Doctor Diesel

Shocking battery prices!

Hello Doctor Diesel, 

I have a friend who has been driving a CitroÎn C-Zero for the last two and a half years. Recently, after heavy rain, she went through a very large puddle which has rendered her car useless. It is a write-off, as a new battery is £11,000! Surely if electric cars are the future, and we are meant to be getting more extreme weather, this should not happen? In Cornwall, where we live, we get lots of puddles when it rains, and she wanted to do her bit for the environment, really loving her little car. Your comments would be appreciated. Kind regards, 

Roger Wickins, Port Navas, Cornwall. 

P.S. I am still very pleased with my Dacia Duster.

Thanks for your letter. I’ll start by relating a story regarding flood damage. The husband of one of my wife’s many cousins drove his Vauxhall Corsa through some flood water a few months ago, and, although the engine did not fail immediately, it did a day later, and he eventually managed (after engaging the services of a consultant engineer) to convince his insurers that the engine was storm-damaged. That meaning, presumably, that they felt he had not stupidly driven through flood water that he could have avoided, but was unable to reasonably avoid driving through the water, much as sounds to have been the case with your friend. He was greatly relieved, as you may imagine, but the car was off the road for many weeks while it was all getting sorted, involving a complete engine rebuild.

So, if the lady with the written-off C-Zero has not considered the possibility of making an insurance claim, she should do so. Failing that, if she can reasonably prove or claim that she only drove through a large puddle, she should consider either taking the supplier (the garage, not CitroÎn) to the Small Claims Court, on the grounds that the car was “not fit for purpose”, and she should have a good chance of winning. The price for the new battery is simply ridiculous, and no doubt involves about £3,000 of that going straight in the pocket of the supplying dealer.

Take a look at this video, showing a Nissan Leaf being successfully driven through water a lot deeper than I would even consider attempting in a diesel car. Well done the Leaf!

Glad to hear that the Dacia Duster still pleases you. Keep me updated if your lady friend makes any progress, or if I can be of further help. The Citizens Advice Bureau is very helpful for this sort of situation, and well informed with full legal back-up. A call to them would not be wasted.

Doc D

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