When you are buying a car you’re thinking with your heart, not your head.
You’re already dreaming about you and the object of your affections/lust/wallet cruising up and down Brisbane’s hot hipster heaven, La Trobe Terrace in Paddington, in the set of wheels that came courtesy of your midlife fantasy. You’re not thinking is my car really new, will the service department really rip you off, is this red and black beauty really the subject of a recall, and did you really drop 40 per cent of what you paid when you drove out of the showroom?
Today in the first of a two-part series, our luxury car industry whistleblower gives us the facts on how some of Big Auto is taking you for a ride.
Is my car really new? Elvis Boustani bought a “new” Audi Q7 and Sharyn Briggs bought a “new” Audi TT. Both paid new-car tax and luxury tax. Both cars were actually old and that caused warranty problems Audi tried to renege on.
Our luxury car insider says: “New vehicles are regularly registered as demos for the sole purpose of dealers meeting the often unrealistic targets set by their makers. They then languish in the sales yard or showroom sometimes for years. Usually the buyer isn’t told that the car has already been registered. I have heard the sales person say ‘yes it has a full three-year warranty’. The crunch time comes when the vehicle is in for a warranty repair and the warranty has expired.
“Buying a new car? Always ask if it has already been registered even if it’s not fitted with number plates. The other two painful issues are ‘build date’ and ‘compliance date’. The dealer will always try to sell the vehicle based on the compliance date, but when it comes to trade-in time they will always value the trade on build date. The build date is on a sticker, which gives the VIN (vehicle identification number). It’s when the car was completed at the factory. The compliance date plate (showing it has met the Australian Design Rules) is stuck to the vehicle after it has arrived in Australia.
“The differences between the two dates can sometimes be years. I have seen differences of over three years! One car had a five-year difference. A few months’ difference is quite normal but when, say, 2014 rolls over to 2015, it will hit your hip pocket for sure.”
Doesn’t the warranty guarantee trouble-free cruising? Boustani’s Audi Q7 was off the road for 13 weeks, costing him thousands of dollars. Audi’s response: offer him two tickets to a soccer game. Adrian Taylor’s Q7 was off the road for nearly six months. As a gesture of goodwill Audi offered to drop it home to him. They crashed it and when they left it, it had an obviously repaired front end. Colin Dockery had similar problems with his Passat (from the same stable as Audi). Glen Drake’s Audi A5 (purchased new) suffered a gearbox failure at 80,000km, 30 days past warranty expiry.
Read the rest at The Australian to find out one of the most common problems with Audis
Next week more stories from the car trade, but for now let me leave you with a picture of the most expensive US concept car to sell at auction ($4.5 million) and point out that the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville has had no warranty problems since 1954.