As some of you know, I recently had to buy a new car as my old one blew a piston and valve in the beginning of December, while on the motorway (highway). (Sorry, this is a bit of a saga!)
I ended up getting exactly the same make and model and even colour to replace it, a Nissan Almera Tino. I bought it from Chris Green Cars, about 15 miles from me in Mepal, Cambridgeshire. The car seemed in decent condition when I drove it but there were a few warning signs that perhaps I should have heeded. He didn’t actually show me the car, someone else did, a young man in his early 20’s.
He mentioned the wrong price for the car, and thought that I would take the car that day, when in the UK you have to purchase Road Tax before you can drive a car off the lot, as it no longer carries over from one owner to the next. If you don’t have Road Tax, the car can be impounded and you’ll have to pay hundreds to get it back.
The car only had an MOT until February, and he offered the car with the cost of the MOT taken off (about £50) instead of having a new one done on purchase as the advert stated. I declined and a few hours later, he had done an MOT on the car. I picked it up the following morning, after buying the Road Tax online.
6 hours later, when we went to go grocery shopping, the engine fault light came on. I called Chris Green and he acted as if he couldn’t hear my say ‘the engine fault light has come on’ – “I have a bad signal and can’t hear you, cough, cough.” I took the car back to him the next morning and the code for the “catalytic converter working below threshold” came up on the diagnostic. He told me it was because I had bought petrol from the BP instead of the Esso. Hmm…
About a week later the engine fault light came on again and I took it to my garage, same code came up. A few hours later, you guessed it, back on. Called Chris again and he told me he couldn’t do anything about it until the New Year as he was closed. He wanted me to wait until Jan.9 to bring it in. Why Jan. 9 you ask? Because that’s the day the 30 day return clause was supposed to run out. I told him that was too long to wait, so he said Jan. 4th. I drove the car for almost 2 weeks with the engine fault light on over Christmas and New Years.
I took it back to him on the 4th; that night he called me to tell me he had cleaned the Lambda sensor and thought that would sort it. Cleaning a gas sensor is like dropping a camera lens and giving it a wipe figuring it will work when the inside is now misaligned. I said it would go off again, as he hadn’t actually fixed anything and that I would be back in the morning to pick up my car. I told him I would be there at 9AM, but he wasn’t, it took 5 calls to his mobile and 25 minutes to get him to answer and he had no apology at all, just gave me my car key and walked off. I had to take 2 buses from his business to get home (over 2 hours) and then take them back again the next day with my son in tow).
The engine fault light came on 5 days later, on Saturday. I called the Citizens’ Advice Helpline on Monday (they aren’t open on weekends) and in the conversation with them, found out that I could still hand him the car back that day, as there is a 7 day ‘accept or refuse repair’ regulation in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for faulty items. I wanted him to replace the catalytic converter, as I need a car, so I called him and left a message on his mobile & home numbers. My husband called him 2 hours later and he picked up. 2 hours after that, I called again and he finally answered. He knew he was going to have to sort out the car, but was probably hoping I’d give up. I was apparently being unreasonable in expecting a quick call-back, and in expecting him to repair the car quickly.
According to the Consumer Rights Act, the repair should be done: “At no cost to the consumer (me), at no inconvenience to me, and in reasonable time.”(A reasonable time isn’t 37 days). He should have also repaid me for the bus fares I spent on Monday and Tuesday the previous week. I didn’t ask him to, as I felt he would just argue again with me and the effort wasn’t going to be worth it for £9. He finally agreed to order the part and pick up the car when he had it.
It took 4 more days before the part even shipped, and another 2 days to arrive. During this time, he never answered the phone if he could see it was our home or mobile numbers. We had to block caller ID for him to pick up, and we had to chase him for everything, the tracking number for the part, when he was going to come and get the car. He wasn’t proactive at all in sorting the car at all. He picked up the car on Jan. 18 and brought it back 4 hours later, saying he’d replaced the catalytic converter. (He came to our house in a little silver BMW soft-top sports car, with a 12” or so rip in the rear window, which is plastic. With condensation on the inside of the plastic. Hmmm…)
I took it to my garage the next day and they had a look; they said they thought it was a reconditioned catalytic converter that had been spray painted to look newer. Not necessarily a dodgy thing to do, but I should have been told it was a 2nd hand part, and he should never have taken 37 days to fix the car – he knew 6 hours after I took it off his lot that there was a fault on it, and knew the next morning that it was likely he’d have to replace the catalytic converter. He also admitted to using the car for a few weeks for personal use – on dealer’s plates – to drive his family in it and had put a few hundred miles on it. Chris Green did send in the paperwork to the DLVA (DMV) right away; I got the log book in about 4 weeks.
All in all, not the best experience to say the least. Would I buy from him again? No, I wouldn’t. Could I recommend a friend look at another of his cars for sale? No, I couldn’t, which is a shame as I do prefer to support local businesses. The car drives well and is in good condition considering its age, but that is down to the previous owner looking after it and servicing it properly.
It would have been lovely to have no worries over driving this car over Christmas and New Years’ – we didn’t go to some of the places we planned on as we weren’t sure if the car would keep running or if the catalytic converter would pack it in. I am hoping that this fault has now been fixed and I can now feel like the car is mine.