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Warren Steel sends Happy New Year message to clients

Warren Steel sends Happy New Year message to clients

While applauding the recent decision taken by the New Zealand Motor Vehicles Disputes Tribunal in awarding $28,000 refund to a Christchurch woman after finding major faults in her Audi A6 deliberately covered up, Warren Steel, spokesperson for Auto Shine Car Care Products Ltd and sister concern Shyn4U alerted clients in a New Year celebration program about checking flawed safety features in cars prior to purchasing the vehicle.

 Incidentally, the defects were discovered during a warrant of fitness check in August 2017, almost a year after Joanna Fisher purchased the vehicle from Chris Bird Motor Company. However, the tribunal accepted that the car company’s managing director, Chris Bird was not aware of the defects when he had sold the car to Joanna Fisher. 

 However, a year after purchasing the Audi, Fisher found out that the car’s seatbelts did not lock, a requirement for all contemporary cars, when vehicle was braking. Since the car failed its warrant on account of this, another Christchurch motor company Archibalds was entrusted to rectify the fault. Surprisingly enough, while the seatbelts were being replaced, Archibalds discovered ‘sophisticated’ cover up of faults – the front air bags were also faulty. What’s more, the dashboard alarm lights were also disconnected to cover up the faults. No wonder, commented Warren that the tribunal has remarked in an unambiguous way, saying that “the vehicle’s wiring had been altered to mask these faults”.

Resuming after the coffee break, Warren gave a briefing about how to buy a car, especially about knowing your rights and privileges when buying a car. “Take the help of Motor Vehicles Disputes Tribunal, whenever you are in a jam and do not know what to do,” he argued. The Tribunal, which is a specialist body set up to handle car complaints dealt with 342 cases last year, which is almost a 33% rise from 2015, while its case notes expose archetypal issues that consumers face when dealers think they do not have any liability for vehicles that aren’t of acceptable quality.                                         

In a recent case, a Hamilton couple bought a second-hand Mazda CX-5 for $23,000 from an Auckland dealership. Five months later, they were on a road trip when they noticed coolant leaking from the engine.

They took their car to a roadside mechanic who suspected head gasket problems and warned them not to drive the vehicle. The couple had to pay for the car to be shipped home and got it assessed by their local expert. The outcome was that the engine needed to be replaced at a cost of up to $12,200. The Auckland dealer who sold them the car refused to listen to their problem, claiming it had no liability.

However, the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal opposed when the case came up for hearing. It found the $23,000 car wasn't of acceptable quality under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and ordered the dealer to refund the purchase price, pay consequential losses and arrange for the vehicle to be collected.

If you buy a new or second-hand car from a dealer, you have rights under both the CGA and Fair Trading Act (FTA). In fact, the CGA obliges dealers to certify that their vehicles are of acceptable quality and fit for purpose (given their age and sale price).

If it is a minor issue, the dealer can choose between fixing the car, replacing it, or taking it back and giving you the refund. If the dealer can't or won't fix the problem within a reasonable time, you can ask your money back.

If, on the other hand, it is a serious problem, you are entitled to choose whether the dealer replaces the vehicle, or takes it back and gives you full refund.

According to law, you can also claim for losses that occur because of the fault. For instance, you can claim towing costs if your broken-down car needs to be shipped home.

The FTA as well prohibits dealers from making deceptive claims about their vehicles. For instance, a dealer can't advertise a car with "low mileage," even if it has done enough kilometers, covering the length and breadth of the island country twice over.

If a dealer refuses to budge, even after it has been proved that the car it has sold to you has serious mechanical fault that may require substantial amount of money to fix up, go ahead and lodge a claim with the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal straight away. It can hear claims up to $100,000 (or more if both parties agree) and order the dealer to remedy the problem if it has been proved that the dealer is at fault.

In case you need more information about how to buy a buy a car legitimately and without any hassle, you can always seek help from Warren Steel, who is a living legend about cars in the land of the Kiwis.

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