Court Awards RM 90k In Settlement For Defective New VW

A defective Volkswagen Polo Sedan nets its frustrated owners more than RM 90k in damages. 

To anyone out there who has ever encountered the misfortune of owning with a defective new car, one might soon discover that there has always not been much recourse legally at least. This however might soon not be the case anymore, as precedent has recently been set for Malaysian motorists to be able to hold these new car distributors to task when having received a lemon of a new car. 

This precedent stems from recent court verdict in which the plaintiff was awarded over RM 90,000 in damages for the loss of use of a defective new car. In a case that was brought up by the manager of Poratha Corporation against FA Wagen, sessions court judge Mabel Sheela Muttiah has ruled that the plaintiff has, on the balance of probability, proved its case the defendant in regards to the Consumer Protection Act 1999. 

Speaking more on the case at hand, this suit revolves around a Volkswagen Polo Sedan 1.6 that was bought by the manager of Poratha Corporation on the 15th of March 2013 for his wife to send their children to school. A month after delivery of this brand new VW, mechanical faults and defects began appearing and hence the car was unable to be used for nearly three years, from the 27th of September 2013 to the 17th of March 2016. 

Among the laundry list of mechanical problems this month-old car had were defects with its transmission and engine mounts. There was also evidence of a warped brake disk which caused juddering under braking, a faulty air conditioning system in addition to a driver’s seat that kept moving as it could not be locked in a secure position. 

Furthermore, the battery and the tyres of this new Volkswagen had to be replaced within a short span of time after the purchase. And on top of that, the plaintiff had to hire another car at a cost of RM 200 a day from 15th of October 2013 to 13th March 2016 when the Polo Sedan was left at FA Wagen’s service centre for repair. 

In an 18-page judgement regarding the case, judge Muttiah has said that based on evidence by two witnesses and also on documents, there were “real and fundamental” defects to the plaintiffs car. Moreover, as the car was still under warranty at the time, the defendant was obligated to carry out the repairs and rectify the defects for the car to be roadworthy, and it was ruled that the defendant in this particular case had failed to do so within a reasonable time.

Going by the Consumer Protection Act 1999, which states that there is an implied guarantee that the goods supplied to a consumer shall be of acceptable quality, the sessions court judge has found that the statutory provision of ‘acceptable quality’ and ‘fit for purpose’ is wholly applicable in this case. It therefore has lead to the judgement which allowed the plaintiff to claim RM1,779 in special damages, as well as RM88,300 for the loss of use of the car and interest that was mentioned in the statement of claim.

FA Wagen has filed an appeal in the high court. 

Additionally, in a passing remark with regards to the aforementioned case, the judge had suggested that the government should look into adding a Lemon Law into the books. “The Lemon Law is a remedy for purchasers of consumer products, particularly motorised vehicles, that repeatedly fail to meet the standards of quality and performance,” said the judge, adding that Singapore already has such legislation.

As cars get increasingly technical in this modern age, there has been increasing reports of increasingly frustrated owners who are left with terminally broken brand new cars that they forked over many hundreds of thousands for. A Lemon Law therefore would therefore provide a better legal avenue for consumers to take these manufacturers to task regarding these defective components that not only cause frustration in the best case scenario, but may also be lethal in some more unfortunate cases. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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