I received this query earlier today with permission to share it on site. Your input would be welcomed.
Scenario: You are the owner of a 10 year old car which you bought second hand 2 years ago from a used-car lot in Melbourne. From day 1 of your ownership it has had an annoying symptom of being difficult to drive off the mark when cold. Sort of sputters and bogs down when you let the clutch in, almost to the point of stalling, often necessitating starting the process from scratch. Once underway it is pretty much fine, especially after the engine warms up.
The car doesn’t use excessive oil and returns good fuel consumption. The symtom only manifests in 1st or reverse gear and is most noticeable when cold. The local dealership for the brand (not SAAB, I should add) haven’t been able to reproduce the fault despite having the car overnight for a cold start-up and it hasn’t thrown up any fault codes when plugged to their diagnostic computer. (I suspect it is dumping too much fuel into the inlet side for some reason, on start up but this has yet to be proven).
You are now at the point of sale of the above car to a purchaser who has test-driven the car and placed a deposit on it.
Question: Do you disclose the above or not? What would you do?
Personally speaking, and before things got to the deposit stage…..
I probably would have made sure I was along for the test drive and if the car sputtered at that time, I would have made mention of it then. I would have described how it had been checked out and provided the name of the technician who worked on it and mentioned how it seems to be a cold-condition affliction that they couldn’t pin down. The car would have hopefully backed up this testimony by running fine as the drive progressed.
As it is, it sounds like the buyer has driven the car and is happy enough to proceed so I’d probably let it go. I’m not sure, but I don’t think most people will expect a 10 year old manual car to be completely smooth off the line when cold, anyway.
The one caveat on that is whether or not the potential buyer drove the car ‘cold’. If they’ve experienced it cold, all well and good. If the car wasn’t test driven in circumstances that would lend it to revealing the problem, then maybe mentioning it now would be a good idea.
From my own experience, I’ve appreciated it when sellers have told me of issues or potential issues. It gives me the chance to weigh up whether or not I’m happy to live with it. Occasionally it can also lead to some further negotiation on price, but not always.
On the other hand, I’ve occasionally bought cars with problems that weren’t disclosed. I haven’t tried to return them or negotiate money back, but let’s just say the seller didn’t make my Christmas card list.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, but “do unto others…..” etc.