Old cam belt caused engine failure - is the dealer liable for repair costs?

I bought an old motorhome last August and the dealer did quite a bit of work on it prior to collection. He paid for a service and cam belt change at his usual local garage. However, the cam belt tensioner failed in May and caused major top end damage. The belt was inspected by an independent garage and is definitely not new, therefore I can assume the tensioner bolt is also old (hence the failure). I've contacted the motorhome supplier, who is slow in responding. As I did not pay for the cam belt change (which was not carried out), what legal options do I have?

Asked on 21 June 2017 by alister

Answered by Dan Powell
Common problem when the water pump and tensioners have not been replaced at the same time as the belt. If this had happened within the first six months of ownership then the dealer would have been automatically liable for all of the damage and repair costs. These are your consumer rights: www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/

With an independent report, you could claim that there was a problem with the vehicle when they sold it to you. However, if the dealer refuses to accept liability, you’ll have to take it to the small claims court to recover the money. Before doing anything, I'd recommend trying to resolve this amicably. A reputable dealer should - when faced with an independent report - accept that they're liable for the fault. Start by making an official complaint to the dealer and keep a record of all emails or letters. If, after giving them an opportunity to put this right, they flatly refuse to help, get some legal advice. The small claims can help you claim up to £10,000 in England and Wales.
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