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Who has What Car? helped this month?

Readers contact our helpdesk every day with questions and appeals for help with car-related problems. Here are their stories

Words ByClaire Evans

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Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20's air conditioning fixed for free

Hyundai steps in after dealer's bad work voids warranty

In 2016, my 2012 Hyundai i20 developed an issue with its air conditioning, so I took it to my local Hyundai dealer, J&J Motors in Swansea, which fixed it under warranty.

However, the fault reoccurred this June, so I contacted J&J Motors again, but was told that it was no longer a Hyundai dealer. I then went to Hutchings Hyundai, also in Swansea. Upon inspection, Hutchings told me that the initial repair had been carried out incorrectly, invalidating my car’s manufacturer warranty.

The issue was caused by a split in a flexible hose that connects the air conditioning unit to the air vents. Instead of replacing the hose, J&J had glued it back together. I’m now being asked to pay Β£344.50 to have my car repaired.

I contacted Hyundai UK Customer Services and was told that as this is a workmanship issue rather than a manufacturing defect, my warranty doesn’t cover the cost of the repair.

I then emailed Hyundai UK’s CEO. His reply offered to cover the cost of the part as a goodwill gesture, but not the Β£90 for labour. This seems very unfair; the work was done by a franchised dealer, so surely Hyundai is responsible for the standard of workmanship.

Philip Ayres

What Car? says…

We agree that manufacturers should be responsible for the work of their franchised repair centres, so we contacted Hyundai to see if it would cover the cost of both the parts and the labour.

We received this response: β€œThe dealership that carried out the original repair is no longer a Hyundai dealership, so we are unable to investigate the situation further. Hyundai UK will therefore pay for this repair in full.”

Although it took longer than it should have to get the repairs done under warranty, this is a good result for Mr Ayres, whose car has now been fully fixed for free.

A wheel dilemma

Will smaller alloys reduce road noise?

I’m considering buying a new Volkswagen Golf. I’ve tried the Golf GTI hot hatch and the regular 1.5 TSI in sporty R-Line trim, both on 18in alloy wheels. While I found the Golf very good in most respects, it makes far more road noise than my Toyota Avensis, which has 17in wheels. Would the Golf be quieter if I specified it with 17in wheels?

Shirley Burns

What Car? says…

We doubt that smaller alloys would have much of an effect. Road noise is more to do with the width of a car’s tyres than the diameter of its wheels, because the wider the tyre is, the more rubber there is in contact with the road.

The Golf GTI’s standard 18in wheels are fitted with tyres that are 225mm wide, as are the Golf R-Line’s standard 17in and optional 18in wheels.

We’d point you toward the 1.5 TSI Golf in our recommended SE Navigation trim. This comes with 16in wheels and 205mm-wide tyres, so it should be quieter and slightly softer-riding.

Post-order price hike

Price rise pushes BMW into luxury car tax bracket

In June 2017, I placed an order for a new BMW 5 Series 520d SE. Both the franchised dealer and I worked hard to ensure that the car’s list price didn’t exceed Β£40,000, because I wasn’t prepared to pay the supplementary Β£310 per year in VED (road tax) that a car costing more than this amount is now liable for.

So imagine my dismay at being advised in September, when my car was on its way to the dealership, that a BMW price increase had tipped it over the Β£40,000 mark. Although the dealership has agreed to honour the original price, it appears to be stalling on the matter of VED. I was planning to keep the car for at least five years, so this extra cost will be substantial.

Negotiations are not as yet at stalemate, but I would welcome your advice on this situation.

Geoff Feltbower

What Car? says…

Changes to the cost of VED introduced earlier this year mean that any petrol or diesel car with a list price (including optional extras but not on-the-road costs) of more than Β£40,000 is liable for the annual VED charge of Β£140 plus a premium of Β£310 a year for years two to six. Therefore, if Mr Feltbower keeps his 5 Series for five years, a list price of more than Β£40,000 will cost him an extra Β£1240 in VED.

Although manufacturers’ prices do change and often increase once or twice per year, we think it’s unfair for Mr Feltbower to have to foot this bill. Because he is buying from a BMW main dealer, which is signed up to the codes of conduct set up by The Motor Ombudsman, we asked the government-backed regulatory body to tell us how it believes the dealership should deal with this situation.

The Ombudsman pointed out that Mr Feltbower could have had the same issue if he’d ordered from another BMW dealership, because the lead times would have been the same. It also commented: β€œMost, but not all, car sales contracts will include a provision that price is subject to change, so it might be worth Mr Feltbower reading his through in detail to see if there are any such provisions.

β€œHowever, at the point of sale, Mr Feltbower was given the correct information and the sale met his needs. We are therefore not sure that there would be an entitlement to claim back the cost of the additional road tax, unless perhaps there was an unreasonable or avoidable delay on the dealer’s side in ordering and/or delivering the car.

β€œHowever, the dealer might want to offer something in the interests of customer service, and it might be worth Mr Feltbower contacting BMW itself to see if there’s anything it would be willing to do.”

We forwarded this advice to Mr Feltbower, who has since replied: β€œNegotiations have now concluded, with the dealership agreeing to pay for the extra Β£310 VED charge for four years as well as keeping to the originally agreed price.”

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