise occurs again when your warranty is no longer valid, the question to ask is: is this a defect that I wasn't told about at point of sale and one that reasonably shouldn't be expected to occur?
If the answer is yes, you may have a claim under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. If, after complaining you get nowhere, you can turn to the small claims court or the disputes service provided by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry if the garage where you purchased the car is a member.