Cars | Hilkka Javanainen’s little-run Opel Astra collapsed unexpectedly, but the car dealer did not want to pay for the repair – the seller’s liability may continue for a long time after the end of the warranty period

For example, engine or gearbox breakdowns are defects for which the seller is usually liable for years after the end of the warranty period.

Hilkka Javanainen bought a new Opel Astra in 2016.

The car was not the first new car he has bought. Javanainen has been driving for more than 40 years, and has almost always bought her car as new.

“I always think in my back of my head that if you buy a used one, then what if it gets something wrong,” Javanainen says.

“But it will always be used again at some point. Unfortunately, this car soon became one. ”

Retired Javanese does not drive very much. He mainly uses the car for hobbies like raving and skiing while walking. Even in the store, Javanainen often walks to get useful exercise.

So there will be little kilometers. In four years, Astra has reached about 32,000 kilometers.

That’s why Javanainen was amazed when the car broke down last October with a Clutch Kit that needed new ones. No clutch should trip like this suddenly – Javanainen has always driven with manual gears and says that he can use the clutch correctly.

He called the dealership Länsiauto and asked if there might be a type defect.

Reportedly not.

According to Javanainen, the western car refused to participate in the costs of renewing the clutch kit. The two-year warranty had already expired, so Javanainen stated that it must be clear. He would take care of the repairs at his own expense.

But could he have demanded a dealership to replace the clutch repair?

Warranty termination does not, in principle, justify the seller of the product, such as a car, refusing to rectify the defect.

“The Consumer Protection Act assumes that the seller’s liability for defects continues throughout the product’s life cycle, ie the assumed service life,” says the leading expert of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. Raija Marttala.

The assumed life cycle of a car is, of course, more than four years and 32,000 kilometers.

For example, engine breakdown or gearbox breakdown are defects for which the seller is usually liable for years after the end of the warranty period.

Same the law applies to the used car trade: if a car is sold in good condition and breaks down for a reason beyond the control of the buyer, the seller may well be liable for the defect, even if no warranty is promised.

Car dealers are happy to attract buyers of new cars as customers of their own maintenance services. Warranty service can still be performed by an external service center in accordance with the manufacturer’s service schedule. The service station in the picture is not related to the case.­

Examples of cases where a used car has been dismantled can be found in the Consumer Disputes Board’s decisions:

Four-year-old Audi A4, driven 147,000 km. The engine consumed more oil than recommended by the manufacturer. The price of the car was 21,800 euros, repair costs 6,500 euros. The seller refused to contribute sufficiently to the repair costs. The Consumer Disputes Board recommended that the deal be dissolved.

14-year-old Seat Cordoba, driven 354,000 km, price 1,700 euros. The car was already stunted on the way home and proved unusable due to an engine failure two days after the deal. According to the workshop, the only sensible correction would have been to replace the engine used in the car at a price more than the value of the car. The board recommended the dissolution of the deal.

Essential is, of course, the ability to prove the defect of a product. For example, in the case of Javanainen – when the switch breaks – it can be tricky.

“The switch is problematic in the sense that many parts of it can be broken due to a malfunction. Therefore, in the case of a clutch, the consumer often loses his case on the Consumer Disputes Board, even if the car is about new and little driven than in this case, ”says Marttala.

But the story of Hilkka Javanainen and the Opel Astra does not end there.

Javanese The Astra was first towed to one car service. From there, Javanainen says that he has received the following cost estimate:

“The clutch plate, pressure set and working cylinder are 1,700 euros, and if the flywheel needs to be replaced, the total estimate is 2,250 euros.”

Javanainen found the prices quite salty. He competed for the proposed work in Autojerry, which compares car repair shops, and received several offers, the price range of which, according to Javanainen, varied between 595 and 1,050 euros.

He decided to have the work done at another workshop where the work was significantly cheaper.

Here at the stage it is worth dealing with a small side path in the story.

Can my car be serviced and repaired in which shop do you want without the car’s warranty expiring?

The warranty for the Javanese car had already expired when the car broke down, so the issue does not apply in this case. But many Finns thinkthat the car needs to be serviced by a branded service if you want the warranty to remain.

According to a 2015 study by the Technical Trade and Services Association, motorists have received such erroneous information from a car dealer or brand service. One in three motorists thought that servicing outside of brand service would void the warranty.

The presumed sharing of erroneous information is not acceptable, but it is understandable from a business perspective.

Car brand service is a big business for many car manufacturers, and long warranties are a selling point for many car brands. A big part of the whole car sales based on profitability maintenance and repair work.

Getting a car buyer to undertake brand service for, say, a seven-year warranty period is a big win for the car brand, especially since brand service is often more expensive than chain repair.

In reality however, the car does not need to be serviced by a dealership to maintain the warranty. The car must be serviced according to a maintenance schedule, and this can be done basically anywhere in the service workshop.

“Car manufacturers have portals that can be accessed by people outside their own organization to check the car’s proper maintenance program so that maintenance is done correctly,” says Marttala of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.

If, despite its promises, the so-called wild garage has not serviced the car in accordance with the maintenance schedule and the warranty expires, the garage will be liable for any harm caused to the consumer if it is caused by incorrect or defective maintenance.

But should your car still be serviced at a dealership, just in case?

“I’m not going to say how each should work. But if your car is serviced by another repair shop and the car has a long warranty, you should make sure that the repair shop is able to do and also perform the maintenance according to the maintenance schedule. You can also think about whether the place in question is such that it will be able to bear its possible liability in the longer term if problem situations arise, ”says Marttala.

But let us now return to the case of Hilkka Javanainen and Opel Astra.

The Javanainen car was replaced with Opel’s original Clutch Kit at his own expense, but the problems did not end.

The workshop reported that the car’s vacuum pump was in need of replacement and that the oil cooler was leaking.

Javanainen thought that now was enough. He had a new car purchased in 2016 that had driven less than 32,000 miles, and a new fault was constantly being found in the car.

He informed the Western Car that these could be involved in repairing new defects in the car. However, he had already paid for the clutch repair with his own money.

“My demand is that Länsiauto rectifies the faults found in the engine vacuum pump and oil cooler free of charge by replacing them with a new one,” Javanainen wrote in an email.

In a western car it was said that they needed a diagnosis of the defect, and that with the information provided by Javanainen, there was no way they could confirm the defect.

Javanainen provided additional information. The western car offered to do a fault check for 90 euros.

HS has seen the email exchange between Javanainen and Länsiauto.

Javanainen proposed a compromise. He wrote to the Western Car:

“I suggest that you investigate the faults in my car, and if there is nothing wrong with my car and I can continue driving without any worries, I will pay the required compensation of 90 euros. However, if there is a fault in the car in addition to the replacement of the clutch that has already been found, I do not consider myself obliged to pay an additional EUR 90 for the new inspection, and you will pay for the repairs. Of course, I still hold the manufacturer responsible for breaking the clutch for those kilometers. ”

According to Javanainen, the Western car did not accept this proposal, and in the end Javanainen paid for everything from his own bag.

Leading expert Marttala cannot comment on this particular case precisely because he does not know its details. At a general level, he notes that in a situation like this, the salesperson may have made a mistake.

“The faults in the vacuum pump and oil condenser sound like they shouldn’t come for miles like that. In such cases, one could very well ask the seller for liability for defects, even if the warranty has expired. The seller may be obliged to pay at least a partial rebate, ”says Marttala.

Javanainen had also commissioned another workshop to carry out a fault study, on the basis of which, in Martpel’s opinion, the dealership should have accepted the car for inspection.

“It does not appear that the seller had a valid reason not to accept the customer’s statement of defect.”

According to Marttala, at least the dealership should have inspected the car free of charge. Alternatively, the customer could have paid for the inspection, and if there had been a fault, the inspection price would have been refunded – just as Javanainen had requested.

Hilkka Javanainen suspects that female motorists living alone may be in a weaker position than men as workshop customers.­

Javanese had a bad taste in Opel’s mouth.

“We women who live alone are probably quite a treat for car repair shops. They know we don’t understand, and we often don’t understand, ”he says.

Western car workshop manager Juha Vatasen according to the case is still open, and the Western Car has not said anything definitive about it.

“I clarified the matter with the sales manager, so I understand that the customer had to deliver some papers, but I don’t understand them, so that’s the way the matter is still pending. As for the coupling, if it is a malfunction, it is not covered by the warranty for any car brand, ”says Vatanen.

According to Vatanen, the car should be used in an Opel store and find out what kind of fault there is in the car. He says a fee of 90 euros will have to be charged for the inspection.

“It’s our job, and testers are pricey stuff, they’re not free to anyone. That is why there is such a price every time that tester is put into it. ”

According to Vatanen, Länsiauto always operates in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act.

“If it’s a seller’s fault liability, then of course we go according to the Consumer Protection Act. And it is also often considered that we value that customer relationship so much that many times these are also taken as goodwill. Of course, it is paramount that customers use our services. But those documents always have to be demanded. ”

According to Vatanen, for example, the engine and gearbox have a certain service life.

“Whether it was 200,000 kilometers or 250,000 kilometers, it has a defined duration.”

Vatanen says that they are still trying to find out.

“I ask that the customer be contacted to see what the pattern is like here.”


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