Family Cars Bristol – Buyer Beware

Family Cars BristolI understand that if I buy a second hand car it may be a bit rough round the edges; I totally accept that.

I found Family Cars Bristol online and visited them. They were friendly enough. I’d told them over the phone which car I was interested in before I visited them. When I got there, they had the car all ready for me and it had been cleaned too – I should have guessed that this attention to superficial detail was their forté.

I took the car for a test drive and although the smell was a little bit wet-dog, I tried not to worry about that. The car drove just fine so I trusted my gut (and not my nose) and went with it.

One problem with the car was that the blowers didn’t work. This sounds superficial but trust me – in the dead of winter – this was suicide.

When I test drove the car the blowers were working just fine. I learnt though that the blowers wouldn’t work “from cold.” The car had to warm up for ten minutes before the blowers would come on. So imagine me: freezing on a cold black morning in the winter with a frozen windscreen and an immediate mist on the inside from my own breath.

I always had to leave for work early and get the car humming before I set off – a real nightmare scenario.

Family Cars Bristol: Customer Non-Service

So of course, I called Family Cars. I told them I was having a nightmare with the blowers. I told them how dangerous I was finding it. I asked them if they could take a quick look at it – tell me if it was something serious or a quick-fix. They said, “Sure, bring it down on Saturday and I’ll take a look.”

So that’s what I did. I took the car down on my day off and presented it to them. The mechanic slouched into the portacabin that serves as their office and said to me, with a shrug, “It sounds electrical mate; how can I sort it?” He was shaking his head the whole time like he was dumbfounded that people ever need after-sales advice.

So they had invited me down for nothing. I called back a few days later, pleading a little this time. They told me, “It’s got a good engine and gear box. We can’t help you,” and he hung up on me. I was gobsmacked.

Other Problems with my Family Cars Car:

  • The driver’s window was off its rails: you have to stop the car and support the window from the outside to close it (I could just avoid opening it but sometimes you have to – toll roads and parking gates)
  • The under-chassis and windscreen both leak. Under the driver’s pedals there’s always (always) a pool of water
  • The sun-roof had been sealed with silicon sealant (presumably because it leaked)
  • The rear-window stop-light had been carefully put back, even though it had long been broken. One tap from me and it shattered back into its original broken form.
  • The fog-light indicator on the dashboard blinks. Constantly. This is the most dangerous part. I didn’t even know it was doing that but on the motorway, people would flash me; they thought I was indicating to pull out. Either that or they would flash me endlessly to warn me.

So – just a few months after buying the car from Family Cars:  the MOT is up and I have to spend more on the MOT than I paid for the car.

Thinking of buying from Family Cars Bristol? Buyer beware.


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2 Responses to Family Cars Bristol – Buyer Beware

  1. j June 2, 2013 at 9:42 am #


    My initial experience with Family Cars was a pleasant encounter with the sales person but after purchase, things changed.They offered me a full MOT on the vehicle when I returned in 2 weeks as it hadn’t quite ran out, the deal was a reasonable one and I drove off, happy that the car had no real issues and I had budgeted to replace the cam belt myself as I found out the car was due a new cam belt at 90000 my car is 7000 miles overdue at 97000 but as i said this wasn’t really an issue but on return for the MOT I had lots of issues firstly it failed MOT and I was told that both front springs of my 03 Peugeot 307 were broken and that i had to pay for all repairs (£100) and that I had broken the springs in the two weeks i had been driving it. I was not happy so came to a quick agreement under duress 50/50 I also had the log book for the car I traded in to collect from my home and they offered me a car from their forecourt that was for sale to go and collect paper work. I was quite happy to wait for repairs to be carried out but they really needed my old log book as they had sold my old car and if that customer didn’t receive it on that very day he wanted a full refund (funny that isn’t it?) So I accepted and drove off in a heap of crap that broke down. I then phoned them and they said (and I quote) ‘What can i do about it?’ and told me to phone back in an hour and a half. I was on the side of the road with my 75 year old father for 2 hours along with two or 3 very rude phone calls and Family Cars Bristol informing me that (and I quote again) ‘What have you done to it? It was fine all week you must have broken it.’

    We were rescued by my girlfriend and went straight back to Bristol and to Family Cars but my car is still across the road in the Whitehouse MOT Centre. When I go to pay the manager of the MOT garage their £100 for the work he tells me that Family Cars have my MOT certificate.

    Meanwhile, my father of 75 years of age was already over there explaining that the car they had let me use was, through no fault of our of our own, completely useless. My father was physically pushed off the premises and had a spanner thrown at him narrowly missing his head.

    I went over to collect my MOT certificate and collect £50 as agreed under duress (three sales people, all with smart-arse answers). By that point I was not happy at all with the service or attitude so I told Family Cars that I really think they should pay the full £100. At that point I was told I would get nothing and goodbye. Luckily, I still had my old log book which they needed for the sale of my old car; I told him to stick his £100 and that he could swing for log book and lose the sale. He went for me and my father blocked his way. They then threw my father out of the porticabin and he was pushed off the top step so we both go over to whitehouse mot centre to collect my car and my car is in the back of the garage blocked-in by Family Cars’ driveway. Another car was moved over to block the entrance and I was refused my MOT slip and keys until I handed over the documents for my old car. I told the manager of the MOT centre that I owed him nothing and that I wanted my car.

    The manager of Whitehouse MOT centre said he was powerless and I know he was in on the scam after a lot more wasted time I managed to get £40 paid back to me and my car released. I then drove to Devon in the car with a new MOT and it drove worse than it did with supposed broken front springs and felt unsafe and is making a grinding noise. Under closer inspection I also discovered the headlight brackets were broken and a well-placed bit of plastic was all that was used for aligning the lights which are now out as I removed the offending bodge-job which is a fail in itself.

    I am replacing the headlight unit myself so not only did I get ripped off but I was also handed back an unroadworthy car in what seemed to be a well rehearsed duet between Family Cars Bristol and Whitehouse MOT Centre.

    I FELT INTIMIDATED BY BEING SURROUNDED BY ALL STAFF FROM BOTH ESTABLISHMENTS. I shall not be going back and have got the vehicle booked in with VOSA FOR A FULL INSPECTION AS I DO NOT FEEL SAFE DRIVING MY CAR. I could have gone to the car auction myself and bought my car for about £1300, got the work done to make it right and it would still have cost me less. All they are doing is getting vehicles that need a bit of work doing on them cheap and putting them straight up for sale and they dont even check them and if you do get an MOT I dont think that it is worth the paper it’s written on.


  2. UNHAPPY CUSTOMER June 24, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    If only I had known the above then I wouldn’t have bought my car from family cars bristol as I part exchanged my very reliable car and got a 4×4 with more problems than I can state.

    So far My Family Cars Bristol car has cost me thousand of pounds – probably more – in failed MOT and dodgy bodge-jobs they had done on the car. Everything on it is bodged such as the wiring in the dashboard so the warning lights aren’t on. All sorts of other things had gone wrong so I phoned the warranty they gave me and had no joy there either; the warranty lady put the phone down on me and wasn’t helpful at all as she and family cars must be related: the warranty is a scam, the business is a scam and the cars are far from reliable, unsound and mostly illegal in work they say they have had done.


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