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Car electrical problems - small claims tribunal (long) -help

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by disk_1, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Hey everyone,

    Here is the story, bear with me.

    My last email correspondance with ******** from ******** is below. For legal reasons I have removed all names. Gotta be safe I guess.

    Short and sweet version

    Alarm/immobilizer installation on 1994 Peugeot 205 GTI in February 2006.

    9/2/2006 to 6/10/2006 – various electrical problems not experienced before alarm installation. Attached report states this. Intermittent problem resulted in delay in seeking help from original installer.

    06/10/2006 – Vehicle was inspected by mechanic for intermittent stalling problems. Suggested alarm was responsible as all mechanical, electrical avenues had been explored. Attached invoice shows this

    12/10/2006 – Vehicle was inspected again for intermittent stalling problems. Suggested again alarm was responsible as all mechanical, electrical avenues had been explored

    13/10/2006 – Vehicle inspected by ******* group (****** subcontractor) and alterations made to alarm/imobiliser
    - Vehicle returned and within 2-3 minutes had broken down and would not start and showing wide range of electrical problems. These include car locking occupants inside the vehicle when the key was removed from ignition barrel, doors constantly locking and unlocking themselves.
    - I contacted ***** group again and complained and technician came onsite and removed alarm. Car would not run and I was told the alarm/immobilizer was not responsible. Damage had been caused by this point. Also told wiring is not placed into vehicle ECU. I have a report(attached) from mechanic stating otherwise. No option of further inspection was given

    14/10/2006 – Vehicle towed to mechanics. Instantly showed ECU faults and Air flow meter faults. Parts had to be replaced. These faults were not found the day before being taken to ****** group.

    **** BEGIN ***

    Response in regards to your below email. I am writing this email so you understand the full story as many of your points/arguments are false.

    The delay in getting the vehicle inspected by your service centre was due to the fact that it was an intermittent problem that was initially hard to trace. I delayed seeking help from your company and other parties because I wanted to make sure all other avenues had been explored. The fact that it was an intermittent problem resulted in delay. As shown in the first attached invoice from the 6/10/06 it states that if further problems exist the alarm should be looked at. I pursued this as all other mechanical avenues had been explored. This resulted in the car being brought to the service centre in ********.

    The vehicle was at ******* in ****** the day before the vehicles alarm had been inspected/altered and had shown no electrical or other faults. This lead me to seek advice from your service centre in Burwood who advised me to bring my vehicle in.

    The car was returned later that day with alterations made to the alarm/immobilizer. Within five minutes the car had exhibited problems never experienced before. Examples include, the car locking the occupants inside the vehicle when the key was simply removed from the ignition barrel. Another example was when the key was removed from the car door after attempting to gain entry, the vehicle would continuously lock and unlock itself. These issues in itself highlight that there was a serious problem in regards to the alarm or the wiring of the alarm and any changes you made on that date. Later (24hours) examination showed that the vehicle had damaged various electrical components. These components were all fine the day before your ********* centre made alterations to my vehicles alarm/immobilizer.

    Further more, I was told that in no way was the alarm or immobilizer wired into the ECU. The attached report from ******** from ****** states that it was wired into the cars ECU.

    On the vehicle being towed to ******** in ****** the mechanic was instantly able to withdraw error messages from the cars engine management system. These included, replace ECU and air flow meter faults. These faults had never been displayed in the previous day before my vehicle was assessed by the *********** centre.

    In the below email you state that no opportunity was given for your technicians to inspect the vehicle. That is completely false. The opportunity existed when the vehicle was stranded minutes after being retuned to me and, as explained to staff at the ******** centre was showing completely new electronic faults. After the alarm was completely removed by an onsite technician no opportunity to have the vehicle further inspected was given to me. My concerns were dismissed and I had no choice other than to again seek arrangements with my mechanic at ********. What other opportunity existed to me?

    In regards to my failure to make an appointment to have my vehicle viewed after being in contact with your security installation co-coordinators. I spoke to you about this. I explained in the phone conversation that this was of no benefit to myself or my vehicle. All failed electrical components and wiring had been removed/replaced at that point. No appointment was made and an explanation was given to you as outlined above.

    Your point that I ‘elected’ to have work carried out my car is ridiculous. I was not given any other choice. My concerns were dismissed and I was given misleading information in regards to the wiring of the alarm and my vehicles ECU. I did not act outside the warranty conditions as I was forced by the inability of staff/technitions etc to accept fault or at least accept the possibility of fault and inspect my vehicle. Under that argument you failed to honour the warranty conditions and help me resolve the problem. Every opportunity was given at the point before and after the failure of my vehicles engine management system to have the vehicle inspected and problems rectified. I was told the alarm/immobilizer could not be responsible for my vehicles problems and sought other avenues for repairs. Again, I was told the alarm/immobilizer was not wired into the ECU and that the alarm/immobilizer would not be responsible. What other opportunity existed?

    I am not prepared to return the alarm as I have no guarantee on work carried out will be honest and fair. Other factors are also possible in regards to this matter which include the alarms/immobilizers wiring. This would be impossible for you to examine. I again bring your attention to the fact that I was told on several occasions that the alarm/immobilzer was not wired into the vehicles ECU. I have a statement from my mechanic stating otherwise.

    I will seek alternative routes for full compensation. I did not seek reimbursement for other mechanical work carried out on my vehicle that can be attributed to the alarms installation, towing costs and costs directly associated with the failure of my vehicle as a result of the faulty alarm or wiring such as time off work and inconvenience. I will seek reimbursement for all costs outlined above.

    I have been reasonable in my expectations from your company in regards to this matter and my timeline still stands.


    Basically. The company involved has been extremely unhelpful and dismissive.

    They claim their alarm/immobilizer could not cause the damage to my vehicles ECU etc.

    My question is for anyone with electrical knowledge. Can an alarm potentially cause damage to components in a vehicle? I have been told that there is definately ways components can be damaged by alarm/immobilizer intallations.

    They claim that there is no way.

  2. I had a central locking kit installed in my Hilux that would occasionally lock/unlock itself for no reason.
    I was incredibly LUCKY enough to discover the fault myself as an incorrectly fitted wire clip.

    Your alarm runs on electricity, it will be connected to both the battery and your vehicles electrical system [engine: ECU in this instance].
    All cars have fuses to prevent damage by full/excess voltage from battery.

    --> hell yes an incorrectly fitted electrical appliance in your vehicle can mess with the electrical system and cause problems/damage.

    It looks like you have documented the circumstances and your claim well.
    A Dep Fair Trading hearing would most likely find in your favour [they hate companies anyway... usually on 'the little guy's' side] - just be aware they will always go through mediation first.
    Decide beforehand whether you are prepared to let this alarm company attempt to reinstall their product correctly, free of charge, or not.

    I think it would be perfectly acceptable for you to have the view "No. They have done enough damage already. I can not trust my vehicle to [this] company. I prefer to return the alarm components to [this] company and expect a full refund for the alarm and work carried out, as well as reimbursement for all resulting repair-work required [and carried out by other parties] as a result of the faulty product and/or installation."
  3. I had an intermittent stalling problem at the beginning. It was impossible to attribute a stalling problem to an alarm installation at the beginning.

    Air flow meters, ignition modules, ECU's, oxygen sensors and 10 other items were investigated as possible culprits. Luckily 95% of those items were trial units so my out of pocket expenses were minimised.

    I organised the car the be inspected again by the original installer. The car literally 2 minutes after being picked up did the car completely break down and show the below problems.

    When you then removed the key from the ignition it would lock the occupants inside the vehicle.
    When you removed the key from the door the car would continuously lock and unlock itself.

    The company then claimed I gave them no opportunity to fix the problem and thus voided my warranty because I got it repaired elsewhere. They back peddled pretty quickly when they saw my frustration and my pages of notes and dates of conversations etc.

    This company is a subsidiary of a huge national company. I was shocked that my claims were so readily dismissed. My age I believe greatly attributed to their dismissal of my claim.

    My only option is the small claims tribunal now.

    I ideally need an independant electrical specialist who can say that it is possible for it to cause the damage. Then, with my circumstantial evidence I believe makes it a very strong case. ie. My car died and had all sorts of problems minutes after leaving the service centre.

    Any body with a solid electrical background willing to help me out?

    wish me luck

  4. Have you spoken to a Peugot dealer?

    You need a report that diagnoses what the problem is and how it was caused [to attribute liability], and then a quote to repair [so there is a cost figure for you to claim].

    Saying "It did work and now it doesn't, after YOU guys did something to it" may be the truth, but it doesn't solve the problems of
    1) Getting our car back in working order.
    2) Getting a judge to order the company to pay you a specific figure or even attribute blame to them in the first place.
  5. What was the make and model of alarm you had installed?, did it come with it's own remote control or did it work with the cars existing ones?

    I used to own a 1994 Pug 306 myself and the alarm installation did not require any interfacing with the ECU
  6. if it's an immobiliser unit then it would need to connected to the ECU.

    I'd say that "Disk 1" is going to have to drag these people through the small claims system. Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is a pretty friendly system to use. I think that it's under Dept. of Justice/Consumer Affairs website.

    Sounds like he's done everything right - documented evidence all the way through. What he needs to get this mob to remove the alarm and restore the vehicle to its previous condition and to refund him costs. Then look for a reputable dealer and supplier. Maybe a geniune Peugot unit?

    I wouldn't be bothering trying to get it fixed now. Too late for that, I think. Get it removed, restored to original and recoup costs. Too much mucking around, otherwise.

    Good luck D1.
  7. I've been down this path with a used car dealer and consumer affair have staff that can help. I'de approach consumer affairs and explain that you want to go down the small claims path. Sometimes consumer affairs can be enough to scare the supplier as they may try to sort it out first.

    Gut feeling tells me that the installer may have tried to hook into the ECU loom at what he thought was a standard point for imobilisers and it turned out to be something critical (the French follow their own standards...not the rest of the worlds :roll: ).

    I've tinkered with ECU's a little (but I'm no expert) and they normally have a degree of protective circuitry to protect the inputs/outputs but at the end of the day they can be really sensitive. Some of the sensors run on 5v, you put 12 v into that line and if there isn't enough protection engineered into the ecu it's all over as you smell the smoke.

    Good move for hanging onto the alarm.

    Try consumer affairs. Good luck.
  8. & claim for ALL expenses incurred. Show no mercy to the bastards. :evil:
  9. I got Consumer Affairs to investigate & they concluded fraudulent behaviour on
    behalf of a business I bought a few bikes off & put it in writing to both myself &
    the business. Thats all CA could do. Then used this finding together with all my
    other documents & applied for a hearing at VCAT.

    No legal representation allowed. You have to present your own case.

    Sent a copy of all my evidence to the other party so they knew what I was going
    to present.

    CA contacted Ebay as well. Ebay shut down their site which was a big money earner
    for em. He went ballistic at me & told me by email that he was going to tear me a new
    a*sehole. I was pissing myself because I kept all correspondance & copies were
    included in the dossier I sent him a copy of.

    Got an urgent fax 24hrs before the hearing from their lawyers saying their client
    denied liability but was prepared to pay my claim within 7 days if I ceased legal action. :roll:

    No deal if he was denying stealing thousands from me. I wanted the opportunity to
    be the one who was going to tear a new holes for the two directors in from of the VCAT

    Have you sent your letter of demand yet? You will need to do this prior to going any further.
  10. Wow, I love this online community. Thanks guys

    Here is where I am at at the moment.

    * Replacement ECU, airflow meter, ignition module. All repairs were carried out. Costs $1500+ minimum.
    * Gave every opportunity to said company to resolve the issue before going to
    * Went to Consumer affairs victoria. Said company has no intention of
    settling. They have been informed that the next step will be small claims(email and phone). I will do a written(letter) confirmation to company and involved contractors.
    * Have given said company the opportunity to inspect my vehicle and alarm/immobiliser unit. Their inspections only occured after I had dealt with consumer affairs and because of this all work had been carried out on the vehicle. To my absolute shock(sarcasim) they found no faults with the wiring or alarm immobiliser unit after all components had been removed and or replaced. I could have told them that.
    * I was told on several occasions that no wiring occurs to the vehicles ECU. I have a written report from my mechanic stating otherwise. I have all email correspondance and receipts of work carried out.
    * Next step is Small claims tribunal.

    I will PM you some details MG. Cheers

    Thankyou so much for all the help.

  11. -Any letters by Registered Mail so you can prove they got them!

    Good luck & keep us posted! :)

  12. Unless your installer is a tool...you do not need to muck around with the ECU to install an immobiliser...you can pick up start, fuel and ignition cuts at other places...if the car is a late model one with factory remote central locking you may need to interface with the BCM(body control module) which controls the central locking and light dircuits etc but not the ECU. How do i know this...I install them for a living...have done for over 10 years now :)
  13. Hi Again,

    The vehicle is a 1994 Peugeot 205 GTI. 70,000 k's might I add. A beauty

    Maybe this may shed some light on the ECU wiring problem. When entering the vehicle and putting the key in the ignition(immobiliser still on) all the test lights on my dash would turn on as they should except the ECU light. This would only turn on once the immobiliser had been disarmed.

    Wouldnt this indicate that the immobiliser was controlling power the the ECU unit in some way?

    The vehicle the day before being 'inspected and altered' by the alarm service centre was hooked up to a diagnostic machine. No faults were recorded. Then, after returning the dead car to mehanic, not 24 hours after being there and having been inspected by said company did the vehicle show all sorts of errors. Replace ECU, replace air flow meter faults etc.

    Vehicle also would lock occupants inside the vehicle when the key was removed from the ignition barrel. Car would continuously lock and unlock iteself when i tried to gain access to it. This was minutes after leaving the alarm service centre. These glitches stoped when the immobiliser/alarm was removed. The damage had been done by this point to my cars electronics.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Re: Car electrical problems - small claims tribunal (long) -

    I don't know all that much about auto electrics, but I do know of an alarm installer, that reads Netrider, that blew/fried a $4,000 Mercedes ECU when installing an alarm. So, I guess that it definantly means you can damage components by alarm installations :LOL: :LOL:
  15. I heard of one guy fitting a fire extinguisher to the passenger side kick panel of his VL commodore, apparently the ECU is behind that panel - drilled straight through the ecu :LOL: :LOL: :LOL: Funnily, it didn't want to start after that :roll:
  16. Re: Car electrical problems - small claims tribunal (long) -

    Matey, I've got the information I said I'd get. Give me your email address so I can give you the information I obtained. :wink:
  17. If you need any help or the claim / paperwork reviewed PM me with some contact info. You are correct in that VCAT (usually) does not allow legal representation (there are actually exceptions) but you are allowed to get help preparing your case.
  18. Undoubtedly the other side will not hesitate in getting professional help in preparing for this. I s'pose too, that it depends on how much is at stake.
  19. Wouldnt & hasent worried me in the slightest.

    Let em get as much professional help as they want. Factual events, chain of events
    & independent reports will not change whats happened.

    I did not seek nor require legal assistance. When their (3 Directors I persued through
    the legal system) lawyer saw what I had, she sent me a faxed letter 48hrs before the
    hearing (bullshit legal talk to say you win however I'm not going to give you the satisfaction
    of admitting defeat) :LOL:


    One of them was bloody furious & told me in no uncertain terms in a letter that he would
    be taking legal action against me for damages & defamation and that he was going to tear
    me a new a*sehole (what a deadset knob for putting that in writing). Thats what happens
    when you let emotions get in the way of good judgement. :LOL:

    I was pissing myself when he then sent me a letter of demand for the $30,000 a month he
    was losing when I got investigations launched on his ass which resulted in 50% of his
    business being shut down.

    The f*cker still gets a complimentary email or phone call once in a blue moon telling him
    I'm still waiting for his promised legal action & especially waiting for that new ass. :LOL:
  20. That wasn't the point. I was suggesting that the amount of professional advice that you get would be commensurate with what the case is worth to you.

    In Disk_1's case, if the cost to fix his car comes to say, $1,500, and it cost you that much to prepare for VCAT then he would have been better off either doing it himself or writing it off. Same for the other side.