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NSW Engine Problems on New Car - Recourse Under Australian Consumer Law?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by JLT, 30 June 2016.

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  1. JLT

    JLT Member

    30 June 2016
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    We purchased a brand new car in Jan 2016 from a dealer. The car's rrp and on-road cost were upwards of $78,000. The car is now 23 weeks old and has just over 10,000kms. To date the car has been off-road for various faults for well over 7 weeks and will not be returned for at least another week, so up until this point, a third of its life.

    It's had several minor faults including reverse camera failure, air conditioning failure, tailgate refusing to close and therefore, the car was not lockable - in total these faults kept the car off-road for roughly 6 days. The service centre scratched it twice, so had another 2 days off-road for those. I am well aware that those are all minor problems, and the dealer was willing to repair all, and within what I agree is a doable timeframe.

    However, the biggest issue is now it is having engine issues, which make up the majority of the time it has been off road (6 weeks to date and we were just informed it will be at least another week). They are very hesitant to provide us with information as to exactly what's wrong (I have called and emailed 3 times now asking for an explanation and they are very short on details).

    It initially went in because there was an intense burning smell from the engine (so bad our neighbour who shares a garage was worried we had a gas leak in the garage until I explained that it was actually my vehicle emitting the smell). The service centre attached to the dealer informed us this was due to a split inter cooler pipe which is a part of the turbo system. 2 weeks later, they gave the car back and let me know that the burning smell would remain for a few days as the leaked oil and residue from the split pipe would need to burn off.

    After 2 weeks back on the road, the burning remained and so I called the centre again. They said it was normal and we should put up with it as it could be at least a few more weeks. By this point, the burning smell was giving me headaches and making me feel ill (think I'm exaggerating? I drive at least 2-3 hours each day. Imagine sniffing burning engine oil and coolant for that long... Yep, you'd probably feel ill too).

    I called the manufacturer to get another opinion on whether this was normal and acceptable and they were incredibly dismissive, so I went back to the service centre and made it clear that it's not acceptable for my car to make me ill. They reluctantly agreed for me to bring it in again. That was 5 weeks ago and so far over that period we have been told that it is various issues, but I'm beginning to doubt they know what's wrong at all.

    We have been told that it's the breather system, with sand and dirt getting through that system. We have been told that it's gear oil escaping where it shouldn't and landing on the diff. We have been told that a part was ordered from overseas, but that the part itself had a fault so they needed to order a new part again. We have been told that the needed part will take 2 weeks to arrive, but then told it will take 2.5 months to arrive, but then told it will arrive the next day. 3 times we have been told the car can be picked up, only to be told later that it will be another few days or week.

    Throughout the engine issues, they insist that it's just minor issues, and my guess is they use that particular word - minor - as that's the language the law uses to determine refund and replacement rights.

    We have been provided with courtesy vehicles throughout all of the times our car has been off-road, and while I am appreciative of that, we don't own those cars, we own the one that's having huge amounts of issues and that's the one we are paying off and that's the one we are left with at the end of the day.

    We are at the point where we want a refund or failing that a replacement at the very least. We traded in an 8-year-old car and an 11-year-old car when we purchased this vehicle with the intent of firstly being in a newer and more reliable car, and secondly to be in a much nicer vehicle that we enjoyed driving. Not only has our car failed on both counts, we've actually had to cancel travel plans and rearrange our lives around trying to reach a resolution.

    The car we bought is a SUV and we had planned an off-roading holiday that had to be cancelled since the courtesy vehicle we currently have is a 2wd that cannot be taken off road.

    So here's my question: from my description of the engine issues, would we have a case to pursue further action under Australian Consumer Law? And if so, what should that action be?

    While the dealer is terming the engine issues as "minor", my argument is how can a minor fault possibly keep the car off the road for 6 weeks and counting? Does Australian Consumer Law have any time factors at all when it comes to determining minor and major faults, or is it all based in vague language that can be very easily twisted by dealerships?

    I appreciate any guidance you can give.


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