Staff Blog – 04/01/2018

I have bought a Used Car that’s gone wrong – what are my rights?

by David Alvarez


Introduction

In my opinion, the reason you would buy a car from a reputable dealer is for complete peace of mind. You should be confident that your new steed should get you from A to B. As an RAC dealer, we take great pride in preparing our cars to a high standard and that is why we adhere to the RAC 82-point preparation process religiously. (Click here to view: RAC Preparation Standard.pdf)

Now it doesn’t surprise me that some dealers do not prepare their cars properly. In their heads, the more money they spend preparing their cars – the less money they have in their pocket. (This is a bit of a short-term view in my opinion, we have many people who support our business by returning because they trust us). What does surprise me are the number of people who come to our Service and MOT Centre who are faced with big bills on cars they have recently bought from other dealers and are prepared to pay for this out of their own pocket!

Take for instance an Audi A5 we had in recently, the customer had just bought a car for £15,000 which still had a steering wheel wiring issue, non-existent brake pads and discs, a mirror stuck on with parcel tape and tyres that looked like they belonged on a F1 car. His final bill came out at £1,257.45. We advised him to go back to the supplying dealer, but he made the decision to get the work done and pay out of his own pocket. This is not an isolated case, we must see 3 or 4 cars a month that have a similar story. So, I decided to write a blog explaining just what your rights are and how to exercise them.

Disclaimer: Now this blog is made up from my personal knowledge and whilst I endeavoured to back up my obvervations, this is not intended as a legal document and there is a chance it is not 100% accurate.

 

What is the Dealer’s Obligation?

In October 2015 the Sales of Goods Act was replaced with the Consumer’s Rights Act f 2015. You can find this Act on the legislation.gov.uk website, however it is quite long. There is a section on ‘Product Quality’ so I will quickly run through that and what it means to a supplying dealer:

  • Satisfactory Quality – This basically means that a dealer must check over the car and make sure there are no faults and consumables such as tyres, brakes and fluids must be at a reasonable level or depth.
  • Fit for purpose – The car must do the job it is designed to do. As one example if you have a Volkswagen Golf quoted with a 50 mpg average fuel consumption and it is not achieving anywhere near these figures then I would argue that this is not fit for purpose.
  • As described – The vehicle must be as described. If the dealer has agreed t do something that hasn’t been done, or if they have lied about features or service history – then this is not as described. However, if you have already come and viewed the car`s condition, features and paperwork and then agreed to accept the vehicle this would then negate this right.

A big part of the dealer adhering to the Consumer’s rights Act of 2015 is making sure the car has no “Inherent Faults”. An inherent fault is a fault that was present at the time of sale. So it is up to the dealer to check the vehicle and fix any faults that are present and make sure all the consumables are within reasonable levels. At AZ Autos we change any tyre under 3mm and brakes that measure over  50% worn. (Again, there is a link to our full RAC 82-point preparation standard in the introduction).

 

What to do if you find a fault within 30 days?

If you feel that the vehicle you have purchased has a fault which was there at the time of sale (an inherent fault), you are entitled to a full refund, repair or replacement. It is your right to choose one of these options and the dealer must honour your choice. But once you have accepted an option you are contracted to it, so you cannot change your mind unless the dealer agrees.

If you choose to repair the vehicle, the repair must be of satisfactory quality. If it isn’t then you again are entitled to a refund. In either instance if you do want to return the vehicle then you must stop using it immediately in order to be entitled to a full refund.

If the fault wasn’t present at the time of sale, then this becomes a warranty issue (See ‘Mechanical Car Warranties’ section below). However, it is up to the selling dealer to prove the fault was not there at the time of sale, not for you to prove it was.

 

What to do if you find a fault within first 6 months?

If 30 days has passed but you have found a fault which you believe was present at the time of sale then you are entitled to a repair or replacement. Usually the dealer will carry out a repair as it is more cost effective. Again, the repair must be of satisfactory quality and if it isn’t then you will be entitled to a refund. A fair deduction can be made for usage, but there are not set guidelines on this and would ultimately come down to either agreement between you and the dealer or it going to court (see section ‘Who do I contact or complain to?’ below).

If the fault was not present at the time of sale then again this become a warranty issue (See ‘Mechanical Car Warranties’ section below).

 

Mechanical Car Warranties

Mechanical car warranties are designed for faults which happen after the car is sold. If a warranty company decides that the fault was there at the time of sale they will say that it was an inherent fault and will not pay out. A mechanical warranty in no way affects your legal rights. They will also not cover you for ‘wear and tear’. This is when an item wears   over time and comes to the end of it’s life, they will only cover you for parts which have suddenly failed. Common items that will wear down over time are clutches, brakes, exhausts and suspension.

The quality of a warranty cover varies dramatically   depending on the warranty company. There are plenty of warranty companies that will sell cover for £25, but this  is not worth the paper it is printed on when you come to claim on it. This is used so the dealer can advertise the fact that they are supplying a car with a warranty. They might also try and fob you off your legal right with such warranties, but legally they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

My advice would be to check the warranty document and check what items are covered and the claim limit value. Also try googling the warranty company name and see what that comes back with. People can be quite vocal about poor warranty companies, so you will soon get an idea. We partner with the RAC for our warranties. These can be used at our RAC Approved Garage or at any VAT registered garage in the UK. They are a great warranty company and live up to the trusted RAC brand. Click on this link to read more about our warranties.

Below I have prepared a flow chart so you can quickly see what your rights are:

Issue chart

 

Who Do I contact or Complain to?

This will depend on how you paid for the car.

If you paid for the car with car finance or on a credit card, then you have an extra layer of protection. You should speak to your credit card company or finance company and they will facilitate your legal rights. There will be no need to speak to the dealer at all, it will be down to the credit/finance company to sort it all out for you. If for any reason the finance/credit company are not being cooperative, then you can speak to the Financial Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will charge the finance/credit company a fee for every case brought against them, so threat of this should make them more cooperative. (http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/)

If you paid for the car out of your own savings   or with cash then you would need to speak to the dealer. Again, if they are not being cooperative then there are people to help. My advice would be to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. They are a government body similar to trading standards designed to protect consumers. They will give advice, help you with letters and legal advice. You can find them on the following website (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/).

If the dealer will still not play ball, the citizens advice bureau may advise you to take the matter to court. If the matter is up to £10,000 then this would be small claims court. This service is really quick and easy and all done online. It costs about £80 to set a case up and get the ball rolling. A lot of the time you do not even have to go to court as the dealer will usually give in. If it does go to court then you will need to attend a local magistrate court and a magistrate will make a decision there and then. If you win the dealer will need to pay your court fees also. You can find this service on the following link (https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/). If the matter is over £10,000 then you will need to take the matter to County Court. In that case you will need to get a solicitor t work on your behalf.

 

Conclusion

So, there you have it, a comprehensive blog on your rights. You must bear in mind, at the end of the day, cars are mechanical machines – so they will develop issues from time to time. But it is how the dealer conducts himself when  faced with these issues. Remember it is the dealer’s obligation to make sure that the car is of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and properly described. That is why you pay him a slight premium over buying a car privately or from an auction where you have no comeback what so ever. Maybe the next time you are buying a used car just pause for a second and think.. “If I have a problem, is this a dealer I would be happy coming back to?” If the answer is “No” – walk away. If the answer is “Yes”, then you are obviously at AZ Autos.


This month’s Staff Blog was written by David Alvarez (Company Director). Click here to find out more about David.

AZ Autos Nominated at Used Car Dealer Awards 2017

The prestigious Car Dealer Magazine Used Car Awards took place on Monday, November 27 at The Brewery in London. Once again, the evening was hosted by the legendary Mike Brewer, and Mike also chairs the judging panel, which had been shortlisting contenders. The Used Car Awards celebrates the very best businesses in the used automotive sector. This year Car Dealer Magazine received a record number of nominations and those dealers and dealerships that made it into the final line-up have already proved their standing as the best around.

AZ Autos were nominated for “Service & Repair Outlet of the Year”. Christian Knight (Service Manager) and David Alvarez (Director) travelled to London for the awards ceremony. The competition was fierce and we did not walk away with the award. However, we were ecstatic to be nominated and it truly shows what a great job that the Service team do at Whinbush Road in Hitchin. To be shortlisted as one of the 5 garages considered to be the best in the UK is a huge achievement. We will hopefully be back in 2018 to challenge for the Award.

Well done to particularly to Christian Knight and Scott Smith for all the hard work they have done over the years cementing themselves as one of the top Garages in the country.

Find out more about the awards here

Former Top Gear Presenter shoots film at AZ Autos

Former Top Gear and Fifth Gear presenter, Vicki Butler-Henderson was on a film shoot this month at AZ Autos (an independent car dealer) in Hitchin. Auto Trader commissioned the video, selecting AZ Autos as a location out of a possible 6,000 independent dealers.

The video was commissioned to show customers what it is like buying a car from a garage like AZ Autos.  As AZ Autos have won awards for their customer service and digital innovation, the makers of the film felt they would be the perfect backdrop. The video will feature on Auto Trader’s website which attract 7.8 million users and will also be pushed out on targeted social media marketing such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

“We know from our own research that some potential buyers are put off by the image of places like this,” Andy Pringle, Cars Editor at Auto Trader says “but that’s not fair. In fact, our research goes on to show that customers who buy a car from an independent dealer like this are very happy with the experience.”

The video was released on the 19th of October and can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/HcZ-pNA6HiM

Staff Blog – 13/09/2017

The Whale Tail – A Cosworth Story

by Christian Knight


1986 was the year ford introduced the whale tail on the high-performance 3 door hatchback sierra rs Cosworth , blowing the mind on the general public with this radical look! With a 2.0l 16 valve turbocharged engine, producing 204bhp, built by Cosworth. It reached  0-60 mph in 6.5 sec and a top speed of 150mph. The reason the engine was successful was the tuning capabilities with a simple upgrade chip upping the horsepower to 300 back in 1986 . At the time ford was dominating the touring car scene and the world rally championships  with the sierra Cosworth. In mark of this ford release a limit number of sierra Cosworth rs500s, named because they only made 500 of them. They were built with a bigger turbo, eight injectors and stronger engine that could be tuned to 400 bhp. It was built by aston martin tickford with a more aggressive front end and whale tail.

Later on ford release the sierra  sapphire rs Cosworth 1988 4 door saloon in 2wd and 4wd. Followed by the release of the escort Cosworth bringing back the whale tail from 1992 to 1996. These cars over the years were producing super car performance in power and speed.

Sadly the Cosworth was one of most stolen cars bringing them into group 20 insurance, you had to have two alarms fitted and maybe Rottweiler to stop them being stolen!! Even today they are still stolen on a regular basis and you have to protect them well.

The other sad point most cosworths have been broken up for parts as the engines are in high demand. They are fitted in pretty much any vehicle, especially mk1 and mk2 escorts , making the ford Cosworth extremely rare. Because of this Ford Cosworth are going up in value: a sierra rs500 sold at silverstone car auctions for a staggering  £114,000

Personal I feel Ford has lost its way with their high performance cars. Don’t get me wrong, the rs focus is a good car and Cosworth has been part of the engine in the new focus. But it would be nice to see the Cosworth badge on the back of a ford again and maybe see another whale tail!


This month’s Staff Blog was written by Christian Knight (Workshop Controller). Click here to find out more about Christian.

Staff Blog – 06/07/2017

The Mini – A British Icon

by James Westley

 

In 1959 the British Motor Corporation created a car that was meant as an economical solution to a fuel crisis in the UK and an answer to the German bubble cars of the era, but little did they know it would go on to become one of the most iconic features of Britain even to this day.

 

With its unusual cone suspension and small nature it was the perfect go kart for the roads and they are an absolute laugh to throw into a corner even when a few of the wheels decide they don’t want to be on the road anymore. And if you’re really pushing it down a hill with the wind behind you, then there is a chance of eventually reaching 70+ mph.  Everything about the car was designed to be typically British and it is reported that the pockets in the side doors were sized to fit a bottle of Gin!

 

Throughout the 60s this car became extremely popular and there were new versions made although they were all still small engine city cars 10 years later however, a man named John Cooper took this small city car and modified it thinking, yes, this might well become a perfect rally car. It wasn’t exactly an increase of power to make eyes water with it going from 34 bhp to 55 but a variant of the cooper, the cooper s went on to win the famous Monte Carlo in 1964 and several more times during the 60s. Unfortunately the Cooper  was no longer produced in the UK after 1971 until rover brought it back in 1990 with the Cooper RSP (rover special production).

 

There were many other variants of the mini ranging from just general model updates over the years to the crazy Mini Moke which was essentially a jeep crossed with a mini, although none quite beat the looks of the original models. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s the mini name was bounced around different companies until we have what BMW own now.

 

Sadly the mini couldn’t last forever and in 2000 the remnant of BMC known as Rover, owned by BMW (ironically) at this time, was being sold off but BMW kept the iconic  MINI brand to make what we have today and on October 4th 2000 the last ever “classic” mini was made.

 

Will we ever see a car as iconic as this one again?

 

This month’s Staff Blog was by James Westley (Junior Technician). Click here to find out more about James.

AZ Autos Win at Auto Trader’s Click Awards

Az Autos are extremely honoured to win ‘Digital Innovator of the Year’ Award at the 2017 Auto Trader Click Awards.

Auto Trader measured 8000 independent dealers across 10 different metrics, including Images, number and quality, reviews, advert duration, stock turn, price position, desirability, description quality and overage stock.  The invitations were sent to the top 20 dealers by these metrics and we are delighted to be recognised and to walk away with the Award. A big thank you to all the AZ Autos team, especially Kyle who has been a perfectionist with his photography and attention to detail.

Find out more about the awards here

Loyalty Card Customer

We like to look after our customers!

Every AZ Autos customer will be automatically enrolled into our loyalty scheme. Simply flash your loyalty card and you will be entitled to the following:

Service MOT and Repair Centre

Used Car Centre

  • Free First Years’ Service
  • Free First Year’ MOT
  • 15% Off Extended Warranties

Please ask a member of staff for more details.

*15% off servicing and parts is on parts only

**Used Car Centre offers are for returning customers only

Loyalty Flyer

Staff Blog – 11/05/2017

Roll on June

by Richard Alvarez


I have been attending the Le Mans 24 hour race ,off and on,  since 1969. The first time we went was in a 1965 Vauxhall Viva HA this car was in a very light green and had vinyl seats. The French part of the drive from Calais is about 270 miles which seemed to take an age in a car which had a top speed of about 70 and in those days the French economy did not run to motorways. With the drive to Dover and a couple of hours on the ferry( the tunnel was seen as just a dream) it was quite a trip ..The sight and sound of a British entered Ford GT40, which I still think is one of the most beautiful cars of all time, taking the chequered flag after some 3000 miles made it all worthwhile..

Camping was the order of the day and with a track length of over 8 miles there was plenty of site choice . The facilities for those on a limited budget were just horrid , the French have always had a` laissez faire`  attitude to privacy and washing but this was at a new level especially towards the end of the race when huge amounts of beer and frites had been consumed. The constant noise and discomfort took its toll and the return journey to England was always a little more subdued !

The 24 hour race started in 1923 and was won by a Chenard and Walcker 3 Litre sport which covered some 1400 miles. A race like this was possible because ,as now , some public roads were used but in those days there were numerous accidents involving members of the public who had not been made aware of the situation! Again very French.

The British have had the most winning drivers (32) followed by the French (29) and Germany (19). The fastest speed attained was by a Peugeot WM P88 in 1988 @253 mph. But without doubt  the best noise was from the Mazda 787B rotary which won in 1991 and is the only non piston engined  car so to do.  Rover BRM made a brave attempt with a jet car which finished in 1963.

So what is the magic of this race? Firstly it makes history , it is part of the development of the car . The Jaguar XK120 prototype was the first car with disc brakes and many other everyday performance and safety features were developed on this endurance track. It is also the excitement of seeing cars of different classes on the same track at the same time. On the  legendary Mulsanne straight cars can have a 75 MPH speed difference and it was only a few years ago that they inserted a chicane to lessen the danger of collision especially at night.

We stay in a small Hotel  some 3 miles from the circuit now ., I can`t understand it but my friends all seem to have got older and seem to worry about comfort and whether the Restaurant is booked more than the racing and  the night life!

The 24 hours  starts at 3pm on Saturday 17 th June this year  but the best time is about 3 minutes later when you hear a slight noise in the distance , will it be Porsche or Toyota in the lead as they come round for the first time and in the lesser classes Ford Lamborghini Aston or Ferrari? Who knows , but with another 24 hours to go it is always some race.


This month’s Staff Blog was written by Richard Alvarez (Buying Director). Click here to find out more about Richard.

Community Project – A Business (Week 10 – 02/05/2017)

Week 10 – The Final PresentationWeek 10 – The Final Presentation

As this was the last week of the project we gathered year head’s and also Kieran Murphy (head of the charity Phase) and David Alvarez (Director of AZ Autos) to sit in on a presentation held by Tom and Luke. The presentation ran through the project week by week explaining the different steps, the challenges and what they had learnt. Click here to view the Presentation

The heads of year, Kieran and David all noted how confident Tom and Luke were whilst standing in front of an audience and delivering the presentation. The change from when when they were interviewed was extremely apparent. The project was so successful that Lynne Luckman (Head of Year at the Priory School) has asked us if we can continue the project next year with six pupils. Tom and Luke have both been accepted at North Herts skill centre into apprenticeships.

Staff Blog – 23/03/2017

Electric Cars….. Are they worth it?

by Rachel Gatward

Electric cars were first built and tested as far back as the 1800’s. The first versions were mainly for battery powered locomotives but this prompted others to turn the technology to cars. Many models were developed and used throughout the world, however they increasingly became “hybrids” with petrol engines as well and because the cost of fuel was so low the use of electric motors declined rapidly until only petrol engines remained.

Many years ago, it became clear that falling oil reserves meant the tried and tested petrol and diesel engines we know and love had a shelf life (albeit a rather long one). Coupled with the apparent impact on global warming  and the rising costs of obtaining it, car manufacturers and many tech firms began to look at alternatives. The first and most obvious was to look at electric once again.

Technology had advanced to such a point that far more powerful, yet compact, batteries were available. However despite all of the investment into developing the technology many companies continued using a hybrid engine. The most notable was the late 90’s release of the Toyota Prius. Originally billed as being the next big thing it became clear early on that the technology was not yet there and so the petrol engine was still relied upon.

Fast forward 20 years and the technology has certainly advanced again with smaller more powerful storage options available. There are now around 12,000 electric charging points across the UK and many models are capable of racking up a lot of miles before needing a charge. However charging itself is a problem and the duration the charge lasts depends heavily on the way you drive and other factors such as using the radio, sat nav or air conditioning. Electric cars are developed with cities in mind. They are supposed to be short distance A to B cars to help improve air quality and cut the cost of driving. However this is immediately restricting to many buyers who aren’t in cities.

First you need a charging point at home which is accessible which means you pretty much need a driveway. If you don’t it means running an extension lead from your house out onto the street. Not an ideal scenario. Imagine getting up to go to work in the morning having left the charge on overnight to find someone has disconnected it! What then? You’re now hours away from being charged and ready to drive.

Next is when you need to charge elsewhere. As mentioned, there are 12,000 points across the UK. However remember just how big the UK is and how sparse some areas are. You could drive 100 miles and be nowhere near a charging point. The number of points is always increasing but it will be some time yet before there is a blanket coverage.

These issues are the reason that most of these cars remain “hybrids”. By combining conventional motors with electrical ones you get the best of both worlds. If the charge runs out, switch to petrol. This in turn re-charges the batteries for later use. This makes sense and allows the technology to improve steadily whilst slowly helping to lower fuel use. Hybrids will likely be around for some time before truly electrical cars are at a level where they can be used all round.

The last stumbling block of the past few years is cost. These cars can be incredibly expensive when weighed against the pros of having one. However with many major manufacturers now ploughing billions into research and development these costs will fall whilst the efficiency rises. Not to mention that the days of boxy Prius style cars are gone. There are some very good looking cars coming to market and so aesthetics are no longer an issue to those with looks and style at the top of their requirements.

It’s also worth mentioning that because such cars are seen as the future and far better for the environment, the UK government currently has a grant system which means you can get around £4,000 off the price of a new one.

So are they worth it? In short and strictly in my opinion, no. The technology is still not there to make electric a viable option for most people. If you drive many miles and go to many different places you would find yourself constantly concerned with charge levels and finding charging stations . The use of hybrid engines certainly alleviates this but if you are relying so heavily on the petrol engine, why bother with the electric motor in the first place. You are spending a significant sum of money for just the option of using the electric motor.

Much like any big purchase you should always do you research first and make your own decision based on your needs.

This month’s Staff Blog was by Rachel Gatward (Head of Finance). Click here to find out more about Rachel.

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