Ask the Expert: How can I get my money back for a smoking Vauxhall Corsa?

One reader has had an issue with the repair to the exhaust of a Vauxhall Corsa
One reader has had an issue with the repair to the exhaust of their grandson's Vauxhall Corsa

Dear Alex,

My grandson’s 10-year-old Vauxhall Corsa had an exhaust that was smoking badly. The dealer changed the oil and filter, but shortly afterwards our local garage diagnosed a cracked piston, quoting £4,000 to replace the engine. The selling dealer referred us to its warranty, but this only covers repairs up to £500. The dealer has since advised that its liability was limited to 28 days and has ignored our request for them to buy the car back. What action would you recommend?


Dear DA,

The selling dealer of this car is clearly a complete cowboy and either has a very limited understanding of the Consumer Rights Act, or – more likely – has been telling you porkies all along.

There was no way an oil and filter change was going to sort this issue and I suspect the dealer knew that. And that warranty is barely worth the paper it’s written on.

Fortunately, there’s one other area in which the dealer was talking rubbish: its liability extends to more than 28 days. In fact, it is required to give you a full refund and accept rejection of the car if a significant fault occurs within the first 30 days.

Given the fault presented itself within that period, I believe you have the right to a rejection and a full refund on that basis alone.

The dealer might argue the toss, but it’s irrelevant, because its liability doesn’t end there. After the 30 days is up, and within six months of purchase, the Act allows the dealer one attempt to fix the fault; if it cannot, it is then obliged to accept your rejection.

On the basis that this dealer’s laughable oil and filter remedy constituted an attempt to fix the car, I believe you are now entitled to a refund irrespective of the fact that you’re outside the 30-day rejection period.

From this point on, make all communication in writing, via recorded delivery. Inform the dealer you intend to reject the car under the terms of the Act, request acknowledgement in writing within a set timeframe of your choice and explain calmly that you’ll be taking legal action if none is forthcoming.

If the dealer insists on playing hardball, I’m sorry to say that you may have to go through the courts to get your money back. I would always advise seeking legal advice before doing so – however, I suspect that you’ve got a pretty strong case in this instance.

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