The used car I bought has a clutch problem that the dealer is reluctant to fix. What are my rights?

clutch problem

The car with the clutch problem is a five-year old Volkswagen Golf. The dealer is more than 40 miles from the owner’s home and says the buyer may have to pay if the warranty doesn’t cover the rectification work. The current owner has had the car for less than six months and it does have a one-year VW warranty. The dealer is reluctant to offer a courtesy car as well.

Check the warranty terms

Warranties on used cars vary greatly in what they cover. Some are the classic ‘promise the world with the large print, take it all away in the small’. Others are more comprehensive. In this case, the Das WeltAuto cover seems pretty good. It does say that ‘clutch frictional materials’ aren’t covered. This is so it doesn’t have to pay out for worn clutch plates. However, it says the rest should fall under the warranty.

Is this a warranty issue?

That said, we don’t think this should be dealt with by the warranty. The law says used cars have to come up to certain standards when they’re sold. If they don’t the dealer should fix them.

What does the law say?

In 2015, the Consumer Rights Act came into force. It says that when the car was sold it should be of a satisfactory quality (taking into account its age and mileage), fit for purpose and as described. It gives you the right to reject the car if you find a problem with it in the first 30 days of ownership.

If you alert the (trade) seller to the problem, they should accept there was a problem when the vehicle was sold. If they don’t accept there was a problem when the vehicle was sold, they have to prove this.

clutch problem
It doesn’t matter how old a used car is, it should be fit for purpose when you buy it (Picture©Vauxhall)

What to do?

The Consumer Rights Act was put in place to protect both consumer and trader. The consumer must give the trader the opportunity to rectify the problem. To do this, contact the dealer and ask them to sort the problem. Try to keep a record of what’s said.

The problem with this case is that there’s a warranty claim involved. The dealer wants the buyer to claim on the warranty to rectify the clutch problem. The buyer claims the trouble has been present since they’ve had the car.

Our advice

Clearly, a car that suffers clutch trouble isn’t fit for purpose. And as the problem has been present from the second week of the buyer having the car, the dealer should accept the clutch problem was present when they sold the car. The owner needs to get the dealer to understand that this is a faulty used car issue. It is not something that has to be rectified under warranty.

The buyer should explain this to them as politely as possible. As the seller is a franchised VW dealer, perhaps try ringing VW customer services and asking them to mediate.

If you’re suffering similar trouble and in doubt about your rights or where you stand, perhaps try this handy web tool from Citizens Advice.