Back on track!

At the end of last month Travellers Auto Barn sold a 1995 Ford Econovan to a young French couple who where planning on travelling Australia for 1 year. Within the first week of owning the van they found a serious problem that caused an immediate stop to their trip. It could potentially ruin their time in OZ and here is their story -


Gaetan and Audrey arrived in Sydney at the beginning of June with the intention to take their time finding the perfect van they could call home for the next 12 months. They wanted to visit most of the country and work along the way. Knowing that they would probably drive around 20,000km it was important to make sure that the van was reliable, comfy and most importantly going to last.

They had visited the Sydney Travellers Car Market, looked at vehicles on Gumtree and even test drove a couple but after much deliberation they decided that buying from a dealer was the safer option… even if it was going to cost them a little more. They wanted the warranties that came with a dealers vehicle so that if anything was to go wrong the van would be covered. Gaetan and Audrey decided on a long wheel based Ford Econovan. The van had only 236,000 which is below average for a “backpacker” van and was equipped with a bed, camping equipment and all the necessities they would need to get them started. On its test drive the van drove perfectly, it had been serviced by one of TAB’s mechanics and came with a Pink slip. On 30th June the guys officially started their trip and headed north towards the sun.

After driving for about 10 hours / 750km over 3 days Gaetan and Audrey had reached Glenn Innes which is about 200 km inland from Coffs Harbor. They had been checking the water level daily and had added small amounts but by the time they had arrived the van had started to seriously overheat. Obviously concerned, they called TAB who arranged for the vehicle to be towed to a local mechanic. After a couple of hours they got the news no backpacker wants to hear -

Mechanic – “There has been an internal coolant leak and your van has overheated. There’s not much you can do apart from replace the engine… your van is F@%ked…!!!”

Gaetan – “How much is that going to cost?”

Mechanic – “About $4000 for the engine and labor but it is going to take us about 7-10 days to get the parts and do the work.”

How could this be? They had spent the extra money on a “better” vehicle from TAB that was supposed to last for 1 whole year! It had been serviced, checked over and drove perfectly. Gaetan who by now was obviously upset called TAB’s aftersales to complain. Even though the vehicle was covered under warranty it was based in Sydney where they had purchased the vehicle. TAB explained that there wasn’t much they could have done to prevent the problem as it is near impossible to check for internal leaks. The only thing they could do now is help them to continue their trip.

The guys left their van with the mechanic in Glenn Innes and took the bus back to Sydney. They stayed in a hostel over night and come in to see TAB the next day. Even though Gaetan and Audrey where outside of their warranty Travellers Auto Barn arranged for the couple to be exchanged into another van to equal value. They even refunded them for the bus tickets and their night in the hostel.

Ok so what’s the motive of the story? Even though these guys had a problem with the vehicle they had purchased through TAB the problem was solved within a matter of days and the guys could start their trip again! Can you imagine buying a vehicle privately without any warranty and having a similar problem to Gaetan and Audrey? Firstly, you would have to find a mechanic and arrange the towing yourself and then you would have to make the decision to invest thousands of dollars into the vehicle that you have just purchased or to abandon it and loose everything! When you buy a vehicle privately you are “rolling the dice” you take the risk in spending less money and hope that the vehicle will last for as long as you own it. Now, you may not have to replace the engine on your vehicle, you may be one of the lucky ones that doesn’t have to spend a dollar while you own it. BUT! In reality, if you buy a vehicle privately always put money aside for when something does go wrong. Make sure you always get a pre-purchase inspection before committing to a vehicle and always, always consider spending a little more and buy from Travellers Auto Barn. If Gaetan and Audrey had spent less and purchased privately they would have probably abandoned their van and it would have affected the rest of their time in Australia. Until next time.. STCM