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 latest stories...

Mini JCW

Concern over used Mini’s repaired wheels

I’ve just agreed to buy a 2013 Mini Clubman JCW from a used car dealer in Bristol. By chance, I have also just been in touch with the previous owner, who said I should be aware that he found out when he bought the car in May 2016 that the inner rims of the nearside front and rear alloy wheels had been welded. 

This is not information I had been told by the dealer, even though over a couple of conversations I did ask if there was anything I should know about the car.

I haven’t been able to see the welds yet, but I’ve booked the car in for a health check with a Mini dealership once I take delivery of it to give it a once-over. I’ve also asked them to check that the wheels are safe and provide me with a professional report on them.

Mini JCW wheel

I don’t feel comfortable that the two wheels have been welded, especially as I don’t have any evidence to say how well they’ve been repaired. Furthermore, I’m soon going to become a father and don’t want to drive my child and partner around in a car with wheels that could have a weakness.

The car is being sold with three months’ warranty; will that cover me if anything does go wrong? 

Coincidentally, the car I’m trading in has the same factory alloy wheels, so as a back-up, do you think I could ask for two wheels from my car to be swapped with the welded ones? 

Before I take delivery of the car, I would appreciate any advice you can give me on where I stand, what I should do and what the dealer should do.

Dean Costanza

What Car? says…

We agree that you should be concerned about buying a car with two welded wheels if you don’t know how well the work has been done. We’d suggest you contact the dealer and ask if there is any paperwork relating to the wheels so you can find out which company carried out the work. 

If it’s been done by an expert repair company, the wheels should be fine. However, if it hasn’t, there could be problems with stress cracks occurring on the wheel and the tyres could deflate. 

Although the car is being sold with a warranty, it’s unlikely to cover the cost of replacement wheels or tyres, because they’re usually viewed as ‘wear and tear’ items. Therefore, we’d advise you to get the wheels examined or at least find out how well they’ve been repaired before you take delivery of the car. Your suggestion of swapping the wheels from your current car is one possible solution if you’re not happy with the standard of work or extent of damage on the welded alloys. 

You do have the protection of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which allows you to reject any car in the first 30 days if it’s not of satisfactory quality. So if you encounter problems relating to the wheels in this time, you’ll be entitled to a full refund.

2018 Volkswagen Amarok 3.0-litre V6 front

What’s the speed limit for a pick-up? 

I’m thinking of buying a pick-up truck through my company, and the Volkswagen Amarok is on my list.

I have read all the recent reviews and road tests available, including your November 2018 mega-test. I also came across an article on their classification as light commercial vehicles. The article stated that if a vehicle weighs more than 2040kg, it will legally be restricted to 60mph on dual carriageways and 50mph on single carriageways with the national speed limit. If this is still the case, a great number of pick-up owners are exceeding the speed limit on a regular basis, either knowingly or not.

Could you please help to clarify this point, and if it’s true, could you make a point of stating this in any future tests?

Steve James

What Car? says…

The article you read is correct: pick-ups are generally classed as dual-purpose vehicles and if they weigh less than 2040kg unladen, they must obey the same speed limits as cars and car-derived vans within the weight limit. 

However, all light commercial and dual-purpose vehicles, and car-derived vehicles weighing more than 2040kg unladen, must stick to 60mph on dual carriageways and 50mph on single carriageways. The same speed limits as those for cars apply on urban streets and motorways.

2015 Honda CR-V face-lift - prices, specs and on-sale date

Dog owner in search of a tall-booted car

I need a car with a decent-sized boot, because I have two large dogs who need space to sit comfortably back there. The thing that’s most important is the height of the boot from the floor to the roof, but I can’t find this measurement in any of your tests. 

At the moment, my shortlist of cars includes the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, Citroën Grand C4 Picasso, Honda CR-V and Renault Grand Scenic. I’ve read the reviews and all of the cars sound pretty good, but I still don’t have a clue about the height of their boots. If you have this information for these cars, please could you let me know.

James Drury

What Car? says…

We do measure to the top of the boot openings in our comparisons, although our measurements are more a guide to tell people how much luggage each car will take – and car boots should only be loaded up to the parcel shelf for safety reasons. 

The cars on your list are all similar for boot height: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 989mm, Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 990mm, Honda CR-V 1015mm, Renault Grand Scenic 975mm.

We’ve also produced an online guide and video on the best cars for dog owners

Mercedes AMG GT

Refund dispute over rattly AMG

I have a Mercedes-AMG GT S, which I took delivery of new in September 2017. I started to notice rattles around two weeks into owning it. However, I didn’t contact the dealer about this issue until after I’d had the car for around 40 days. 

The car went in to be fixed three times, but the rattles couldn’t be rectified and the dealer refused to accept my rejection of the car. So I was forced to get independent reports stating that the car was of unsatisfactory quality. 

Now, more than a year later, Mercedes has finally taken the car back and accepted my rejection of it. I have been given my deposit back, but I’ve been told that they want to deduct fair usage from the £25,000 in payments I’ve made for the car. I’ve been told that I won’t get any of this money back. So, my first question is: what is fair usage?  

Because I have reports stating that the car was faulty from the factory, will I be entitled to a refund on that basis?

Mark Pullen

What Car? says…

Fair usage is an amount that can be deducted from the refund for a car that has been owned for more than 30 days. To work it out the amount of use you’ve had from the car, Mercedes’ finance department will consider the age of the car and its mileage. There is no official guidance on how much you should be charged for fair usage, but you should be able to negotiate on this with Mercedes. 

To obtain the car’s current value, you can do an online valuation at whatcar.com/car-valuation. You can use this to assess if the amount of fair usage you’re being asked for is too big.  

With regard to your second question, we think you definitely should argue that the car was faulty from new and use the evidence you have to back this up. Although this won’t necessarily entitle you to a larger or full refund, a judge might rule in your favour if the case goes to court.

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