Ticking and hissing noises inside the car and a Bluetooth system which does not perform optimally when the vehicle travelled beyond 70km an hour are not defects enough to render the vehicle dysfunctional.

A Pretoria News report says this is according to five justices of the SCA after Abigail Wentzel demanded a refund for her then new Renault Kwid she had bought in December 2017, as it had too many problems.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) in an earlier ruling had ordered the dealership and Renault SA had to refund Wentzel the full amount she had to fork out for the car after financing. But Wentzel’s now three-year-old Renault Kwid managed to make it all the way to the SCA in Bloemfontein.

Renault SA and the car dealership successfully appealed the High Court judgment. Their main argument was that every time Wentzel complained that something was wrong with the car, they had fixed it.

Wentzel said despite numerous attempts by Renault to repair the vehicle, the defects remained unresolved.

According to the Pretoria News report, the dealership denied that the problems were so bad and said it fixed what needed to be fixed. Renault also submitted that Wentzel’s application to the High Court was premature, because she had not exhausted her remedies in terms of the other provisions of the Consumer Act.

The parties offered mutually destructive factual versions.

In Wentzel’s version, the defects were never resolved by Renault. Renault’s version is that all of the complaints raised by Wentzel on four occasions were resolved and no further complaints regarding the vehicle were brought to its attention.

‘Not every small fault is a defect as defined. It must either render the goods less acceptable than people generally would be reasonably entitled to expect from goods of that type, or it must render the goods less useful, practicable or safe for the purpose for which they were purchased. No evidence was led by either side to inform the court of what purchasers of entry-level motor vehicles are reasonably entitled to expect. Is every rattle or unfamiliar noise a defect in terms of the statute?’

The court concluded: ‘Does that render the vehicle defective so as to entitle the purchaser to return it and demand repayment of the purchase price? Clearly not.’

Full Pretoria News report

Judgment