Long -Is small claims worth it? (Garage refusing final right to reject, and malicious counterclaim)
In summary: I’m stuck on what to do next regarding being misold a car that has basically been written off due to amount of faults. The garage are refusing a refund/final rejection.
To make things more complicated the garage is falsely claiming I’ve damaged their courtesy car and is threatening to use that against me. Unsure if they could win, but probably? I 100% did not damage the car but its just my word unfortunately (details below).
I would like to know thoughts on if it is worth going to court (I’ve listed my worries below) for small claims, even if just for damages.
Otherwise I think my only other option is to dump the car on We Buy Any Car or something and use what little savings I have left to buy a cheap run around for meantime.
28/7/2023 – Bought the car for £4990 it was described as excellent. They stated on their adverts and website that every car is thoroughly checked by qualified technicians before sale.
Note as this is used against me later – driving is a major part of my job and I do a lot of miles, hence wanting a low mileage car.
On the test drive there was a squeaking noise which I and my friend both immediately asked about but the garage owner and mechanic insisted it was “wheel dust” as the car was hardly ever driven, as shown by mileage. And it would soon disappear. (These guys since problems started, are saying I never said anything on the test drive and was entirely happy).
29/7/2023 to 31/08/2023
After buying the car, it became apparent within two weeks that the tracking was badly off, car was crabbing and got worse. Air conditioning didn’t work.
Mid August the bumper also half fell off on the motorway, dragging along the road.
Also I had booked it in with my local, trusted regular garage to have it checked after buying. They found more faults totalling hundreds of pounds, including:
The nearside track rod end nut was loose and could move by hand
Tracking very badly off on every wheel.
“Rear toe non adjustable – previous rear end impact?”
The Garage I bought car from first fobbed me off until the warranty period had passed.
Then upon that, they tried arguing with me about repairing or paying for repairs
Managed to make them very reluctantly accept to attempt repairs after Citizens Advice told me what to say to him (car not as described/satisfactory etc, Consumer Rights Act and so on) and its best to let them have a chance of putting the vehicle right.
They also claimed my local garage are cowboys making up lies to get work. So Citizens Advice told me to get two other garage assessments on the issues raised, which I did, which they still scoffed at.
I wanted them to pay for a hire car (I’m self employed so I rely on a car or no work for me) but they absolutely insisted on dropping me a courtesy car which I eventually agreed to (kicking myself now, this is where they got me!)
05/09/2023 to 08/9/2023
Garage finally made it to collect car where they did repairs of issues noted. However, they didn’t fix tracking properly. As advised by citizens advice I had their repairs assessed and all three garages noted tracking still off.
I paid for tracking to be done again myself for £70 two weeks later.
Later on (details below) in October, Toyota Garage after a vehicle healthcheck, verbally told me their repairs were “mostly sloppy and rushed”
The staff member who dropped car back and collected was complaining they had to order genuine parts, "otherwise I’d moan". He was also late collecting and dropping off by hours so I missed jobs, and kept saying I didn’t know what I was doing/other garages are liars etc. This was all verbal though so I guess no proof?
The courtesy car issue – the garage dropped me a battered Citroen. The sheet of paper for the courtesy car they gave me was just a blank black and white print out, the reg was on it and the date. And I didn’t sign it. The diagram of the car showing any marks was blank.
The staff member on collecting it back came to my door, and immediately confronted me saying he had looked at the car and I “had crashed it all down one side” exact quote. He phoned the garage owner to tell him this.
When I obviously totally denied this and asked to see where this so-called big crash damage was, it ended up being a light 2cm scratch on a bit of paintwork at the back.
At this point staff member said (verbal not recorded unfortunately so he is denying it) that the previous knocks and scrapes and a large dent were not recorded on the form but they were “old” so they “couldn’t say that was me”. But he insisted I’ve crashed it.
They said if I bother them again they would claim against me for this vague, extensive damage I did! Totally false claim!
I know timestamps can be edited so I’m concerned they will just take photos of the battered car and claim those were me after all, if it comes to it.
I stupidly only took two poor photos of the courtesy car when I got it, but it was dark and doesn’t show detail or whole car, so pretty useless. I have lots of clearer, quality pics of the scratch and around the rest of the battered car afterwards (as the staff member was making those claims on collection though).
The side indicator lights both started to fall out, loose
Car making dodgy noises and electric key failed. Local garage said to go to Toyota garage as key would need to be from them.
They did a health check for the dodgy noises while I was there, and found:
Tracking is badly out again
Brake fluid test failed (and three of the things on the wheels are frozen solid so would break and cost lots if they tried to remove them to replace brake fluid, they could only work on one that they could remove – apologies I’m not a mechanic but hope this makes sense).
Auxiliary belt and links worn need replacing/work
Wishbone brushes are badly deteriorated/failing
Brake pads need replacing
As mentioned due to my work, I drive a lot. I had done 8000 miles roughly at this point. However, I’ve heard the wishbone parts fail at 40 to 60k miles so surely that part isn’t caused by me and my mileage? Not sure about the rest to be honest.
I haven’t paid for an engineers report for more detail yet as waiting to see if worth the cost.
In garage’s response, they are focusing on blaming me due to my mileage and not driving carefully, age of the car. Skirted over the major issues.
Also my tyre was sliced by a vandal that morning so Toyota had to note and change it for me (joys of my neighbourhood, spate of car attacks that month) but they’re saying a cut tyre shows proof I don’t take care of my car. Ditto as a level of something was getting low.
They refused right to reject, and said if I start court they will strongly defend themselves and counterclaim for damage to their courtesy car (yeah, that threat has reappeared).
They still state that none of the paperwork, invoices and garage reports and even a video from Toyota hold up as sufficient evidence.
If I go to court for refund (and also damages too)?
I have a couple of friends who have had legal issues before and one warned me even if I win:
1. They can reduce my refund by 25p a mile. So I may only end up with something like £2k for the car anyway?
2. They can just end their company (limited) and refuse to pay and that’ll be stress chasing them, or may not be paid at all. Plus I would have my court costs on top of a rubbish refund?
So she thinks I shouldn’t bother, especially if they can win their counterclaim for the courtesy car.
Other friend thinks it’s worth looking into. Other reviews have said similar to me (dodgy, faulty cars) but the garage seems to have these removed quite quickly. And he thinks they’re trying to intimidate me.
Thanks for reading, sorry for length!
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