When David Heath bought his 57-plate approved-used Mercedes S-Class back in 2008 from Mercedes-Benz Bristol, he was happy that he’d got a good deal on one of the best luxury cars on the market. He and his wife had enjoyed three previous Mercs without incident, so he was confident the good times would continue.
It was only after three years of good motoring that David’s problems began; he noticed signs of rust forming on the driver’s door. On closer inspection, it became apparent that the paintwork on the front bumper was inconsistent with the rest of the car.
Afraid the car had been involved in an accident before he bought it, David contacted his dealer. Initially he was accused of having the car resprayed himself, but further research revealed the car had been resprayed by a Manchester branch earlier in its life. In any case, said the dealer, David’s S-Class had been through the Mercedes-Benz approved-used multi-check system and signed off as being perfectly roadworthy. The upshot was that the problem was not covered by warranty, and if David wanted a repair, he’d have to pay for it himself. As the rust spread, David spent the next 12 months wrangling with Mercedes HQ, writing countless letters and getting nowhere. He’d taken his problem to the top of the corporation and Mercedes-Benz Germany had been sent photographs of the rust, but refused to accept that it was due to a faulty manufacturing process.
Eventually, with all four doors now blighted by rust, and worried that he would be left with a dramatically devalued car, David contacted Helpdesk.
‘I am stuck with a car with four rusting doors that I can’t possibly sell,’ he said.
We contacted Mercedes-Benz UK and David’s dealer to find out why an approved-used S-Class that had been through multiple checks had been allowed to leave the showroom in this condition. Considering the amount of time David’s claim had taken, the hassle it had caused and David’s loyalty to the brand, we were confident Mercedes would be keen to keep his business.
Mercedes-Benz UK arranged for further inspections to be carried out and further photos sent to Germany. It was agreed that the car’s condition was unacceptable, and David was offered a complete respray and bodywork correction to the manufacturer’s standard free of charge, which he accepted.
‘Mercedes did an excellent job,’ said David. ‘The car looked superb.’
With the work carried out to his satisfaction, David decided to sell the S-Class privately. Helpdesk was able to help him there, too, providing David with an up-to-the-minute free What Car? valuation based on his car’s age and now-perfect condition.
‘We have found it quite easy to manage without a second car for some time now,’ he said.
What if this happens to you?
- Check a used car’s bodywork very carefully. If you’re not sure, take along an expert whose advice you trust.
- Rust is expensive to fix. It shouldn’t be present on used cars less than around 10 years old, and if it is, reject it.
- Inspect paint in good light. Crouch down and look across the panels; if any look mottled or different from the rest, they may have been resprayed.
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