Why won't the dealer help with wiring problems on my daughter's Volkswagen camper van?

You were kind enough late last year to answer my query regarding the larger engine size required to replace a failed engine in my granddaughters 1974 Volkswagen camper van. It was bought and fitted by a local enthusiast Volkswagen camper garage. The bill which I paid for the change over included £50 for a secondhand alternator, £12 for a secondhand regulator pack and £62.50 for a new battery, over £1,078.00 in total and 18 hours' work.

After collecting the van in mid February and driving about 25 miles to her home in Leeds it failed to start when she next required it and it had to be taken back to the garage. They fitted a new alternator and wiring this time, and my granddaughter paid for this and £60.00 for the return tow. Last week it again would not start and despite re-charging the battery she could not get it to start. She went to this garage on Sunday last and the owner was quite unhelpful and generally blamed the age of the wiring. I feel if he had any thoughts that the wiring was not up to it he should have let us know and not just send it out as a doubtful object. He does not seem to want to guarantee his work under any circumstances and says he will collect the van back when his “friendly” tow firm is in the area, giving no information how long she may have to wait.

She uses this vehicle as her hotel when travelling round with Opera North based in Leeds. My question is, as the garageman is ignoring the urgency of this further repair, could I tell him that unless he pulls his finger out I will take it to another garage and send him the bill and if necessary the small claims procedure. Do I or my granddaughter have any legal right to do this after giving him an ultimatum and time to react?

Asked on 1 June 2013 by BH, Harrogate

Answered by Honest John
Unfortunately you are talking about a vehicle here that is 39 years old. And so is the wiring. And we have just had a cold, damp winter. So, it is highly likely that the wiring insulation has broken down, that there are bad earths or open circuits somewhere and they are causing the leakdown. The garageman will probably feel that he has already been generous in helping keep a vehicle that is long past its design life on the road. Probably a good idea to call in the services of a local 'car electrical specialist' (www.yell.com). He should be able to tell you the extent of the problem with the wiring. A complete rewire will cost literally thousands.
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