Complaints Against Motor Traders

13.5.0.L2 Updated on:27 January 2022

When you have a complaint you, should first go back to the dealer where you bought the goods from. You need to give the dealer or garage in question the time and chance to put matters right.

If the complaint is about a manufacturer’s warranty or is against a dealer where the problem is the manufacturer’s warranty, the address to write to is:

The Legal Department,
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders,
71 Great Peter Street,
London
SW1P 2BN

Website:www.smmt.co.uk
Tel: +44 20 7235 7000

If the complaint is about a dealer or garage who is a member of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation (JMTF) and it is not about the warranty, the address to write to is:

The Complaints and Arbitration Panel,
Jersey Motor Trades Federation,
26 Halkett Street,
St Helier

Tel: +44 7797 721 275
Website: www.jmtf.je

The JMTF will not want to be involved until you have given the dealer or garage the chance to put matters right. For a list of members see here.

Warranties

If your complaint is about a warranty, you need to read the warranty carefully and be clear about what is covered and what is not. When you buy a second-hand vehicle, some parts are normally not covered by warranty. Do not go to the JMTF until you have checked that you are covered.

Some salesmen make it sound that a warranty covers more than it does. If you can prove what was said, you should be covered but the problem is in proving it.

Who does the work?

When buying a new or used car, be aware that who you are buying from may not be the person who will put things right if they go wrong. Many car salespeople contract out their repair work to others. Often showrooms have no workshop for doing repairs. You should check your warranty carefully and ask.

Any mechanical problem which happens after you have bought the vehicle should be covered by the terms of the warranty, including parts and labour, so long as the warranty has not expired. Normal wear and tear, e.g. of silencers, tyres etc. are not covered and neither are things which you should have known about when you bought the vehicle. It is up to you to check and ask questions.

Can the owner choose who repairs the vehicle?

If you are not happy with the standard of the repair offered under a warranty and want to take the vehicle to another mechanic or garage, this is not usually possible.

If you are not happy with the quality of the repair, it could be helpful to get a second opinion on the condition of the vehicle from an independent engineer. Any paperwork such as quotes etc. could be useful in trying to get compensation in the future, perhaps through the Petty Debts Court.

Time Limits

A warranty or guarantee will only last a certain time. Any repair work on the vehicle which started before the expiry of the warranty should be finished. However, it might be that parts have been ordered or are being waited for.

Real problems can arise when a major problem has been going on for a long time and has not been fixed by the date the warranty or guarantee runs out. The owner of the vehicle may say that the condition of the vehicle is not acceptable despite a lot of work having been done when the time runs out.

Trading Standards say that the warranty period should be made longer if the fault has not been suitably repaired by the end of the warranty period.

Problems that continue

If you got a second opinion and reported your complaint before the end of the warranty period to Trading Standards or the Jersey Motor Trades Federation, it is more likely that you will be successful in claiming for any expenses in putting things right.

You should tell the garage carrying out the work under the warranty in writing that unless the work is completed to a satisfactory standard, the job will be given to another garage and the bill sent to them. A copy of the letter should be kept.

If the vehicle is not repaired satisfactorily, you will have to have the work done by another garage and may have to go to the Petty Debts Court to recover the cost. It will depend on the evidence given by both sides as to what the court decides is fair. Things that will be considered are the work done and the condition of the vehicle.

It is quite likely that a garage in this situation would defend the action in order to protect their reputation, so legal costs could be added to any court costs should you lose.

Purchase of defective vehicle

If the complaint is about buying a second-hand vehicle with problems see here.

Protection for buyers of a motor vehicle on finance

If a vehicle is bought with Hire Purchase, the vehicle belongs to the finance company until the very last payment is made. If someone tried to sell you a vehicle like this they would be selling something they did not own.

If you bought the vehicle from someone without knowing it was owned by the finance company, you would have protection under the Supply of Goods and Services [Jersey] Law 2009. This law gives protection to buyers who buy vehicles that are subject to a Hire Purchase or conditional sale agreement without knowing.  Ownership of the vehicle would pass legally to you and the finance company would have to get any money owed from the person who took out the loan.