FIAT air throttle for Fiat Ovation motorhome

We recently had ongoing issues with our motorhome (2008 Ovation Avan) which took 18 months to fix. Briefly, there was an engine light coming on (on the dashboard); our mechanic (Pacific Hino, Cairns) worked out that a new (FIAT) air throttle was needed. They sourced a new (FIAT) air throttle from Irelands, the local FIAT dealer and we paid a significant bill (~$1300). The problem was solved for a couple of months and then the same (engine) light came back on. The motorhome was taken back to the mechanics (Pacific Hino), a new air throttle (from Irelands) was fitted and the problem was solved for another month or so and then the same (engine) light came back on again! The third time the motorhome went in, it was sent to Irelands (FIAT dealer) who just happened to have a similar vehicle in the workshop. They took the air throttle out of this vehicle and put it into ours and the fault was fixed (the engine light on dashboard went out). IRELANDS SERVICE MANAGER ADVISED THAT THEY HAD FOUND THAT THE THROTTLE VALVE ASSEMBLY (they had supplied for our vehicle not once, but twice!) HAD BEEN SUPERSEDED AND WAS IN FACT NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FITTED ANY LONGER."

Thanks to Choice, we are aware of our consumer rights under the Australian Consumer Law. We think the original two products (FIAT air throttles) failed to meet the consumer guarantees for acceptable quality and fitness for purpose. In fact, we think the failures were major failures and that we should be compensated for not one, but two superseded parts that should never have been supplied to us in the first place.

This ongoing saga not only cost us a lot of money, but caused us huge angst for over 18 months, when we knew we had a big trip planned and had no idea whether the vehicle would be fit to drive.

We have contacted FIAT (Australia) directly, to no avail. We then contacted QLD Office of Fair Trading, again to no avail. We would like to let it be known that we feel strongly that it is very disappointing that OFT does not have more power (teeth) to force businesses to “do the right thing”. Fiat definitely have NOT done the right thing by us in this case…I very much doubt it would “pass the pub test”…


Wecome to the Community @Mena

When things go wrong with vehicles, they can go wrong and lead to frustrations.

But when it comes to the ACL and consumer rights, vehicles differ somewhat.

There are three parties involved in this repair, and as I see it, all three could claim they dealt with your problem in a responsible manner.

The repairer, who fixed the problem, although it was not a long-lasting fix. You don’t say, but the money paid was for the first repair. The second done without charge as a warranty on the new part?

The dealer who supplied the new part twice. Maybe unaware that the part was superceded and simply supplied the part they had in stock when asked by the repairer for that part. Maybe only became aware when they ordered a new part from Fiat to replace the one taken from another vehicle and were told it had been superceded by another unit.

The manufacturer, Fiat, who doesn’t really care once the vehicle is out of warranty period.

Now, I doubt you could argue that this was a major defect. Such a defect would render the vehicle as undrivable or dangerous.

Also, any office of fair trading is basically an advisory body with no power at all to deal with issues between customers and businesses.

Possibly a QCAT action could be taken, but you would have to prove your case.

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The ACCC provides the following guidance. Relevant to the discussion is the section of the doc referring to Services.

One test of a major failure relating to a repair is whether the consumer would have proceeded with the repair if they knew the component supplied was not the correct or recommended part for the repair or it might fail shortly after installation?

Hopefully @Mena has a documented record and correspondence from their repairer and subsequently the local Fiat agent confirming all the details as described in the OP.

As the first two repairs that proved ineffective were with an independent repairer it would be consistent with consumer law for the consumer to make claims for compensation or remedy directly with the independent repairer. It may be the incorrect part was supplied. That would be a matter for the independent repairer to take up with their supplier. The independent repairer owns the problem and is responsible to the customer for the outcome. The independent repairer assuming they diagnosed the fault correctly and provided the correct information to the parts supplier has separately the ability to seek compensation under the ACL from their supplier.

The subsequent third repair with the local Fiat agent is an independent event, as far as it has been explained in the OP. It is stated this repair has been successful. However it’s not clear from the OP whether the part used was a new part or second hand part removed from the other vehicle. If it was a used or reconditioned part it needs to be accepted in writing by the consumer. Hopefully it was a brand new part that had been ordered for the repair of the other vehicle.

Further details of the claims made on the independent repairer for remedy or compensation may assist in understanding what has transpired. It may also offer some insight as to how to proceed with reference to a consumer claim in QLD, despite the response previously from the State Office of Fair Trade. There is an assumption given the reference to Choice all claims were made formally in writing following the guidelines available.