I AM writing this letter to voice my dissatisfaction with the motor industry, as a result of my experience after buying a 2002 BMW diesel with 182000km on the clock from a dealer in Benoni in September last year.
About three weeks ago I had a breakdown and the vehicle was towed to a workshop in Benoni. After diagnosing the fault, they told me that the oil cooler was leaking.
As it was only four months since I had bought the vehicle, I phoned the insurance company to claim, but I was told that they couldn't help me because the oil cooler is not covered by the warranty.
After asking for a better explanation, I was told by the consultant that my car is old and is covered under category D, which means that I forfeited some benefits.
This was after the salesman at the dealer where I bought the car had assured me that the vehicle was in good condition and had been AA tested (no proof of this was ever provided).
Then, after paying R2950 for a new oil cooler, which the dealer refused to refund, I got another shock of my life when the workshop phoned to tell me that as they were busy assembling the engine, they noticed something like oil spilling out of the engine, and on closer inspection they discovered that the tappet cover was leaking and it appeared that it had been leaking before i bought the vehicle.
When I went to the dealer to report the new development, the manager told me that I was bothering them, they couldn't help each and every guy that came back after three months with a complaint, he's running a business and it must be profitable.
Well, it's now three weeks later and my car is still standing at the workshop while I am trying to raise money for a tappet cover, which, by the way, costs R5500. Please advise me on my best course of action. Christopher
PHEW! What a horror story, Christopher. You were exploited here by three pillars of the retail motor trade - a dealer, an insurer and a workshop.
The dealer probably knew the car had problems, the story of an AA inspection is sounding like so much hogwash.
The insurer never properly informed you of all the exclusions under your policy. As for the workshop here's an alternative scenario which has fewer glaring inconsistencies than their stories:
Your car never had an oil cooler leak, and the oil cooler was never replaced, although they might have cleaned it up nice and shiny to look like new. (It's difficult to see how an oil cooler leak can cause a breakdown, short of the engine seizing through lack of oil.
The breakdown was caused by some minor problem, most likely electrical. There was no leak from the tappet cover when the car arrived at the workshop - it's hard to miss a tappet cover leak, even on a cursory inspection.
The tappet cover and/or its gasket was damaged by the workshop, either deliberately or accidentally during the course of their work.
We conclude the following from this, like many of us have concluded from bitter experience:
l Never believe a single word of what a car salesman says; question, probe, check, verify everything.
l Be even more sceptical of insurance consultants' talk; always ask for a written list of things that are actually covered by the policy, instead of the usual list of exclusions.
l With workshops you have to adopt a hands-on approach. Before they do any work, let them point out to you the faulty component and ask them to explain how that caused the problem. Check their prices against other suppliers, including scrapyards.
Yes, I know we all have better things to do than to troll the scrapyards, but this is what the workshop may be bargaining on - surprise them.
What avenues of recourse do you have in your present situation? Effectively slim, and that is the real tragedy of the customer's plight.
But the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) should be the best place to start. Crooks are far too clever for all the ombudsmen, dispute resolution centres, and so on.
I would check to see whether the "tappet cover leak" is due to an ineffective gasket or a damaged cover. If it's the cover, I would try to find one at a scrapyard, hopefully much cheaper than the price quoted to you.
Once I have that BM back, I would give it a valet and try to sell it as soon as possible.
A fairly high-mileage turbo-diesel is a time bomb waiting to explode. The next thing that goes might be the turbo, and then you are really looking at mind-boggling repair costs.