Dealer refusing to show servicing paperwork

I've owned a 2004 Volvo V40 1.8 for about a year. I bought it from a doctor friend who was emigrating and so far it has given no problems at all. Although it came with most of the paperwork, my friend told me that following some difficulties with an engine noise, the dealer (a main Volvo dealer) had agreed to 'replace the engine' in 2008 (at 62,000 miles) but there was no paperwork relating to this, for which he was very apologetic.

As I have now owned the car for about a year I think it is time for a routine service (I have driven about 12,000 miles in that time). I phoned the dealer to ask which service would be due, given that a 'new engine' at 62,000 miles would mean that the engine has now effectively only driven 37,000 miles, not 97,000 as indicated on the odometer.

The service schedule for this vehicle requires a timing belt change at 96,000 miles so I was keen to make sure the engine had in fact been changed before putting off a change of timing belt. When I phoned the service department of the main Volvo dealership (where all the work had been carried out) about the history of the car, they told me that it had last been serviced by them in 2007.

When I told them that I had been advised that the engine had been replaced by them in 2008, they got very cagey on the phone and insisted I bring the car to them in order to speak face-to-face. This I did, but when I asked which service was due, the Service Advisor refused to share this information with me, citing 'data protection' as a reason why he would not tell me what was done to the car by them in 2008.

He has advised me that in order to share any further information with me, he will need a signed letter of permission from the previous owner; I cannot help but suspect that this is a deliberate attempt to stone-wall me and I just don't see why they wouldn't want to share this information with me. I have advised them that as the owner of the car I feel I have a right to see the paperwork relating to it - if nothing else in order to avoid the large cost of a timing belt change. Who is right here?

The funny thing is, the car is driving perfectly well. I certainly now feel more inclined to use a good independent expert for servicing rather than the main dealer!

Asked on 14 November 2012 by Chris on the road

Answered by Honest John
That is total cobblers. This information is not covered by the Data Protection Act because it pertains to a car that you now own. Threaten the garage with involving Trading Standards if they will not reveal the truth. If you can't find the engine number on the engine, then a decent independent will be able to find it and to tell you if it matches the engine number on the V5C.
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