Car yard not liable for car fix fail

Last updated 12:44 19/11/2012

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A woman who got her car repaired independently after the yard she bought it from failed to fix it will not be reimbursed.

According to a recent Motor Vehicles Disputes Tribunal decision, Jane Deborah Hamilton bought a 2005 Audi A4 cabriolet from Vision Auto Sales Limited for $34,995 on July 24, 2010, along with a 36-month breakdown warranty.

Hamilton told the tribunal within two weeks of use the car's gear indicator light would flash on the instrument panel and sometimes it would drop out of gear, causing the engine to rev.

She returned the vehicle to the New Lynn car yard and claims she was initially told the issues were minor and that the service manager hadn't attempted to fix them.

In October 2010, after travelling more than 5000km in the Audi, Hamilton again returned it, citing the same faults.

The transmission electronic control unit was then sent for repair, but on December 6 Hamilton returned it for a third time saying nothing had changed.

The control unit was again sent away for repair.

Within a month of getting the car back Hamilton said the faults recurred and, because she'd become ''exasperated'' with the car yard's service manager, she decided to get it fixed elsewhere.

According to the tribunal decision, Hamilton took the Audi to Mowbray Motors in February 2011, but after being quoted $2000 to $4000 to repair it, she decided she couldn't afford to and continued driving the car. On March 16 European Auto Centre serviced the vehicle for Hamilton and reset the control unit.

Four months later they scanned the control unit and after finding faults, replaced the transmission inhibitor switch and the transmission oil. Their invoice noted Hamilton's car needed its onboard computer reprogrammed and estimated the work would cost $3700.

In May the transmission stopped the vehicle from working and Hamilton got Mowbray Motors to repair it at a cost of $4025.

The following month she asked Vision Auto Sales Limited to reimburse her.

They declined saying they were ''not prepared to pay for repairs done by others''. Further, they told the tribunal, they would have fixed the fault themselves and were not given the opportunity to discuss the issues and costs of remedying them with Mowbray Motors.

The tribunal found, in rejecting Hamilton's claim, that she was entitled to return the vehicle in January 2011, but had not done so, nor had she, at that time, elected for someone else to repair it.

''The purchaser elected to continue to drive the vehicle for a further 18 months and 22,471kms. The tribunal considers that after 18 months and such a distance travelled in the vehicle the purchaser had a renewed obligation to go back to the trader.''

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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