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Where do we stand? Please help.


Kbabe01

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Need a bit of advice please.

My parents bought a car from a private owner. Had a service on it and all seemed well. 2 days later it broke down and they have now been told it needs a new engine. The garage have told them that the previous owner would have known this as they can see recent work has been done on it. My question is do my parents have any legal standing? Would it be worth suing? If so where do we start?


Any advice would be really helpfull.

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its the head gasket that has gone and apparently damaged the engine. Not sure if this could have been seen on a service? The guy who sold the car has since told us the head gasket was changed but apparently not. No paper work says sold as seen but i would assume all private sales are?
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this happened to a friend of mine and he bought it from a mechanic, he was stuck with it but then he brought it down to dingwalls auction and it sold immediately, it was a 4 by 4. This happens alot i guess. :-S Check your paperwork as Hal the car expert says.


edit for typo.

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Hello Kbabe01,


Oh dear! Had they bought from a dealer the position would be a lot clearer and they would have more recourse to legal action. However, as the contract has been between private individuals, the usual Sale of Goods Act rules (e.g. satisfactory quality) don't apply.


However, check the description of the vehicle because if, e.g. the paperwork (or verbal assurances) say/said that the engine was in good condition, then that engine must be as described. The car must also be roadworthy. Clearly it isn't. My advice would be (a) check that the buyers were entitled to sell in the first place (b) check that they are worth suing © if so, take them to the small claims court. It's a simple process (a CAB or the court itself can help you). On the very little information you have provided I cannot provide a more definitive analysis, but my view is that the car probably doesn't match the description given prior to the contract taking place, in which case your parents may be entitled to compensation. GO FOR IT!


Good luck.

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Hi Ladymuck,

I see that you have replied to my daughters most and thank you for that. When my husband bought the car the owner said he had done certain things, like cambelt, thermosat and water pump. He didn't have the receipt for this but said he would foward it on!! We since had to have the thermostat changed because mechanic said it was faulty, it then broke down again and AA garage have now said that head gasket is faulty (previous owner admits work done on this)and that has cause damage that cannot be repaired. Mechanics say work done on the head gasket woulod have shown the damage therefore they would have know about it when the car was sold! Sorry its a bit long winded but would this be a basis for small claims? I have spoken to him and he says he will take us to the garage that done the work for him.


M x

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From what you say, it sounds as though the seller (by stating that he would provide receipts for work allegedly done) has also broken a specific contractual term. And, on the face of it, you have a claim against him for this too. However, I'm sure you don't need me to point out that this situation poses evidential problems: i.e. lack of proof. This applies to both the failure to match description point outlined above and to this broken contractual term issue. If both of these were purely verbal then they will be difficult (though not impossible) to prove. Was a witness in attendance of both statements? What did the original ad say?


Basically, in this type of situation let the buyer beware applies. I.e. the onus was on you to make all the relevant checks and enquiries. However, here, it seems he may have misrepresented the situation (I cannot be sure of this as I do not have a transcript of the entire conversations between you). Furthermore, he has promised receipts and failed to produce them. So, I still believe you may have a valid claim against him.


Another point. How long ago did the sale/purchase take place? Because, if you leave it too long (say more than a couple of weeks, this may endanger your claim further). You need to act quickly. You may need an independent mechanic's report to corroborate the fact that the car did not match description at the time of sale (this can be costly - so you would need to weigh everything up). Before going to court you should try approaching the seller first. Ask him for those receipts etc. Challenge him...see what he has to say. Tell him of your intention to take him to court. He may well strike a deal with you. If that doesn't work, your only options are to go to court or, of course, to accept your loss(es) and learn from the experience.


My advice to you would be to visit your nearest CAB. I don't know where you live but there is one in Sydenham. It is a free service.

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Thank you for your info! the car was bought three weeks ago, I contacted him when the faults came to light after a week, and have had various txt conversations with him since. I have these converstions still on my phone.

We will of course seek advise from CAB and I am sure take him to small claims court if advised so. I hope this can be sorted but either way it is an expensive lesson!

Again many thanks for your help.

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If you bring a small claim against him the matter is judged on a balance of probability of evidence, and is pretty much judged on the credibility of the witnesses, their affidavits and statements, if you have the text evidence and you both provide affidavit evidence, as to the content of the 'contract' and assurances given then you should go for it - if you genuinely believe the seller knew the car to be faulty when sold. Don't bother with the CAB - complete waste of time and effort.


You will not recover any costs save for issue fees and interest if your claim is under ?5,000 (except maybe ?50 for your loss of earnings, if any, for your day in court should it go to civil trial)


You will have to find an issue fee, allocation questionaire fee, hearing fee, (all recoverable) and posibly commission an experts report (not recoverable if claim under ?5,000), solicitors fees and barristers fees are recoverable if your claim is over ?5,000 and not if under. Then even if you obtain a judgement in your favour you then have to enforce that judgement, which is not as easy as it sounds. Do a brief check for any recoverable assets before even considering action, ie land registry, does he own his house ? Do you perceive their to beanyequity in it ? etc


If your claim is over ?5,000 and you decide to pursue it yourself then you may be able to claim the grand sum of ?10 an hour for your time , if he defends by using a solicitor and barrister and you loose, then you would be liable for their fees !


If your claim is strong youmay be able to get a solicitor do do it for you uner a conditional fees agreement, which is no win no fee, but with the other side being liable to pay up to double the fees should you win. (Confused yet ? you will be !)


Blown head gaskets on aluminium heads are pretty easy to spot - you get 'frothy coffee' in your radiator - when buying a second hand car always leave the engine to idle for at least a 15 minute (preferably onger) time period to check the oil pressure stablizes, if the oil pressure light indicator has been removed, not working or has had the fuse removed then this is a sure sign that the buyer knows the car to be faulty.


If you're lucky in the county court, the judge, registrar or recorder, will have read the evidence prior to entering court and will only really be testing the credibility of the evidence and the witnesses. If you're unlucky he/she won't even have seen the docments before entering court, and most of those supplied to the court will be lost somewhere within the system, so take lots of copies of everything with you.

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