What are our rights regarding Mini with blown engine? 

A reader’s Mini has suffered £4000 worth of engine damage. His father asks what rights he has regarding assistance with the cost of repairs...

Mini Cooper

My son works for South East Ambulance and owns a 65-plate Mini Cooper. He’s the second owner from new and the car has done 30,000 miles and has full BMW service history. 

The car recently broke down and was recovered by the RAC, with the mechanic telling us that the engine has blown and that it could cost £4000 to get it fixed. 

My son called the BMW customer care line and was told that a diagnostic test would need to be carried out on the car by a BMW dealership, at a cost of £160, before any decision could be made on a contribution to the cost of repairs. 

Where does my son stand with regard to consumer protection law? Surely a car that’s failed when it’s not even five years old and has covered just 30,000 miles can’t be of satisfactory quality? 

Simon Saunders

What Car? says…

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 might be helpful, although how much it can help depends on how long your son has owned the car and where he bought it. If he's owned it for less than six months and bought it from a dealer, he is entitled to take it back, either to be repaired, or returned with a partial refund of what he paid minus a reasonable deduction for the mileage he’s done and use he’s had from the car. If he has owned it for more than six months, he can still return it, but the onus is on him to prove it had a fault when it was sold to him.  

It is worthwhile paying for the diagnostic test, because this will reveal what's actually gone wrong, and if it is a manufacturing defect, BMW should provide some assistance with the cost of repairs. 

When cars are out of manufacturer's warranty but suffer a fault like this, the car maker often makes a goodwill gesture, which will sometimes cover around half the cost of parts and possibly labour, although not always the latter. However, when cars have full service history and low mileage, the contribution can be larger than this.

Although goodwill gestures are optional, we’d be surprised if BMW isn’t helpful in this case, because the engine on a five-year-old car shouldn't have failed. 

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The small car market is one of the most fiercely contested, which is great news if you're after this sort of vehicle, because it means there are stacks of models to choose from and standards are incredibly high.

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