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Buying a Used Car: Your Rights

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 23 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights Used Cars Dealer Auction

Buying a used car is always a tricky proposition. It doesn't matter if it's last year's model or an old banger with plenty of miles on the clock; it's always a bit of a gamble. That makes it especially important to know your rights when you buy a used vehicle.

Buying From a Dealer

Buying a used car that you've seen advertised for sale outside someone's house can be extremely risky; it may not have any service history and you probably don't know anything about the owner.

Which Dealer?

Buying a used car from a dealer is safer, but of course not all dealers are 100% honest. When considering where to buy your used car, look for:
  • An established dealer
  • With a good reputation
  • One that is a member a recognised trade association

The best place to start will often be to ask family and friends, and have a look on the internet for any reviews. Associations such as The Retail Motor Industry Federation or The Scottish Motor Trade Association will also be able to provide a list of their members.

History?

A good car dealer will be able to provide you with the V5 document (log book) for each car. This will list how many owners the car has had, the mileage and the age of the vehicle. Obviously this doesn't tell you about how well the owner has treated the car (e.g did they smoke in it), but will give you a picture of how "used" the used car actually is.

Some kind of service history is also extremely useful. If a vehicle has been regularly serviced it is more likely to remain reliable for longer. A service history could be in a book provided by the original manufacturer; the service provider will stamp the book and date it each time a service is carried out. An alternative to a service booklet could simply be a collection of the invoices for each service, these show the car's registration number, mileage and details of the work that was undertaken.

It is also important to check that the car is not stolen. You can easily check this by texting 'CAR' and the number plate to 83600 (www.CarTextCheck.co.uk) for a small fee; other firms carry out similar services. This is particularly important as the police can seize a stolen car and return it to the original owner. In that situation, you would have to make a civil claim against the dealer for your money back (which is not guaranteed, particularly if the dealer has disappeared, or has little money and has been imprisoned for theft).

Condition?

Most people wouldn't buy a house without assessing its condition; the same should therefore apply to purchasing a used car.

In order to properly assess the condition of a car, most people will need expert assistance in the form of a mechanic's report. Many car dealers will have their cars tested and provide you with an inspection report. If not, don't be afraid to ask for it.

Once you have the mechanic's inspection report, read it carefully. Is it from a reputable independent mechanic? Has the mechanic flagged any problems?

(Note: Used cars may pass as road worthy, but the mechanic should still flag if there are any worn parts that are likely to require replacement soon. You can then factor in the cost of this when negotiating the sale price.)

'I brought a 2004 plate Peugeot 307 last week and half way home once the car had warmed up oil pressure insufficient warning came up - on the dashboard a stop flashed up together with the oil sign. This didn't happen when we test drove it because the car hadn't had long enough to warm up. The dealer never mentioned anything about this fault.'

If the dealer does not arrange inspections, you could ask a local mechanic to carry out an inspection for you for a small charge to avoid situations such as the above. However if it subsequently turns out that your mechanic missed something in the report which later required repairing, your claim would be against your mechanic (for negligence / breach of contract) rather than against the dealer.

Protection if it all goes wrong

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 which came into force in October 2015 gives you protection when buying a used car.

The Act imposes a number of strict requirements on all goods sold:

  • The goods must be of satisfactory quality (taking into account that it is used)
  • The goods must be fit for purpose (i.e the car must be roadworthy and driveable unless described otherwise) including any purpose that you specify to the dealer
  • The goods must match the description given at the time of purchase

'I have just bought a Nissan Qashqai+2 (61 plate) and was told it had 12 months MOT. It broke down today and I called RAC who informed me that the cambelt has gone. Not only that but they told me it had no MOT. What can I do?'

This would be a breach of the Act requirements, as the vehicle does not match the description given at the time of purchase.

Any warranties or guarantees don't affect these rights.

'I was asked by a dealer to write and then sign to say I was happy to take car without a warranty. Is this a legal way for the dealer to get out of honouring a warranty if it is needed? I just feel I may have been conned and made a massive mistake.'

Dealers cannot dis-apply statutory rights given by The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and so you will still have rights to recourse even if you do not have a warranty.

(Note: the Courts do allow agreements that disputes will be referred to mediation or arbitration.)

What Steps Can I Take?

0 - 30 days since purchase

If you bought a product less than 30 days ago is unfit for purpose, faulty or not as described, you have the right to return the product and receive a full refund.

30 days - 6 months since purchase

If a fault is discovered after the first 30 days but within 6 months of the date of purchase, the fault is presumed to have been there at purchase. It is for the retailer to prove that this was not the case, and not for you to try to prove that it was.

If it has been over 30 days since you purchased the product, you can choose for the retailer to either:

  1. Repair the product, or
  2. Replace the product

The retailer may however refuse if they can show that your choice is disproportionately expensive compared to the alternative.

'We bought a 2011 Ford Focus estate 4 months ago from just over 8 grand from a dealer. In our 4 month of ownership it's been in the dealerships garage twice in two weeks! They said it's a fault with the fuel ejectors, and sent it home "fixed". A few days later it broke down again. What can we do?'

You will be entitled to a full refund if repair or replacement is not possible, or is unsuccessful. You have to give the dealership a reasonable opportunity to try to fix the fault. However if they have tried to repair the vehicle more than once unsuccessfully, this requirement will have been fulfilled.

Over 6 months since purchase

If a fault is discovered over 6 months after the date of purchase, it will be for you to prove that the fault was there at the time of purchase. It is likely that an expert report would be needed to prove this.

Buying a used car could potentially be quite high risk. However as set out above, you can take steps to reduce this risk. The law will also provide you some protection and the new Consumer Rights Act helpfully sets out your rights in the event that something goes wrong.

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[Add a Comment]
Jane66m- Your Question:
Bought a car just over a month ago from a dealer and it keeps going flat can't even jump start it now what can I do

Our Response:
Sounds likefaulty battery, if it has been like this since you purchased it take it back to the dealer as per the above article.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 24-May-17 @ 1:55 PM
Sarem - Your Question:
Hi I bought a car from motor trader forecourt had it 2 days the oil pump failed and bent the cam shaft took it back and dealer said it was ok when I sold it to you ,,,After a talk to him over the phone he said he's had it checked out and said it's going to cost £390 to repair what are my rights please there isn't any warranty with vehicle but 2 days doesn't seem fair

Our Response:
It sounds likely that the fault was there at the time of purchase. If you weren't made aware of it when the sale took place, the information in the above article applies.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 23-May-17 @ 2:16 PM
Bought a car just over a month ago from a dealer and it keeps going flat can't even jump start it now what can I do
Jane66m - 23-May-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi I bought a car from motor trader forecourt had it 2 days the oil pump failed and bent the cam shaft took it back and dealer said it was ok when I sold it to you ,,, After a talk to him over the phone he said he's had it checked out and said it's going to cost £390 to repair what are my rights please there isn't any warranty with vehicle but 2 days doesn't seem fair
Sarem - 22-May-17 @ 3:00 PM
sue - Your Question:
We bought a used car and now the garage is refusing to give a refund the car has numerous problems and fraudulent service history and was told it only had one owner when it as had two does anyone know where I stand

Our Response:
How long have you had it? What was the description etc? Sorry we need more information.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 22-May-17 @ 10:39 AM
Jessy - Your Question:
Hi Colin, we just yesterday bought a used car from a trader. It is a Seat Leon, 2006, 103 000miles for £2000 - market price. the car seemed ok and we drove it home almost 80 miles carefully it did not show any particular problems - the trader said it stayed without being used for 3 weeks so to be careful with breaks. when we arrived home after 40 -50 min the kids noticed the smoke coming out under the hood. we ran to open it and saw the fire. it took us a couple of minute to put out the fire. it looks the ignition coils got fire and some wiring burn off. we called the trader who was not happy to speak to us saying that if that happened on the road it would be a case but as it happened at home he has no responsibility. Is it true? we have 3 month warranty from him (for £500) but it will hardly cover all the damage. what can we do?

Our Response:
The fault was there at the time of purchase so in theory you should be able to reject it under the above legislation (please read the article). Paying an extra £500 for a 3 month warranty sounds very high, read the terms of the warranty, if it's unreasonable you should ask for a refund of this as well.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 22-May-17 @ 10:26 AM
Coolcar - Your Question:
Just been to authorised dealer to buy qashqai (3 year old). Signed the order form and finance papers. But car delivery in a couple of days due to replacement windscreen to be fitted. Came home and noticed on internet the MOT advisory note about worn break disc and break pad. I am furious that this was not disclosed to me. Do I have a right to refund deposit ? Thanks

Our Response:
If you were led to believe that the vehicle was in good condition etc then you have agreed the contract because of a misleading description. Firstly talk to the finance company if you've already agreed this part of the purchase, then speak to the dealer. They may be willing to replace the disc and brake pad before delivering you the vehicle.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 22-May-17 @ 10:03 AM
Just been to authorised dealer to buy qashqai (3 year old). Signed the order form and finance papers. But car delivery in a couple of days due to replacement windscreen to be fitted. Came home and noticed on internet the MOT advisory note about worn break disc and break pad. I am furious that this was not disclosed to me. Do I have a right to refund deposit ? Thanks
Coolcar - 22-May-17 @ 2:12 AM
Hi Colin, we just yesterday bought a used car from a trader. It is a Seat Leon, 2006, 103 000miles for £2000 -market price. the car seemed ok and we drove it home almost 80 miles carefully it did not show any particular problems - the trader said it stayed without being used for 3 weeks so to be careful with breaks. when we arrived home after 40 -50 min the kids noticed the smoke coming out under the hood. we ran to open it and saw the fire. it took us a couple of minute to put out the fire. it looks the ignition coils got fire and some wiring burn off...we called the trader who was not happy to speak to us saying that if that happened on the road it would be a case but as it happened at home he has no responsibility.Is it true?we have 3 month warranty from him (for £500) but it will hardly cover all the damage. what can we do?
Jessy - 21-May-17 @ 3:40 PM
Hi , we just yesterday bought a used car from a trader. It is a Seat Leon, 2006, 103 000miles for £2000 - market price. the car seemed ok and we drove it home almost 80 miles carefully it did not show any particular problems - the trader said it stayed without being used for 3 weeks so to be careful with breaks. when we arrived home after 40 -50 min the kids noticed the smoke coming out under the hood. we ran to open it and saw the fire. it took us a couple of minute to put out the fire. it looks the ignition coils got fire and some wiring burn off...we called the trader who was not happy to speak to us saying that if that happened on the road it would be a case but as it happened at home he has no responsibility.Is it true?we have 3 month warranty from him (for £500) but it will hardly cover all the damage. what can we do?
Jessy - 21-May-17 @ 3:39 PM
I bought a 3 year old car from a dealer. The advertisement on the dealers said it had Bluetooth. I have learned the car has none. To purchase and install the factory version would cost about £600. What can I do?
John - 20-May-17 @ 1:24 PM
I bought a 65 plate Kia Rio from a main Vauxhall dealer a week ago and have found that it missed its first service at 10000 miles and has been serviced at 11880 five months late kia themselves say the warranty may be invalid if a repair is needed can I ask for the Vauxhall dealer to give me my money back or replace with another car
Mickv - 20-May-17 @ 12:20 PM
We justbought a car today May 19, 2017. My son was driving home from work and a friends house and it already broke down. We think that there's more wrong with the car from what they told us. Can we return the car no wonder we haven't even had it 24 hours.
Amylou - 20-May-17 @ 5:16 AM
I bought a second hand Saab 9-3 convertible last October, mileage 69,500, the reputable dealer said they hand changed the timing belt before I took delivery. The car broke down this week, 77,000 miles.The AA recovered it and said it was the timing belt shredded and the engine may be terminally damaged. Can I ask the dealer to pay for the repairs due to failure of parts replaced so recently? Obviously it is outside the 6 months but the car was bought in good faith and it has already had the dual mass flywheel (dealer paid) and the swirl flaps and rear brake caliper (I paid) replaced and now it might have to be scrapped.
vr - 19-May-17 @ 9:52 PM
We bought a used car and now the garage is refusing to give a refund the car has numerous problems and fraudulent service history and was told it only had one owner when it as had two does anyone know where I stand
sue - 19-May-17 @ 11:37 AM
JT - Your Question:
Bought used car from a dealer 4 months ago that now requires new clutch. I like the car and want it repaired but dealer has said he might just buy it back. Can he do this without even attempting to repair the fault ?

Our Response:
Yes it is up to the dealer to choose whether to repair, replace (or refund) if it's after 30 days but before 6 mothns since purchase.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-May-17 @ 12:13 PM
Deejay - Your Question:
What does ' disproportionately expensive compared to the alternative ' mean ? I bought an Audi A4 2002 in January from used car sales and it now needs new clutch and dual mass flywheel costing £800. According to Consumer Rights Act 2015 I may be able to claim this as it is within 6 months of purchase. Can you please advise if possible ?

Our Response:
Yes, please see the above article for full details. If the dealer thinks it would be too expensive to repair, they may choose to offer a replacement.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-May-17 @ 12:00 PM
GEORGEBMW - Your Question:
Hello , I bought a second hand bmw from a local dealer , soon after (next day ) I noticed that the gears wer stiff and the engine was vibrating excessively, I notified the dealer who advised me to take it to a garage he uses who would have a look at it.The garage informs me that there is excessive wear on the clutch flywheel.Is the dealer responsible to repair this ?

Our Response:
If you were not informed of this at the time of purchase the fault will be deemed to have been there at the time of purchase if it's still less than 6 months since you purchased it. The information in the above article will therefore apply.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 17-May-17 @ 2:03 PM
Bought used car from a dealer 4 months ago that now requires new clutch. I like the car and want it repaired but dealer has said he might just buy it back. Can he do this without even attempting to repair the fault ?
JT - 17-May-17 @ 1:30 PM
Scud - Your Question:
Hi, I purchased a used car from a dealer end of November last year and is still in the 6months warranty. I can't get the car into gear so it maybe the clutch, I have only drove 3200 miles in the car. Will this be covered under the warranty? He also wanting me to drive the car to his garage but that will damage the car more so I expect he will say I am not covered for driving while it is as it is. Thanks

Our Response:
We don't know the terms of the warranty but if it's still less than 6 months since you purchased it you may be able to get it repaired/replaced under the consumer rights act 2015. Please see the above article for more information, where it states; "If a fault is discovered after the first 30 days but within 6 months of the date of purchase, the fault is presumed to have been there at purchase. It is for the retailer to prove that this was not the case, and not for you to try to prove that it was."
ConsumerRightsExpert - 17-May-17 @ 9:58 AM
What does ' disproportionately expensive compared to the alternative ' mean ? I bought an Audi A4 2002 in January from used car sales and it now needs new clutch and dual mass flywheel costing £800. According to Consumer Rights Act 2015 I may be able to claim this as it is within 6 months of purchase. Can you please advise if possible ?
Deejay - 17-May-17 @ 9:13 AM
Hello , I bought a second hand bmw from a local dealer , soon after (next day ) I noticed that the gears wer stiff and the engine was vibrating excessively, I notified the dealer who advised me to take it to a garage he uses who would have a look at it. The garage informs me that there is excessive wear on the clutch flywheel.Is the dealer responsible to repair this ?
GEORGEBMW - 16-May-17 @ 5:06 PM
Rina - Your Question:
I brought a 2010 journey from a private seller and on his ad he said wasn't nothing wrong with it. I even check the car fax and everything was good. He also wrote a note and sign it saying he given me a warranty on the engine and transmission for a month. I only drove the car 2 times and the 2nd time it start smoking. I took it to the shop and they said it was the Val cover and gasket. They also said it look like the car was in a accident and they put a use engine in the truck and parts wasn't put on right. I been calling the man and he haven't answer. Can I sue him for selling me a car thats not working? What should I do?

Our Response:
You can only take action against a private seller if they've given you deliberately misleading information. Have a word with a legal professional if you still have a copy of the ad and details of all he told you at the time of sale.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 15-May-17 @ 11:14 AM
Hi, I purchased a used car from a dealer end of November last year and is still in the 6months warranty. I can't get the car into gear so it maybe the clutch, I have only drove 3200 miles in the car. Will this be covered under the warranty? He also wanting me to drive the car to his garage but that will damage the car more so I expect he will say I am not covered for driving while it is as it is. Thanks
Scud - 14-May-17 @ 10:59 AM
I bought an insignia 2010 plate 6 months and 8 days ago. Today without warning it over heated and stopped working. I had a friend look at it roadside who said the oil pump wasn't working and the engine was damaged as a result. The 6 month warranty ran out on the 4 th of may. Do I still have any legal protection as the car after 6 months of purchase is not fit for purpose?
Lynds - 12-May-17 @ 7:41 PM
I brought a 2010 journey from a private seller and on his ad he said wasn't nothing wrong with it. I even check the car fax and everything was good. He also wrote a note and sign it saying he given me a warranty on the engine and transmission for a month. I only drove the car 2 times and the 2nd time it start smoking. I took it to the shop and they said it was the Val cover and gasket. They also said it look like the car was in a accident and they put a use engine in the truck and parts wasn't put on right. I been calling the man and he haven't answer. Can i sue him for selling me a car thats not working? What should I do?
Rina - 12-May-17 @ 1:20 AM
Willie - Your Question:
I bought a car about 3 months ago and was told that it only needed a frount alignment and the engin in my car just went down so I called the dealer that I got the jeep from amd he told me that he would put me in a new car today so I went there and now he is only wonting me to get in a car that was repoed today and I can only be in it for 3 day what do I do

Our Response:
If this just a case of supplying you a courtesy car while yours is being repaired we can't see that it is a problem.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 11-May-17 @ 9:58 AM
I bought a car about 3 months ago and was told that it only needed a frount alignment and the engin in my car just went down so i called the dealer that i got the jeep from amd he told me that he would put me in a new car today so i went there and now he is only wonting me to get in a car that was repoed today and i can only be in it for 3 day what do i do
Willie - 8-May-17 @ 4:57 PM
Hi, I am just waring to find out a legal requirement of a dealer. I am potentially taking out finance on a used car. It's a 59 plate 1.6i astra sxi. It hasn't got any service history, the dealer are putting through a fresh MOT, replaced the brakes and fuel ejectors aswel. I mentioned if they know the timing belt and waterump have been changed and they said they would not know. They said if I wanted them to change it, they will only charge for parts which cost £150 and won't charge me for labour costs. Now is this right for them to do or shul they not charge me atall?
Mike - 5-May-17 @ 9:27 PM
Hayley - Your Question:
Hi, we're taking a car dealer to the small claims court due to buying a faulty car that he would not take back. We need to hire a car whilst the case is ongoing and wondered, can we claim back the car hire as a reasonable expense? Thank you!

Our Response:
That will be for the courts to decide, but if you have no other transport, it's reasonable that this will be added to any compensation claim.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 2-May-17 @ 11:59 AM
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