Michael Aston’s Volkswagen Polo lurched to a halt when the balance shaft chain snapped, resulting in damage to the crankshaft. The car was just out of warranty, so he had it towed to a local independent mechanic.
Michael is a driving instructor, and his car is his livelihood, so his garage duly ordered a replacement balance shaft chain, crankshaft and other associated parts from the nearest main VW dealer, Pulman Volkswagen in Durham.
Nine months later the Polo broke down again – once again, the balance shaft chain was found to be at fault. The chain was still under warranty, however, so Michael called Pulman VW, which told him it would be a waste of his money to diagnose the car because the Polo’s balance shaft chain never fails.
Not knowing what else to do, Michael paid an expert from independent inspection firm DEKRA to look at the Polo. ‘The failure is premature and the result of mechanical breakdown or material failure,’ the engineer’s report stated.
However, an inspection by Benfield Volkswagen in Newcastle disputed DEKRA’s findings.
Michael turned to Helpdesk. We asked for VW’s technicians to inspect the car and the part to verify that it was indeed at fault. VW offered to send its technicians to inspect the car at the garage. Unfortunately, this third inspection was inconclusive, since the part had mysteriously disappeared from the Polo’s boot. Without it, VW was unable to confirm DEKRA’s findings.
However, recognising Michael’s predicament, VW offered him a choice of options: three months of hire car charges amounting to £1600, the cost of DEKRA’s inspection as well as the cost of recovering the Polo to its dealerships; a new engine worth around £4000; or £3000 off the purchase price of a new Volkswagen.
Despite our advice, Michael declined all these offers, believing them to be ‘miserly’ in comparison with his losses. His Polo is still off the road and he is now considering legal action.
What if this happens to you?
- Keep all parts and labour invoices, as well as any invoices regarding ongoing related costs you incur.
- Never let a part you believe to be faulty out of your sight. Ask to be present at all inspections of the car and parts if they are no longer connected to your car.
We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.
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