Buying a motor vehicle: A case study:

During the last week; we have received numerous queries about what to do when you buy a new or second hand motor vehicle of any sort and it turns out to be a defective vehicle.

There are numerous examples to choose from in our files; but we have decided to give you this case study.

A client of ours in Durban bought a used car from a reputable dealership on the South Coast of KZN; and went as far as to do due diligence and to check on the reputation of the dealership before even approaching them.

Our client Mr A actually made enquiries with Mercedes Benz SA and was given a recommendation to deal with them as reliable dealers.

For the sake of clarity we will refer to the dealership as XYZ Motors.

One tends to forget that one of the most important decisions a consumer makes during their lifetime is when and where, from time to time, to buy a motor vehicle.

Motor vehicles are big value items, cost money to run and maintain and are a depreciating asset. In most people’s lives, for all the above reasons, the buying and selling of a motor vehicle only happens a couple of times in their lifetime.

To continue Mr A’s experience.

On the 10th August 2017, having done his due diligence; he went to XYZ Motors to make his purchase.

He had decided on a Mercedes Benz and wanted a good quality “used” vehicle.

After discussing his requirements with the sales personnel and also the dealer principle at XYZ Motors, he chose a 2014 Mercedes Benz C 180 Estate and its was agreed that the purchase price would be R 320500.00; with a deposit of R 70500.00 and that the balance of the nett purchase price of R 25000.00 would be financed by agreement by his bankers Wesbank.

His application for finance was approved through the dealership and he paid the agreed deposit on the 15th August 2017 and collected the vehicle.

A week later the vehicle started to give problems.

First; a warning light appeared and the motor unexpectedly overheated. Mr A immediately notified XYZ Motors who arranged to tow the vehicle into their workshop for a checkup. They told him that it was a radiator and thermostat problem and fixed the vehicle at their expense and returned it to Mr A.

A month later; the same thing happened.

This time XYZ motors were reluctant to help again stating that their 1 month warranty had expired and refused to assist him. Mr A was not happy with this response.

He approached us and we intervened on his behalf with the dealership.

After much discussion and a mediation by us on his behalf and even having to resort to a formal demand and threat of civil suit; the dealership eventually relented and an agreement of settlement was reached by us, on behalf of MR a with the dealership.

In terms of the settlement the dealership took back the vehicle, paid Mr A back his deposit and repaid the sum due to Wesbank on his behalf and each party then agreed to carry any other costs themselves.

It ended up with Mr A getting what he wanted; but it did cost him a total of R 4000.00 in intervention fees paid to us for our services. He was happy with that result and bought himself another vehicle shortly afterwards at another dealership.

The same intervention processes and procedures apply to the purchase of all major consumer items in addition to and not only to motor vehicles.

You would be strongly advised therefore if you find yourself in a similar situation to contact us at The Legal Advice Office to attend to this or any intervention process for you; and not to attempt to do so on your own as you do not normally have the necessary legal or practical experience; or expert knowledge to do so.

If you have experienced difficulties with buying a new or used car in the last six months; contact The Legal Advice Office at or at one of our email addresses; either or

Should you wish to comment on this or any other legal topic; just send us an e-mail and we will respond as soon as we can.

In tomorrow’s blog, we will again emphasise the initial steps to be taken when you have bought a defective vehicle be it new or used.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.