The vendor bears primary responsibility for any defect in a new car
The company that sold the car bears primary responsibility for any defect in a new car. The vendor cannot force the consumer to agree on repairs or other compensation with the importer or a provider of after-sales service. Should the consumer so wish, he or she may also address a complaint to the importer or manufacturer.
It is recommended that the consumer first negotiate any issues concerning defects in a car with the other party to the sales contract, i.e. the vendor. If it is necessary to take the matter to a higher level, in most cases demands should be addressed to the importer, who is the manufacturer’s representative.
The manufacturer and importer are not responsible for any defects that have arisen for reasons independent of them after the car was handed over to the retailer. For instance, they are not responsible for defects that have arisen due to incorrect information provided by the seller, or defects in any servicing or repairs performed on the car.
The warranty period of a new car
The validity of a new car warranty is specified in the warranty certificate. In most cases, the warranty is valid for a certain period of time or for a certain mileage, beginning from the first date of registration, or the first date of commissioning or transfer of the vehicle to the buyer, depending on which of the dates comes first. The warranty ends when the warranty period, based on time or mileage, expires.
The warranty will not expire if the owner of the car changes during the warranty period. The warranty policy may include a restriction according to which the warranty will expire if the first buyer of a new car transfers the car to an entrepreneur in the car business during the warranty period, and the warrantor has not extended the validity of the warranty. The warranty will also expire if the car is redeemed by an insurance company after motor vehicle damage.
The warranty may also expire if the structure of the car or engine programming is modified without the written permission of the warrantor. In such a case, the warranty will not, however, expire for any parts of the car that are not affected by the modifications.
The warranty policy may include exceptions to the validity and expiry of warranty. Each issue should therefore be checked on a case-by-case basis in the warranty policy.
Defect in a new car
A defect in a car is the vendor's responsibility if
- a technical fault or defect is detected in the car
- the car does not correspond to what was agreed when the sale was concluded
- false or incorrect information was provided about the car
- information fundamental to the conclusion of the sale has been kept secret
Not all cars are the same in terms of quality standards. Therefore, it is not always clear what constitutes a defect and what is a natural feature of the car. Some properties in a car may cause discomfort but cannot be classified as defects. For instance, tyre noise levels may vary depending on the type of tyres fitted on the car and the road surface being driven on.
None of the properties of a car should, however, prevent its normal use or endanger traffic safety. Any expectations that arise constitute grounds for considering whether a particular feature of a car is considered a property or a defect. Expectations regarding the quality of a car are influenced by information provided during marketing and the notion of the product created during the sale.
Repair of a defect
Establishing a defect when the warranty is valid
The vendor is responsible for any defects in the car in accordance with the warranty policy it provided. The vendor is also responsible for the warranty granted by the manufacturer or importer, unless the vendor has specifically stated otherwise prior to the sale.
The party granting the warranty is liable, at its own expense, to eliminate any defects that arise during the warranty period. The liability will be voided, however, if the warrantor can prove that the defect was caused by the buyer, as, for example, in the case of:
- improper use
- failure to carry out proper maintenance in accordance with the maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer
- external damage or an accident.
During the warranty period, the buyer cannot be required to pay for diagnostics (i.e. measures undertaken to find the fault or defect). This does not apply if the buyer has clearly brought the car in for repair groundlessly, or has caused a fault or defect of which he or she should have been aware.
Establishing the presence of a defect when the warranty has expired
After the warranty period has expired, the burden shifts to the consumer to prove the existence of a defect for which the company is responsible.
No time limits are set by law for the vendor’s liability for defects. Instead, the period depends on the expected useful life of the car or defective part. In other words, the company’s liability does not end when the warranty period expires.
If diagnostics prove the car to be free of defects, in most cases the company is entitled to charge the customer a reasonable sum for diagnostics, as long as this has been mentioned or agreed in advance.Repair of a defect
Compensation for damage