1997 Toyota Hiace buyer sues dealer for twice the van's cost – DRIVEN Car Guide

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Kenneth Tyree's 1997 Hiace cost him $4990. He spent more kitting it out as a camper van.
Kenneth Tyree's 1997 Hiace cost him $4990. He spent more kitting it out as a camper van.
A student has tried to sue a car trader for more than twice the cost of his 26-year-old van, which has more than 250,000 kilometres on the clock, after it failed a warrant of fitness.
While he wasn’t successful in getting the $12,000 he wanted, Kenneth Tyree has managed to get an order for the seller to fix the structural damage and leaking exhaust on the 1997 Hiace van. Many of the other issues he raised with the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal (MVDT) were thrown out, however.
Tyree purchased the vehicle for just under $5000 in August 2021 and converted it to a camper van for him to travel in that summer.
It was sold to him with a new six-month warrant and when he took it for re-certification in February the next year it failed because of an exhaust leak, structural damage to the rear and a loose wing mirror.
Tyree then took the company that sold him the van to the MVDT in an attempt to recoup nearly $12,000 for what he deemed considerable effort in modifying it into a campervan, stress and emotional harm and to fix the structural damage.
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His submission to the tribunal was that it was in an unworthy and unsafe condition when Euroland Motor Company sold it to him and that it essentially should never have been given a warrant of fitness in the first place.
Ultimately the tribunal ordered that Euroland fix the structural damage and pay a further $253 to Tyree for the leaking exhaust repairs he’d already done.

However, Euroland’s owner Andrew Smith told NZME he believed the law student was being “excessively vexatious” in his litigation.
“It’s a nearly 30-year-old car with almost 300,000 on its odometer … frankly it’s ridiculous.”
Smith said he listed the car for a $1 reserve auction that ended up selling to Tyree for $4990 but he said he would have been happy to get $2000 for it.
He said the car was nearly 30 years old, had travelled more than a quarter of a million kilometres and in his opinion was at an age where a buyer shouldn’t expect it to look or work perfectly.
“There has to be a point where the Consumer Guarantees Act stops. How can it possibly apply to a car that old?
“We sold it with a warrant. It’s an old car there’s a fair and reasonable expectation in my view that you should expect to have to do some maintenance on a vehicle that’s way beyond its commercial life.”
Smith said the Act covered cars that were worth $30,000 to $40,000 and were only 10 years old in an equal manner as it covered vans like the one Tyree took him to the tribunal for.
Euroland’s official submissions to the tribunal were that Tyree’s expectations were too high for such an old vehicle and any reasonable buyer would expect it to require ongoing maintenance to pass bi-annual warrants – and that in any case, the company had obtained one from an independent certifier.
It also said the vehicle continued to pass inspections and the issues Tyree raised were ones inspectors had noted on their reports but had not failed the vehicle on.
Smith said he still had an offer on the table to purchase the vehicle back from Tyree for exactly what he paid for it but he’d have to remove the modifications he’d made.
He said he had made repairs to the vehicle but hadn’t done a complete structural rebuild like Tyree wanted because he said it wasn’t necessary.
Tyree told NZME he hadn’t received any compensation from Euroland nor had the company made the repairs ordered by the tribunal.
He said he submitted a long list of issues with the van not to claim compensation but rather to paint a picture of its overall condition.
Tyree, who is still using the vehicle, said that it took him six months to realise it was structurally unsafe.
“I was unknowingly driving around in an unsafe vehicle,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting a brand new vehicle but I was expecting a safe one.”
He believes the Consumer Guarantees Act applied to cars as old as his van and there were certain guarantees it needed to uphold in terms of acceptable quality.
Tyree said he tried to resolve the issue outside of the tribunal and it was Smith who told him to escalate his complaint to that level.
“Now that I’ve done exactly what they told me to and I’ve won they won’t pay me and they’re making me out to be excessively litigious.”
MVDT adjudicator Jason McHerron found that Tyree approached Euroland and asked them to fix the structural damage as well as rust around the boot latch.
When they refused McHerron said Tyree would have been entitled to reject the vehicle and obtain a refund.

However, Tyree wanted to hold on to the van because of the modifications he’d made to it, which he considered added to its value.
Tyree initially took this to the Disputes Tribunal, where the referee estimated the total cost of the structural and rust repairs would be under $2000. Tyree supplied quotes that estimated the structural repairs alone would be a maximum of $5000.
Tyree’s submissions to the MVDT were that the van was not of “warrantable standard” due to it being structurally unsound despite having a fresh warrant when it was sold, and that Euroland misrepresented its condition.
He raised a number of issues including a brake imbalance, corrosion in the floor, an oil leak, rust in several places and uneven tyre wear.
However, the tribunal ruled that Euroland only failed to deliver acceptable quality on the exhaust leak, structural damage in the boot, the lack of a spare wheel cage and one spot of rust.
McHerron also rejected a number of Tyree’s claims about the advertising and condition of the van.
“There is nothing specific about the general description of the vehicle in the Trade Me listing that I consider to be misleading or in respect of which the vehicle did not comply,” McHerron said.
“In any event, I do not consider that Kenneth has established that the vehicle has not been fit-for-purpose either as a private vehicle or for use for road trips as a van for self-contained travel.
“Kenneth freely admitted continuing to use the vehicle despite its defects and driving it several thousand kilometres since purchasing it.”
McHerron said Euroland had no “proactive obligation” to disclose repairs that needed to be carried out to obtain a warrant of fitness before selling it to Tyree.
As for Tyree’s claim of $4000 in stress compensation, McHerron found that Tyree had been able to secure multiple warrants for the van despite Vehicle Testing NZ initially failing it.
“Moreover, the evidence shows that Kenneth has driven more than 12,000km in the vehicle since purchasing it,” he said.
“Kenneth’s claim for stress and inconvenience due to inability to use the vehicle as intended is not persuasive in light of the fact that the evidence showed that the vehicle has remained largely operational and usable by Kenneth.”
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