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Buying a New Car: Your Rights

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 18 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights New Car Dealer Rac Aa

Besides a house, a new car is one of the most expensive purchases you'll ever make. It's a huge investment, and you want it to be perfect, given the amount it costs. The law gives you certain rights when purchasing a new car, and protection if something goes wrong:

Before You Buy

For the best chance of making sure that everything goes smoothly, look for a reputable dealer. Often family and friends can offer advice on where they have purchased a vehicle, or you can look for a trade association sign at a local dealership. If you want a list of registered dealers, contact the Retail Motor Industry Federation or the Scottish Motor Trade Association, who will happily give you the names of their members.

Don't be afraid to haggle over price. Often you get the price knocked down, especially on some models. How far you haggle is up to you (and the salesman). Paying by cash might slice even more off the bill, but you can even haggle if you're buying on credit (especially if it's arranged through the dealer). You might get money knocked off if you part exchange, but you might get more if you sell your current car separately, so price up each option to find out what is best for you.

When you sit down to sign the contract, make sure you're getting the final, on-the road price. That means VAT, number plates, everything. Don't sign unless you understand everything in the contract, including interest changes. Be clear on any trade-in price. If there's anything you're not sure about, ask for an explanation, and get it in writing. Don't be afraid to say you want time to think. If you're not sure the deal is good, you can always walk away.

Some key questions to ask about your contract are:

  • How much do I have to pay now upfront?
  • How much do I have to pay monthly?
  • Does that include a maintenance and servicing plan?
  • What "extras" are included (eg electric windows / mp3 connector / metallic paint)?
  • At the end of the contract, will the car be mine? If not, are there any conditions on its return (eg max number of miles)?

Your Basic Rights

New cars are covered by The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (which replaced The Sale of Goods Act 1979). That means they must be "as described", "of satisfactory quality", and "fit for the purpose".

The car should therefore:

  • Be in full working order and not damaged when purchased.
  • Meet any purpose specifically explained to the retailer and agreed before purchase (eg good suspension for going up and down country roads).
  • Match the description given at the time of purchase.

    If Things Go Wrong

    The Consumer Rights Act 2015 put in place a tiered system to remedy problems with purchased products. Any claims must initially be made against the retailer rather than the manufacturer. What you can claim will depend upon how much time has passed since you purchased the car:

    0-30 days since purchase

    "I went to collect my brand new car but on inspection the paint work was scratched. I pointed this out to the dealer and walked away without the car. They wanted to polish the whole car at the body shop but I told them I did not want the car anymore. Not sure where I stand as I never drove it away and pointed the errors out right away ."

    If the car is unfit for purpose, faulty, or not as described, you have the right to return it and receive a full refund within 30 days of the date of purchase. Also if you ordered a car for delivery and have not received it within 30 days of the date of purchase (or by any later date agreed), you have the right to cancel your order and receive a full refund.

    30 days to 6 months since purchase

    If a fault is discovered within the first 6 months from delivery, it is presumed to have been there from the time of delivery. It is for the retailer (car dealer) to prove that this was not the case.

    If it has been over 30 days since you purchased the car, you will likely have to allow the retailer the opportunity to try to repair it if any issues arise (replacing the car being disproportionate to the cost of most repairs).

    "My husband bought a brand new car. Less than 5 months later it was leaking in on the front passenger foot well. We returned it to the dealer who had it for approx 4 weeks, they said they had replaced the seals and we took it home. A few weeks later it was leaking in the back passenger foot well. It went back to the dealer who said that they had replaced the back seals. Another month on and the front foot well is full of water again. Can we refuse for the car to be fixed again and ask for a refund or replacement?"

    If the retailer can't repair the car, or have tried to repair it and the fault still exists, you will be entitled to return the product and receive a refund. However a reasonable deduction may be made by the retailer to reflect your use of the vehicle in the preceding months.

    Over 6 months since purchase

    "I bought a new Honda HR-V and after only 600 miles on the clock, when parked on a incline, I got out of the vehicle after applying electronic handbrake. After waking away for about 20 - 30 meters, the car started rolling away and crashed into another car causing damage to both cars. Honda have said no fault was found after a couple of days investigation. I have no confidence in the car anymore. What are my options?"

    If it is more than 6 months since you purchased the car, you must prove that the product was faulty at the time of purchase. You would likely need an expert mechanic or engineer's report to prove this.

    "I purchased a new MG3.It has leaked through the driver's window since new and the acceleration is rubbish. The garage have had the vehicle several times for repair and now do not respond to my telephone calls to rectify the problems I have. Do I have any recourse with them please?"

    If you have difficulty agreeing a solution with the retailer, you can:

    1. Contact the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It will, with both parties agreement, act as an arbitrator and decide the dispute.
    2. Refer the matter to Trading Standards and take legal advice (both the RAC and the AA offer legal advice to their members). Note that if you go to court, you'll need a solicitor which can be costly, though often if you win, your costs will also be recoverable from the other side.

    The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 has been designed to simplify the position and help those purchasing products to hold retailers to account. However as you will have seen above, you have far greater rights straight after purchase than several months later, so it is important that you fully check over your car immediately after delivery / collection and notify the retailer of any issues as soon as possible.

    You might also like...
    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    Bought a used '14' car three weeks ago, washed for first time today and noticed its had a respray on the nearside rear panel, not a good job at all.Inside door trim has terrible streaks of a darker colour paint, also paint finish split along the rim.What are my rights please.
    AW17 - 18-May-17 @ 4:35 PM
    I odered a new car 3rd March to be told delivery end Apr beginning May. The have told me today no news now as to date of collection. I paid £500 deposit. They are not keeping their part of the deal. Do I have any bargaining power. I have no px and they have not offered any discount because of this.
    Elmo - 18-May-17 @ 3:51 PM
    J - Your Question:
    We bought a car from a small dealer. Seemed fine but on route home it broke down. The dealership came out, gave us our car we part exchanged with and they took the new car back to diagnose. They think they have found the problem but I've lost all confidence in the car and now don't want it. Am I aloud to reject the car even if they can fix the fault that caused the breakdown.

    Our Response:
    You can usually reject a new car with a fault if you do so within 30 days of purchase.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-May-17 @ 2:37 PM
    We bought a car from a small dealer. Seemed fine but on route home it broke down. The dealership came out, gave us our car we part exchanged with and they took the new car back to diagnose. They think they have found the problem but I've lost all confidence in the car and now don't want it. Am I aloud to reject the car even if they can fix the fault that caused the breakdown.
    J - 17-May-17 @ 7:01 PM
    Thank you for your reply They Delivered my car on the 4th Aprillater that day i called and said you have not fitted heated seatsthey asked me to go to the dealer ship on the 7th Aprilto sort out the problem I was lead to believe that they would fit heated seats at there cost I made it clear on that date that if they don't fit the heated seat I would reject the carbut since then I cannot get any reply from the sales mangeri have had A e-mail from Head of Business saying he would look into it but to this day I have had no comments from him I spoke to BMW and they saidwe will contact them and you will get A reply still waiting I have had A e-mailfor head of Business saying he cannot comment till the Sales man get back from paternity leave but this has gone on for over Month. Can I still reject this car if they are not going to sort out the seats please Advise.
    Delboy - 16-May-17 @ 6:00 AM
    Delboy - Your Question:
    Can you Advise me I purchased A new car on the 31/3/17 when I did the deal I asked that the new car be the same As my old car like for like. when I went to collect the car the wrong Alloy wheels was incorrect so I refused to take the car. they called me 3 days later and said they had swapped the wheels with A new car in there stock. I collected the car and having got home Relised that they had not fitted heated seats which is on my Quotation order I called and spoke to the Manager and he said you best come back in he informed me that he would speak to General Manager and get him to agree to fit the heated seats I have been waiting sending e-mails and calling but they will not reply I am shocked that A BMW dealer can be this way can you advise what I should do.

    Our Response:
    How long have you had the vehicle? If you've only recently collected it then you should give them a few days to give a date for installation of the heated seats. If they cannot do this then you can reject it within 30 days of purchase on the basis that it is "not as described"
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 15-May-17 @ 2:25 PM
    Can you Advise me I purchased A new car on the 31/3/17when i did the deal I asked that the new car be the same As my old car like for like. when I went to collect the car the wrong Alloy wheels was incorrect so i refused to take the car . they called me 3 days later and said they had swapped the wheels with A new car in there stock . I collected the car and having got home Relised that they had not fitted heated seats which is on my Quotation orderI called and spoke to the Manager and he said you best come back in he informed me that he would speak to General Manager and get him to agree to fit the heated seats I have been waiting sending e-mails and calling but they will not reply i am shocked that A BMW dealer can be this way can you advise what I should do.
    Delboy - 12-May-17 @ 9:00 AM
    H8xme - Your Question:
    Hi I have the same issue as an other owner above. I collected my new focus St line silver on the 3/5/17 but x2 days later when washed. Patchy paint work is was present on the roof & spoiler along with stone chips- debris in most panels under the base coat and laquar. God knows how this car passed its pre delivery inspection!!!! There's no way Im going to accept the car to be resprayed. Like for like replacement must be the only way forward surly? Can I just return the car and give them the keys. But what happens with my old car which I part ex? :(

    Our Response:
    You should be able to reject it. The dealer will need to give you the invoice price of the car as they will not be able to return your PX
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 10-May-17 @ 12:05 PM
    Hi I have the same issue as an other owner above. I collected my new focus St line silver on the 3/5/17 but x2 days later when washed. Patchy paint work is was present on the roof & spoiler along with stone chips- debris in most panels under the base coat and laquar. God knows how this car passed its pre delivery inspection!!!! There's no way Im going to accept the car to be resprayed. Like for like replacement must be the only way forward surly? Can I just return the car and give them the keys. But what happens with my old car which I part ex? :(
    H8xme - 9-May-17 @ 12:47 PM
    Chelsea - Your Question:
    I bought a used car in January 2017. After signing all necessary documents including HP paperwork, I was handed only one key. When I asked the dealership where the second key was, it was then I was told there was only one key, after all I knew the car was used.The fact that there was no spare key was not stated in the sale advert.Who's responsibility is it to get the spare keys, me or the dealership?

    Our Response:
    Is this a coded key? If so getting one cut or replaced could be expensive and you should negotiate with the dealer over whether they pay, you pay or they share the cost (depending on what discounts you already have etc).
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-May-17 @ 12:17 PM
    Hi, I purchased a Brand New 17 plate Focus ST3 Estate 3 weeks ago. I've noticed after a detailed polish the following; Drivers door has Laquer Bubbles Passenger door has dust particles exposed through the paint Rear Bumper is scuffing on closing Took it to my local Ford dealership (didn't purchase from them), but advised by the dealership I did to take it there.... Anyway; they've told me all 3 above need a full respray.... Spoke to Ford I purchased from only to be told it's under warranty, so it'll be rectified....I DONT WANT MY NEW CAR RESPRAYED !!!!! Obviously I'm not happy about this as it's a brand new car with less than 400miles on the clock..... Where do I stand? Can I return the car and a new one issued? Also; I was expecting factory 'standard' options on the car, but found these were extras, however the dealership didn't give me ANY options, as apparently 'I DIDNT ASK FOR ANY' Again; Where do I stand? Can I return the car?
    Malc - 5-May-17 @ 10:23 AM
    I bought a used car in January 2017. After signing all necessary documents including HP paperwork,I was handed only onekey. When I asked the dealership where the second key was, it was then I was told there was only one key, after all I knew the car was used. The fact that there was no spare key was not stated in the sale advert. Who's responsibility is it to get the spare keys, me or the dealership?
    Chelsea - 4-May-17 @ 8:53 PM
    Mick- Your Question:
    Do you have a response for my comments, audi a6. thanks Mick

    Our Response:
    Yes we've answered that one. See below.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Apr-17 @ 2:06 PM
    Mick- Your Question:
    Hi I have just bought an audi A6 it is a 66 plate. From the first couple of weeks I have found 4 different paint issues. Audi have rectified these problems in a fasion. I have found another defect, audi have my car now and they say it has gone to Audi body shop Birmingham were it can be tested and put write. I have sent numerous e mail's to Audi Wolverhampton but they don't seem to bother replying. I have said if my car isn't put write I will be looking at a refund, the car cost me 26k with different warranty. Mick

    Our Response:
    Talk to the retailer(assuming your purchased it from a dealer) about this, it is the retailer that is responsible for dealing with you and for sorting the problem out. Your rights at various time scales specified in the above article apply.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Apr-17 @ 12:07 PM
    Do you have a response for my comments,audi a6. thanks Mick
    Mick - 26-Apr-17 @ 5:53 PM
    Hi I have just bought an audi A6 it is a 66 plate. From the first couple of weeks I have found 4 different paint issues. Audi have rectified these problems in a fasion. I have found another defect,audi have my car now and they say it has gone to Audi body shop Birmingham were it can be tested and put write. I have sent numerous e mail's to Audi Wolverhampton but they don't seem to bother replying. I have said if my car isn't put write I will be looking at a refund,the car cost me 26k with different warranty. Mick
    Mick - 26-Apr-17 @ 2:19 PM
    Kaz - Your Question:
    HiI bought a car from a dealer 3 months and have had loads of problems with it. The dealer has agreed to take it back and give me a full refund but I part exd my car with him for £1300 (which he still hasn't sold). He wants to give me a full refund for the purchase price of the car but I was told that legally he is only obliged to put me back where I started from which is giving me my car back and the money I gave him. This is what I want to do as I would prefer my car back but he says if I have it back I will have to pay for what he has spent on and his advertising costs. I have spent loads on his car too that I am going to lose. Where do I stand on this please?

    Our Response:
    No you're not entitled to your old vehicle back. Your consumer rights say that you will be entitled to the full invoice price of the car you purchased. If you want to claim extra for the money you have spent etc, you will have to make a separate, private claim via the small claims court.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:31 PM
    Hi I bought a car from a dealer 3 months and have had loads of problems with it. The dealer has agreed to take it back and give me a full refund but I part exd my car with him for £1300 (which he still hasn't sold).He wants to give me a full refund for the purchase price of the car but I was told that legally he is only obliged to put me back where I started from which is giving me my car back and the money I gave him.This is what I want to do as I would prefer my car back but he says if I have it back I will have to pay for what he has spent on and his advertising costs.I have spent loads on his car too that I am going to lose.Where do I stand on this please?
    Kaz - 23-Apr-17 @ 9:36 AM
    Bought a new car (17 plate) less than a month ago and had recovery due to a gearbox/ clutch issue. If I give the dealer chance to repair it and the fault continues after 30 days, can I then still request a replacement because original issue arose within the first 30 days or would i then fall into consumer rights for a purchase after the 30day period?
    Han - 19-Apr-17 @ 7:41 AM
    Nad - Your Question:
    Purchased a car on finance two days ago. Third party fixed a scratch on wing, now it doesn't match the colour of the car. Arnold Clark advised they would fix it. Since that, I've noticed bald tyres, the manager agreed to fix one. I have a baby, and don't want to think there could be more wrong with the car. Scratches on the car that I wasn't advised of previously have just been noticed. Over all I'm not happy, as I signed for car before test drive stupidly. Can I get a refund?

    Our Response:
    There is a certain amount that the buyer should make themselves aware of when the car is purchased. Usually, you have a look around and check the paintwork etc before you buy it. You may find it difficult to return it on the basis of some obvious scratches that were there at the time of purchase.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-Apr-17 @ 10:20 AM
    Purchased a car on finance two days ago. Third party fixed a scratch on wing, now it doesn't match the colour of the car. Arnold Clark advised they would fix it. Since that, I've noticed bald tyres, the manager agreed to fix one. I have a baby, and don't want to think there could be more wrong with the car. Scratches on the car that I wasn't advised of previously have just been noticed. Over all I'm not happy, as I signed for car before test drive stupidly. Can I get a refund?
    Nad - 15-Apr-17 @ 8:30 AM
    Gaz - Your Question:
    Bought a car on finance six weeks ago, I Hv a years warranty. I noticed the paintwork has bubbled & flakeing off at the front. The car place said they cannot do anythg as it's not covered. Wat are my right, is there anythg at all I can do.

    Our Response:
    The dealer should repair this under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as detailed in the above article. Contact your finance company first of all. If they cannot arrange to get the work completed, then you should write to the dealer informing them of the legislation and say that you will consider legal action.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 7-Apr-17 @ 12:15 PM
    Hi, My parents have recently purchased a Hymer motorhome from a dealership in Telford. On getting home they have discovered a crack in the front windscreen, they returned to the dealership to report it however the manager claimed it must have been cracked on the journey home by a stone. To look at the screen there is no signs of impact damage which was also confirmed by an windscreen repair company. They said it was a stress fracture done at the time of installation through pressure. The dealership denies they would have missed it and have since spoke to the windscreen company (whom they have a contract with) who now refuse to do a report unless someone agrees to pay for the report & the replacement windscreen upfront. They have even sent across photo's of the motorhome on the forecourt where if you zoom in you can see a white mark on the screen where the crack is, although it's very low res. Of course the manager has stated they can't see what's being referred too. Would appreciate some advice on what route to take, the way this company are behaving is terrible, the customer service is non existent and I would like to think they are covered by consumer rights. Thanks
    Wes - 6-Apr-17 @ 9:23 PM
    Hi, My parents have recently purchased a Hymer motorhome from a dealership in Telford. On getting home they have discovered a crack in the front windscreen, they returned to the dealership to report it however the manager claimed it must have been cracked on the journey home by a stone. To look at the screen there is no signs of impact damage which was also confirmed by an windscreen repair company. They said it was a stress fracture done at the time of installation through pressure. The dealership denies they would have missed it and have since spoke to the windscreen company (whom they have a contract with) who now refuse to do a report unless someone agrees to pay for the report & the replacement windscreen upfront. They have even sent across photo's of the motorhome on the forecourt where if you zoom in you can see a white mark on the screen where the crack is, although it's very low res. Of course the manager has stated they can't see what's being referred too. Would appreciate some advice on what route to take, the way this company are behaving is terrible, the customer service is non existent and I would like to think they are covered by consumer rights. Thanks
    Wes - 6-Apr-17 @ 5:58 PM
    I've recently picked up a brand new car on a 3 year personal lease deal, the car has lots of scratches over the entire car, looks like someone has taken a rag over the paintwork when it's been dusty. The dealership has been a complete nightmare to deal with, after about 3 weeks of arguing about the paint work they have agreed to pay for a 3rd party to polish the scratches out of the paintwork. Can I refuse this, and ask for a replacement car? Two different car paint specialists have said that for a new car the paintwork is an absolute disgrace, I have a meeting next week with the dealership and would like to know what rights I have. Thanks
    Departures - 5-Apr-17 @ 11:01 PM
    Sha - Your Question:
    I ordered a Vauxhall Adam in the colour cream / with red roof mirrors front grille and red intoriorand all the of my specs on it in November 2016 , was told by the manager it is a factory order and would be around january delivery , after January was emailing the salesman.manger for up dates ,not heard any thing back so called Vauxhall told the manger / salesman had both left Vauxhall , currently. Manager said Car is on its way from Germany should be here before end of march ,went to Vauxhall Croydon yesterday after receiving a call on the 30thmarch my car will be here 2/4/2017 , the salesman how has been dealing with my case,so going through the paperwork notice the colour of the car said red ,I said that is not the colour I coorders,went to check with the manager yes it's red ,we are so sorry the old manager has ordered the wrong colour , at first I thought it was a April fools joke ,im not happy been waiting since2016 for my car,it is not my fault nobody checked my original order ,even after me emailing the original order which was sent to my phone , manger said it will have to be ordered again so a further wait,I have explained that I want a. Better deal on the price and I will speak to vauxhallcomplaints determine , I was offered in the,meantime to take the new car drive around till my original colour one comes in dont lose any money then bring itbackandswop with my original order ,Ido t what to drive a different colour car to what I order , if I wanted a red car I would have brought one please give advice

    Our Response:
    In this case the dealership has been very fair in allowing you to use the current car until yours comes in. Yes it's a mistake but the dealer has rectified it and you haven't lost any money because of it.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-Apr-17 @ 1:42 PM
    I ordered a Vauxhall Adam in the colour cream / with red roof mirrors front grille and red intoriorand all the of my specs on it in November 2016 , was told by the manager it is a factory order and would be around january delivery , after January was emailing the salesman.manger for up dates ,not heard any thing back so called Vauxhall told the manger / salesman had both left Vauxhall , currently. Manager said Car is on its way from Germany should be here before end of march ,went to Vauxhall Croydon yesterday after receiving a call on the 30thmarch my car will be here 2/4/2017 , the salesman how has been dealing with my case,so going through the paperwork notice the colour of the car said red ,I said that is not the colour I coorders,went to check with the manager yes it's red ,we are so sorry the old manager has ordered the wrong colour , at first I thought it was a April fools joke ,im not happy been waiting since2016 for my car,it is not my fault nobody checked my original order ,even after me emailing the original order which was sent to my phone , manger said it will have to be ordered again so a further wait,I have explained that I want a. Better deal on the price and I will speak to vauxhallcomplaints determine , I was offered in the,meantime to take the new car drive around till my original colour one comes in dont lose any money then bring itbackandswop with my original order ,Ido t what to drive a different colour car to what I order , if I wanted a red car I would have brought one please give advice
    Sha - 2-Apr-17 @ 8:37 AM
    Bought a car on finance six weeks ago, I Hv a years warranty. I noticed the paintwork has bubbled & flakeing off at the front. The car place said they cannot do anythg as it's not covered. Wat are my right, is there anythg at all I can do...
    Gaz - 1-Apr-17 @ 8:48 AM
    H17 - Your Question:
    Hi, Bought a new 17 plate car, agreed 3 yr service plan was right for me, this is shown along with the amount I paid on my invoice. This was delivered over 2 weeks ago.Dealer now informs me I cannot have a 3yr service plan as not available (I got a 0% finance PCP) and all I can have is 2 year or 4 year - both of which are not as good value as far as I can see - do I have any rights? can I insist they honour what is on my invoice/what was ordered and agreed? all signed for. TIA

    Our Response:
    You may be able to object on the basis that the contract as not been fulfilled as agreed. The remedy does not have to be a 3 year plan though, the dealer could offer a refund instead. You might need to seek specific legal advice on this as it's on finance and so effectively doesn't belong to you yet.
    ConsumerRightsExpert - 30-Mar-17 @ 2:28 PM
    Hi, Bought a new 17 plate car, agreed 3 yr service plan was right for me, this is shown along with the amount I paid on my invoice. This was delivered over 2 weeks ago. Dealer now informs me I cannot have a 3yr service plan as not available (I got a 0% finance PCP) and all I can have is 2 year or 4 year - both of which are not as good value as far as I can see - do I have any rights? can I insist they honour what is on my invoice/what was ordered and agreed? all signed for. TIA
    H17 - 29-Mar-17 @ 6:59 PM
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