Timing waits for no man

On Saturday, 6th March, I bought a 2001 'Y' reg VW Polo with 1.4 16v engine and 59k miles on it, from a fairly local dealer. I paid £2,700. On the Monday, I 'phoned the dealer to check when the timing belt had last been changed (I am aware that I should have checked this at the time of purchase, but incorrectly assumed that, with a FSH, this would have been done). The dealer 'phoned the garage who had serviced the car for the last 3 years, but they had never changed the belt. After collecting the car yesterday, the service history had no indication that the timing belt had ever been changed. I drove home carefully and booked the car into my own garage for a complete replacement kit. I have just collected the car and been advised that I should seek a contribution to the cost from the dealer because the belt and pulley were in very poor shape and could have gone at any minute. I am very happy that the belt didn't fail and wreck the engine, but do I have a case against the dealer or was the onus on me to ask whether the belts had been changed? (The Bill of Sale does carry a standard wording recommendation to change the timing belt). I asked the dealer if he would replace it but he said he didn’t have time.

Asked on 5 June 2010 by MM, via email

Answered by Honest John
You paid a fair price for the car, so in law he is liable for selling you
a car "not of satisfactory quality" and failing to repair it when asked. Start with www.moneyclaim.gov.uk , then progress via the small
claims track of the county court. But be aware that if he is operating on a shoestring and has no real, assets you may not be able to get anything out of him. Law here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights.
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