March 9th: Car was collected, driven by their engineer to the workshop without any apparent fault, at around 50mph, 13 miles to Barons Hindhead, due to EGR cooler recall needing doing.
March 11th: I received a vehicle health check which confirmed no running issues, oil level and coolant level fine, exhaust system operating normally.
March 19th ish: They found the DPF to have a broken flange upon reassembly of the car with new EGR cooler, so I agreed to pay towards that being replaced.
Lockdown happened - car was left semi dismantled until mid May.
May 20th: collected car, test drive had not been done, car broke down within 3 hours due to engine knocking and lack of power.
May 26th: garage offered to fix car and let me know when it was ready for collection. I accepted the offer. They replaced the egr valve and it made no difference to engine knocking. Later that day, they went back on that offer of fixing the car, and told me I'd have to pay for diagnosis.
Dealership refused to investigate the fault under the internal INFO recall code (which would apply given the symptoms of the fault) or to carry out any further work to the car.
That's the short version.
Car was moved today by BMW UK to another dealership for diagnosis.
The longer version, more detailed, is below:
My complaint against Barons Hindhead BMW (Barons Automotive Ltd), is that due to the documentary evidence which has been received and reviewed by the them, as per The Consumer Rights Act 2015:-
- Reasonable care and skill has not been executed in the service I have received between March 9th 2020 and today’s date, 23rd June 2020.
- Expressed and implied terms of contract between myself and Barons Automotive Ltd have been broken by the Company, resulting in loss and detriment to me.
In summary, evidence shows that:
- My car exhibited no engine running / knocking noise issues on and before 9th March 2020 when it was collected by the garage.
- I had maintained my car well and inline with good practice and the service book and MOT requirements prior to 9th March 2020.
- My engine was running normally and my engine oil and coolant levels were normal and good as per the Barons Hindhead BMW Vehicle Health Check sent to me on March 11th 2020. There were no concerns noted by the engineer as to the function of my engine or exhaust system.
- It has been admitted by the garage that during the 73 days within which my car was in their care, the engine had only been idled and that the car had not been tested under normal driving conditions prior to release on the 20th May 2020 (GPS tracker data also details this). Repeated or excessive idling without normal driving conditions are known to cause the issues I have experienced with the engine knocking noise and performance issues.
- On 20th May 2020, the engine exhibited symptoms of engine damage (knocking noise and performance problems) which it had not exhibited prior to the 73 days in the care of the garage.
Barons Automotive Ltd have now had enough time and opportunity to resolve the issue since they became aware of it (34 days as of today, 23rd June 2020), and enough time to act upon my acceptance of the terms outlined in the emails to me of 22nd - 26th May 2020, i.e. “Barons Hindhead would like to get your car sorted and tested and back on the road” and "We will get the car fixed and then we will advise you once this is ready” and "We will get you back in your car as soon as possible as we are aware you are without transport”. As of today’s date (23/06/2020), this matter is still unresolved.
Detail of complaint / timeline of events:
On 9th March 2020 my car was driven at a maximum of 48.5 MPH to Barons Hindhead BMW on roads which are restricted to 30MPH (GPS and mapping data provided by my insurer). There was no problem with how the engine was running or performing reported by the driver.
On 11th March 2020, as detailed in the Vehicle Health Check report from the garage, my engine was operating normally and my engine oil level was not low. It was also confirmed to me via email that, my original EGR "Cooler was in good condition, no sign of blockages or coolant leaks”. See: https://video.citnow.com/vx9-kDMfd8z
On 19th March 2020, it was agreed between myself and the garage by email that a new Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) would be fitted to my car and that I was to "pay £456 towards its replacement when the vehicle is complete” (paid 20/05/2020).
On 24th March 2020, I received an email from the garage which said: “With the ongoing Corona virus crisis and in line with government recommendations we have taken the decision to immediately close all of our BMW dealerships. I apologies that your vehicle repairs will not be complete, but please rest assured that we will take every step possible to keep your vehicle safe and secure during the period of closure. We are currently following the governments advise and will be closed for an initial 3 week period.” I relied upon this assurance, but I do not feel that every step possible was taken to keep my vehicle safe.
On 8th April 2020 I emailed the garage and said, "I am growing concerned about my vehicle suffering damage through lack of use / moisture / battery drainage / moisture and mould growth or mildew inside the cabin, . The handbrake should also be released and repositioned and not left for many weeks clamping the same place. My concern was prompted by this article sent to me by autotrader. https://www.autotrader.co.uk/content/advice/storing-your-car”
On 27 April 2020, the garage wrote to me and said "We hope to reopen the business on the 11th May, should this date change we will let you know.” - I relied upon that promise, and I did not receive notification of a change to that date.
On 19th May 2020, I was told that my car was being worked on and should be ready for collection the next day.
On 20th May 2020, 63 days after agreeing to pay for the replacement of my DPF, I was asked to make payment via telephone before seeing my car. It had been with the garage for a total of 73 days at this point. I feel it is important to note this payment should only have been requested from me "when the vehicle is complete”. The work to the vehicle was not “complete” when I collected it, as the operation and drivability of the vehicle had not been tested under normal driving conditions. After 73 days of not having been on the road, sitting and idling only during that time, without any normal engine load / normal running temperatures and sufficient engine revolution speed to flush out deposit buildups which inevitably occur within sitting and idling engines, and with the new major components fitted to the engine, I reasonably expected that the vehicle would have been driven on the road or exposed to normal driving conditions to ensure that the work was 'complete', and that new issues had not arisen as a result of the care and maintenance which the vehicle received during the 73 days.
I collected my car and within one minute of driving it, I received a warning of low tyre pressure, and as such I drove very slowly back to Farnham and upon arrival, I had my car tyres inflated to the correct pressures (documentary evidence available). This suggests that my tyre pressures were not checked before my car was released back to me.
Safe in the knowledge that my tyres were now inflated properly, I began driving the car again and applied pressure to the accelerator. This may have dislodged any build up of deposits or debris which was previously not dislodged, and the deposits may have been a result of the car having been idled excessively over the previous 73 days (documentary evidence available) which again does not reflect reasonable care and skill. It was also confirmed to me in writing by the garage (on 26/05/2020) that the engine had been left running on idle, and that it had not been tested under normal driving conditions / road tested.
The effects of excessive idling are likely to be:
- Depletion and contamination of engine oil
- Reduced lubrication and thus excessive strain on the camshaft, bearings, piston rings, timing chain, timing chain tensioners and other components
- Build up of deposits in the engine and exhaust system, (including the new DPF, the new EGR cooler and the EGR valve), resulting in potential blockage.
This final journey was two miles long, and took eleven minutes before I had to pull over. I turned the engine off to prevent avoidable damage being caused to it. I could tell from the loud knocking sounds from the engine and compromised power output that it could not be relied upon to drive safely. My engine exhibited symptoms of low engine oil / engine damage within 3 hours (15 miles total) of collecting the car, and it had to be recovered at the roadside.
The roadside vehicle recovery job report stated that to prevent further possible engine damage, the car must not be started as there was low engine oil. My intention was that the day after the car was transported to the recovery Company’s compound, I would make my own arrangements to have an independent qualified person inspect the condition of my vehicle and diagnose what was wrong and how it could have been caused, but this was made impossible by the following morning...
On the morning of 21st May 2020, my car was moved without my knowledge or consent from the recovery Company’s compound back to Barons Hindhead BMW, and despite the recovery Company’s report stating the engine should not be started due to low engine oil, the engine was started and idled at the garage for ten minutes at 09:08am before the engine stalled whilst the car was being loaded onto a ramp. The engine had not stalled when I was in possession of it on 20th May 2020. This indicates that this idling (and reliance on the engine to perform) resulted in damage substantial enough to make the engine stall. As a result of stalling, the vehicle rolled forward into a ramp in the workshop, thereby damaging the front bumper (confirmed by email from the garage on 22/05/2020).
On 22nd May 2020 at 10:15, via email, the garage e-mailed me and confirmed,
"The sound your car is making does give the impression the car has no oil”
and I was told by the garage that the engine oil level was “correct”, suggesting that the oil level was within normal range and could not have been a factor in this situation, contrary to the photographed and video recorded dipstick checks by two engineers immediately before vehicle recovery on the 20th May 2020.
Given the nature of the recovery of my vehicle, and the vehicle recovery report which stated that the engine should not be started due to low engine oil level, I believe it was negligent to run the engine in order to put the car on to a ramp in order to inspect and diagnose the engine’s knocking noise issue, due to the potential to cause damage to the engine, and the fact that there should have been no reliance on the engine to run predictably.
As well as the tyre pressures apparently not having been checked, it seems that the evidence available (already provided to the garage) suggests that the engine oil level was also not checked before the vehicle was released back to me on 20th May 2020 and I feel that this does not demonstrate execution of reasonable care and skill.
I expressed my concerns to the garage by email, and I was told:
"After carrying out a test on the EGR they found it was sticking causing the issues you have experienced. Our conclusion is this is just bad timing that it has failed, but we would like to replace the EGR valve”
“Barons Hindhead would like to get your car sorted and tested and back on the road”.
I relied upon this reassurance, proposal to fix, and statement of willingness to resolve the issue which was causing the engine to sound and behave abnormally, and in writing, I accepted this proposal and statement of intent. On the morning of 26th May 2020, the offer to resolve the engine noise complaint and engine running complaint was further confirmed to me by email and I was told in no uncertain terms, with no conditions attached, that:
"We will get the car fixed and then we will advise you once this is ready”
"We will get you back in your car as soon as possible as we are aware you are without transport”.
I relied upon this reassurance, accepted the offer and statement of intent, and in my reply I wrote,
“When is it predicted that my car will be tested, and ready for collection and drivable again?”.
I accepted the garage's proposal to do further work on the car on the basis that they would "get the car fixed” and advise me when it is ready for collection again.
‘Fix’, in the context of the email within which it was sent, referred to fixing the cause of the knocking noise which the engine was making. The garage told me via email that they believed that the EGR valve 'sticking' was the cause of the knocking engine noise issue, which I doubted to be the cause of the knocking noise in the engine (highlighted to them via email on 21st May 2020), however I was willing for the garage to do whatever they deemed to be necessary in order to "get the car fixed”.
A few hours after the offer to fix had been accepted and agreed, I received an email from the garage which said that fitting the new EGR valve was not the remedy required in respect of the problems with the engine knocking noise, and the offer of "We will get the car fixed and then we will advise you once this is ready” and the reassurance of "We will get you back in your car as soon as possible as we are aware you are without transport” were seemingly withdrawn. I was told that I would now have to pay for the diagnosis of the issue and this condition was not detailed in the garage’s original offer to me.
Under these circumstances, the retrospective imposition of such a condition is specifically prohibited by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. As per the legal process required in resolving problems with services provided, the engine running problem was reported to the garage in sufficient detail - extensive information and detail was provided to the garage about the symptoms and the suspected cause of the problems (unusual knocking noise, low power, signs of overheating and component fatigue, low engine oil, lack of lubrication, evidence of excessive idling). The garage misdiagnosed the problem (or did not execute reasonable care and skill in fully diagnosing the problem) and on the basis of that misdiagnosis, obtained authorisation from me to do whatever is necessary to fulfil the offer of “we will get the car fixed", and this offer was accepted and relied upon. The garage was given further opportunities to investigate and fix the problem and failed to do so. A trader cannot retrospectively add new conditions to an offer where that offer has been accepted, agreed and reasonably relied upon. Imposition of such a condition may have affected whether or not the offer would have been accepted with that condition attached. When a trader is in contract with a customer to provide a service to them, if the trader makes an offer to the customer pursuant to fulfilment of that contract and it is accepted and relied upon by the customer in attaining a reasonably expected outcome of the service, this forms part of the terms of the contractual agreement between both parties.
After 26th May 2020, I received numerous emails from the garage telling me that I must either agree to paying for investigation of the cause of the engine issue, or remove my car from their site, or else unspecified “further action” would be taken. I felt pressured into making a decision which I felt was unfair to ask of me.
I asked the garage several times whether or not their intention was to honour the accepted offer of "We will get the car fixed and then we will advise you once this is ready”, but this question was never directly answered.
It was seemingly not noted by the garage that if a customer’s car engine has symptoms of engine hesitation, reduced performance output and unusual noises after the EGR cooler has been replaced under the recall, then there is an internal BMW procedure through which the fault can be investigated free of charge to the customer. This could have enabled investigation of the issue by the garage at Barons Hindhead BMW.
Codes: INFO211056, 0011420500
I do not believe there is any doubt as to whether or not my car was in good working order before 9th March 2020. I have the previous 3 years of driving and vehicle data available from my insurer which demonstrates that it was in regular use. My car never failed an MOT, and servicing was always carried out inline with the service book. On March 9th 2020 my car driven at speed, up hill, to Hindhead from Farnham - no issues were reported by the driver. On 11th March 2020 it was confirmed by the garage in a Vehicle Health Check report that my engine and exhaust system was operating normally and my oil level was ok - no unusual sounds or issues reported. After I collected the car on May 20th, when I drove the car uphill, the engine exhibited issues which were not present before the car had been in the care of Barons Hindhead for 73 days.
Had my vehicle been taken care of, maintained and worked on with reasonable care and skill during the 73 days, I do not know of any reason as to why my engine would be likely to fail. Before 9th March, the engine had only completed circa 63k miles since being rebuilt in full by BMW under warranty in 2014, and according to BMW UK, any engine rebuilt under BMW Warranty should work as a new engine and be free from any known defect. I have been very mindful in regularly checking my oil level, coolant level, and topping up as required (evidence available) and in maintaining the function of the EGR valve and DPF by ensuring that the temperatures in the exhaust system reached sufficient levels for sufficient durations on a regular basis, as demonstrated by data from my GPS tracker over the past three years. The engine has not been abused by me, and between circa 84k (when purchased in 2015 at less than 3 years old) and 110k (milage now) there had been no running or knocking issues with my engine until after the 73 days it spent sitting and idling with Barons Hindhead BMW.
After 73 days of being stationary with abnormally excessive engine idling during that period, with no normal driving conditions or engine load, and two major components being replaced on the engine, it would demonstrate reasonable care and skill if the car were test driven under normal driving conditions prior to release to the customer to ensure it was safe and adequately reliable and to ensure that the work had been completed satisfactorily and that due care during vehicle storage and maintenance had been adequate. The test drive was an essential part of the reasonably expected service as it would be a reasonable test as to the adequacy of the work carried out and of the adequacy of the care and maintenance the vehicle has received whilst in the care of the garage.
The corona virus pandemic was cited as an excuse for the lack of road test drive under normal driving conditions, suggesting that under normal conditions, a test drive would have been reasonable.
There is no justifiable clinical or practical reason as to why a test drive could not have been completed in my vehicle after it had been in the care of the garage for 73 days. Therefore, the service provided which was reasonably expected was incomplete.
The evidence I have shared with the garage shows that reasonable care and skill has not been executed in many ways throughout the 73 days within which my car was with them, and I have requested that the service be corrected / repeated as per my rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The garage initially agreed to fix my car, but then later the same day decided not to honour the original agreement without imposing a new condition on the original accepted offer. My car was not exhibiting symptoms of any engine or EGR fault when it was collected by the garage on March 9th, or when it was inspected on March 11th. I assert that if Barons Automotive Ltd has any doubt as to the cause of the engine issue, the burden of proof lies with primarily with them, the Garage to demonstrate that their work has been carried out with reasonable care and skill and that the Garage have not contributed toward or caused the new symptoms to develop.
The Garage has been authorised by me to carry out work as required in order to deliver upon the accepted offer and promise of "We will get the car fixed and then we will advise you once this is ready” and I have requested that this promise be fulfilled several times by e-mail.
The offer made to me on 26th May 2020 of “We will fix your car and let you know when it is ready for collection” has not been fulfilled, and it is now June 23rd 2020. I am still without my vehicle. I am told that my vehicle still has the same engine symptoms (knocking noise) which it had upon it’s recovery on 20th May.
As per the procedural processes described in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, I feel I have now given Barons Automotive Ltd enough information and evidence and that the Company have had reasonable time and opportunity to fulfil this promise and to adhere to their legal responsibilities (34 days since becoming aware of the complaint).
It has been noted that persons seeking to assist in resolving this matter by obtaining objective facts as to the circumstances surrounding my vehicle, the service provided and damage present, have not found Barons Automotive Ltd to be as cooperative as would reasonably be expected.