Author: Richard Robinson

  • Q3 saw the number of vehicle service and repair cases logged by The Motor Ombudsman rise to the highest level for a single quarter this year.
  • The drivetrain area of the vehicle drove the most consumer dissatisfaction, followed by the level of customer service delivered by businesses.
  • Diesel cars were the source of over half of service and repair complaints brought to The Motor Ombudsman during Q3.

Between 1st July and 30th September, The Motor Ombudsman (TMO) for the automotive sector accepted 1,348 new submissions from motorists – up 10% from Q2. The number was also up 135 on Q3 2022.

Diesel cars drove over half (52%) of the service and repair complaints in the past three months, followed by petrol models (40%), electric vehicles (4%) and hybrids (4%).

A little over half of complaints related to “drivetrain” disputes, with the engine responsible for 73% of these complaints. This was followed by the transmission (15%) and the fuel and exhaust systems driving 12% of complaints respectively in this category.

Consumer concerns in the drivetrain area included engine failures due to incorrectly fitted oil filters and turbos, and reconditioned gearboxes being installed on vehicles before getting customer consent.

Disappointingly, the customer service experience accounted for the second-highest number of disputes (17%). An element of discontent originated from factors such as prolonged delays to repairs, sometimes without the provision of a courtesy car. Vehicles being damaged while in the care of a business and customers paying for diagnostic work that did not identify the root cause of the faults were also reported.

Issues relating to the chassis area of the vehicle, which takes in the likes of the suspension, brakes, wheels and steering, were responsible for just over 10% of complaints. Problems highlighted by consumers who sought help resolving their case resulted from different tyre sizes being fitted on a single axle and cars having winter and summer tyres simultaneously. Other disputes related to shock absorber failures causing uneven ride heights and brakes malfunctioning following software updates.

Reflecting on the findings, Richard Robinson noted: “It would be easy to point to an ageing car parc and pressure on consumer budgets as drivers of the rise in dissatisfaction, and these may be contributory factors. Nevertheless, any rise has to be seen as disappointing, particularly in customer service. Trying to be positive, at least the information gives the industry some clear improvement action point areas at a dealer level – no matter how good they think their current performance might be.”