Oh dear, oh dear...I just thought I'd share this. Yes, it's long-winded but I don't know whether to laugh or cry!
I have a friend who has been driving for 6 years; he inherited a Citroen Xsara from his parents that although not old at the time, hadn't been looked after, with no service history and some badly bent panels. His parents haven't exactly encouraged him to look after his car and commented that servicing was a waste of money. Combined with a less than sympathetic (though definitely not a boy racer) driving style and the fact that he was a student spending nothing on maintenance, this was always a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, despite what some say about French cars, this one soldiered-on to 127,000 miles before being written off by a drunk HGV driver on a roundabout.
At this point, my friend asked me to help him find a new car. Budget: £1,000. The problem was that he was in a hurry as he lives in the middle of nowhere and needed a car to get about. He looked at almost everything within budget, but no matter what he went to view, there was always a serious problem with it that would cost more money to fix than the value of the car. After looking at dozens of cars, we visited a dealer local to me. We weren't interested in image or performance and had even sunk to looking at a Daewoo Nubira, but there was a car there that stood out as being head and shoulders above the rest.
Despite the horror stories, this Rover 75 looked perfect. It was a 52-reg 1.8T Connoisseur with just 68k on the clock. It had a full service history, had been serviced only 4,000 miles ago and had had both the head gasket and cam belt changed recently. It was in extremely good condition for the age but was over budget at £1,700. I mentioned that it was a shame we couldn't consider it; the salesman said that he would knock it down to £1,500. However this was still 50% more than my friend had to spend. We went to look at another couple of cars - another Rover 75 and a Vectra...and after another wasted evening he decided that he would go back and buy the 75 from the garage, even though this would push him to the limit financially. However, this car was at a dealer after all and had a warranty.
We went to the garage early on Friday morning with the mindset that he'd buy it if it was up to scratch. I went on the Owners' Club website, found out all about the common issues and gave the car a thorough check over, a proper test drive from cold etc. I discovered two issues; the car was pulling to the left (due to a soft tyre) and when you gave it full throttle the boost would build, hesitate at about 2,500 rpm, then jolt forwards with a bang, leaving a puff of white exhaust smoke behind. This symptom was described on the OC site as being attributable to either a split hose on the turbo, or a turbo failure as a result of the prior head gasket failure - which made sense. What didn’t was that the dealer agreed to fix the fault if we bought the car which seemed generous, as a new turbo isn’t cheap. However, the salesman didn’t seem to know what the fault was and said he’d get one of his mechanics to look at it. Everything else was spot on and after double and triple checking that they’d fix the fault we did the deal at £1,500.
This is where the sensibilities end. The dealer took the car for an MOT (which it passed with no advisories) later that morning and had a look at the fault. I advised my friend that they'd probably want the car over the weekend to fix the problem and to let them keep it until it was right. However he was desperate for wheels as he had a weekend away booked with friends and he was supposed to be driving. Early in the afternoon, the dealer phoned to say that he could take the car for the weekend and that as long as he didn't "boot it" he would be fine until Monday morning (today), when he could bring it back for them to fix. Despite what I'd understood, they thought the issue was a camshaft sensor, apparently.
Despite my advice, my friend then collected his passengers and headed off. I got a phone call at some time later from one of the passengers to say that the car was smoking…I asked them to stop and investigate but they carried on as they were “near where they were going”. I spoke to my friend after he got to his destination and the “smoke” he described sounded like what I’d witnessed when test driving the car. I advised him to use common sense and if it didn’t look right, not to drive it. I didn’t hear from him again until this morning.
I got a phone call to say that he needed to talk to me and asked if he could meet me at my workplace. I agreed and he arrived at around midday. He told me that the garage had said there was a problem involving a pipe and that it’d “cooked the engine”. I told him not to worry, as they told him that he could drive the car like that and that it had a warranty. The garage is just down the road from my workplace and so I went to see the car on my lunch break. As I opened the bonnet, I saw it…and at this point the dealer told me that my friend had admitted that he’d continued driving after seeing the oil pressure warning light flicker. The oil breather pipe had come loose and the engine had proceeded to pump all of it’s oil out, all over the engine bay.
My friend then admitted to me that he’d continues to drive approximately 30 miles after seeing the warning light because he thought it was to do with the existing fault, had been told it was fine and was on his way to the garage at that point anyway. The engine is now absolutely buggered and dealer has obviously said that they can't accept responsibility for it. It doesn't exactly help matters that the car had basically been parked in a field all weekend and is covered in mud. - Not the kind of thing you want to do if you want to make a dealer sympathetic to your stupidity.
As I see it, my friend shot himself in the foot in rushing to take the car away, then emptied the whole magazine when he continued to drive with the oil pressure warning light on, flushing his consumer rights down the toilet in the process. Opinions please? What would you advise him to do next?