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Buying a Used Car: Your Rights

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 21 Jul 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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When i bought my car i left the garage with my bank details for a £6000 deposit. After 5 weeks they still havn't taken the money. Do I have any claim to keep it?
jay - 21-Jul-17 @ 4:41 PM
I've just purchased a used vehicle from a dealer, The car came with 12 months MOT which was signed off the day I completed the purchased however the car's exhaust has completely come off due to bad maintenance, This wasn't explained to me at the time of the purchase and it makes me wonder what sort of mechanic carried out the MOT, Has anyone experienced this or does anyone have any advice for me?
RyanDKnowles93 - 17-Jul-17 @ 3:44 PM
Bought a year old car 2-3 weeks ago for 12K. Have taken it back to garage as heard scraping sound when I opened the car window.They have told me it is corroded brake pads. I am not sure what to do as I've lost confidence. What do you advise?
grandcitroen - 14-Jul-17 @ 4:55 PM
On 25th February this year I purchased a Peugeot 207 for £2500 from a car dealer in part exchange. Since purchasing the car I have had it serviced and MOT’d (May 2017).The car has been driven in a normal manner and has had its fluid levels regularly checked and topped up if and when required.Recently (11th July) the car broke down whilst my daughter was driving.The car was towed to our local garage.On initial examination we have been advised that there is a fault with the engine and that it has seized.There has been no loss of water or oil; all levels are as they should be.The timing belt has not snapped.The garage has advised that the engine cannot be turned by hand clockwise as it is absolutely solid.It will however turn anti-clockwise. The costs of repair are likely to be over £1000.I did not purchase a warranty with the car.Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, what course of action can I take with the car dealership? And if they don't reply what can I do?
Mark - 13-Jul-17 @ 11:58 AM
Hi this is a long story. I bought a car on finance from a dealer. The car came with 3 months warranty then i renewed the warranty to have for 12 months. In 5 month the car suffered with 4 engine faults and crack in manifold going into lenda sensor, this was inspected by my own garage. The warranty did not want to pay out as they said it was pre existing faults. The dealer did not want to pay out as they said it happened after 3 months. It has took them over 2 months to decide it was dealers fault and now he is repairinh. Can i claim for hiring a car against the dealer As it took so long to sort out? Over 2 months without a car.
Mr T - 12-Jul-17 @ 6:21 PM
Tammy - Your Question:
I brought a ford focus on a 13 plate it has automatic gear box not even a month ago on finance from a dealership company.noticed straight away the car shuddered as go to pull away from stop postition got told it was the gators.then got told it was prop sharft went back to the dealership they said they changed both things stated and its still shuddering.where do I stand with this please help

Our Response:
If it's still within 30 days you have a right to reject the vehicle for a major fault. See the above article for more information.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 3-Jul-17 @ 2:40 PM
I brought a ford focus on a 13 plate it has automatic gear box not even a month ago on finance from a dealership company...noticed straight away the car shuddered as go to pull away from stop postition got told it was the gators..then got told it was prop sharft went back to the dealership they said they changed both things stated and its still shuddering...where do i stand with this please help
Tammy - 2-Jul-17 @ 7:25 PM
Tracey123 - Your Question:
Bought a golf for 5,500 and it broke down after 9 days dealer said to get a quote which I have they then told me to get a cheaper one and said they would pay towards costs they dragged it out have now found out that the head gasket has gone and repair is well over 1000 pounds I only did 87 miles in the car and now the dealer said they sold it to me with no warrenty as I knocked 500 quid off the asking price but I only did that as the windscreen had a crack in it and both head lights were full of water and no parcel shelf he never told me I wasn't eating my warrenty and has written spares or repairs on my receipt after I signed it I'm fuming I kept the advert which states 3 month warrenty and texts saying the car is in amazing condition where do I stand

Our Response:
Se the above article. If you're still within 30 days you may be able to reject it.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 30-Jun-17 @ 1:50 PM
Bought a golf for 5,500 and it broke down after 9 days dealer said to get a quote which I have they then told me to get a cheaper one and said they would pay towards costs they dragged it out have now found out that the head gasket has gone and repair is well over 1000 pounds I only did 87 miles in the car and now the dealer said they sold it to me with no warrenty as I knocked 500 quid off the asking price but I only did that as the windscreen had a crack in it and both head lights were full of water and no parcel shelf he never told me I wasn't eating my warrenty and has written spares or repairs on my receipt after I signed it I'm fuming I kept the advert which states 3 month warrenty and texts saying the car is in amazing condition where do I stand
Tracey123 - 29-Jun-17 @ 9:58 PM
Hi was wondering if you could help me out..I bought my Vauxhall Astra exactly 2 weeks ago, the coil pack has gone on it today..I've rang the dealer I bought the car from and they said it's not their responsibility, it's a wear and tear part...are they correct by saying that? Is there anything I can do or am I going to have to pay to get it fixed?
TJ - 29-Jun-17 @ 5:28 PM
jo - Your Question:
I had car on finance within 14 days of having car I started having problems over heating loud noise they said it was snow tyre on car I took it back twice second time I left it there rejected it not fit for purpose I was nervouse driving it now finance want money I lost job can you plz let me now if I am in my rights to reject car its making me ill worryin plz can you tell me if I'm within my rights to leave car wal away

Our Response:
If you have rejected the car because of your consumer rights and the dealer accepted the rejection,you should make arrangements to cancel the finance agreement on that basis.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:44 PM
Red - Your Question:
I bought a car from a car dealer 6 months ago. Police phoned to say I had to go to police station with the car, they then told me I had bought a stolen car and took it from me.Am I entitled to the 15. 000 pounds back from car dealer.

Our Response:
Youmay have to try and recover your money via the courts for this, so it would be worth seeking professional legal advice.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 23-Jun-17 @ 1:59 PM
I had car on finance within 14 days of having car I started having problems over heating loud noise they said it was snow tyre on car I took it back twice second time I left it there rejected it not fit for purpose I was nervouse driving it now finance want money I lost job can you plz let me now if I am in my rights to reject car its making me ill worryin plz can you tell me if I'm within my rights to leave car wal away
jo - 22-Jun-17 @ 2:44 PM
I bought a car from a car dealer 6 months ago. Police phoned to say I had to go to police station with the car, they then told me I had bought a stolen car and took it from me. Am I entitled to the 15. 000 pounds back from car dealer.
Red - 22-Jun-17 @ 9:39 AM
I brought a honda crv on the 23.06.16 from a Skoda dealership in Chichester. I made them service it before I brought it and give it a once over. Today I took it for its first service since owning it (21.06.17). The honda garage informed me they couldn't complete the service because the sump plug had been cross threaded previously so was leaking oil. And the sump would have to be replaced or removed and drilled out and rethreaded. But I'd have to pay £670. I spoke with the skoda dealership who said they accept no liability as its almost a year and 8000 miles later. Where do I stand? As they're basically accusing the honda garage of doing the damage.
Jimmy - 21-Jun-17 @ 5:58 PM
andy - Your Question:
I bought a '09 golf from a garage on the 20th may 17,for £4995 (inc trade in car at £300), and took warranty for 6 month at £200. Within first couple weeks booked car into my local garage for aircon recharge found out compressor had failed but the warranty covered this and was sorted. My brakes were feeling not as good as they should be, I figured feeling was down to being a different car, but booked service at trusted local to be safe. Report isn't good, both front brake discs are severely corroded on inside and rears are not far behind, both rear shocks are leaking, I had a look round car before buying, without getting underneath some things are hard to see. Is the garage liable/obliged to repair these being such a short interval since purchase?

Our Response:
The courts often take a car's age/mileage into consideration when making decisions in cases like this. If it was a new car of course you could return it but brakes/shock absorbers are usually classed as a wear and tear. If you were told the car was in excellent condition or it a low mileage and you wouldn't expect this from a vehicle that age/mileage, you may have a chance of a free repair under the above legislation.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 20-Jun-17 @ 11:45 AM
Steve - Your Question:
Hi brought a 2012 seat Leon 14 weeks ago from a dealer after a mth I reported a faulty gearbox I thought it was a clutch to which they replied clutch is not covered under warrant as it's wear and tear fair enough when I got round to changing the clutch a mth later turns out it it's the gear box I have covered just 3000 miles the dealer told me I didn't report the fault to the warranty people which was aa and telling the garage is no could now they won't do anything for me the car is on finance

Our Response:
In general the retailer (dealer) is responsible for this. If the fault was there at the time of purchase they should repair or replace it as per the advice in our article above.Speak to your finance company for assistance with getting this sorted out if the dealer doesn't not agree to abide by the Consumer Rights legislation.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 20-Jun-17 @ 10:43 AM
I bought a '09 golf from a garage on the 20th may 17,for £4995 (inc trade in car at £300), and took warranty for 6 month at £200. Within first couple weeks booked car into my local garage for aircon recharge found out compressor had failed but the warranty covered this and was sorted. My brakes were feeling not as good as they should be, I figured feeling was down to being a different car, but booked service at trusted local to be safe. Report isn't good, both front brake discs are severely corroded on inside and rears are not far behind, both rear shocks are leaking, I had a look round car before buying, without getting underneath some things are hard to see. Is the garage liable/obliged to repair these being such a short interval since purchase?
andy - 18-Jun-17 @ 11:18 AM
Hi brought a 2012 seat Leon 14 weeks ago from a dealer after a mth I reported a faulty gearbox I thought it was a clutch to which they replied clutch is not covered under warrant as it's wear and tear fair enough when I got round to changing the clutch a mth later turns out it it's the gear box I have covered just 3000 miles the dealer told me I didn't report the fault to the warranty people which was aa and telling the garage is no could now they won't do anything for me the car is on finance
Steve - 18-Jun-17 @ 10:14 AM
We bought a landrover Discovery on 14 July 2016 from a private dealer , it had a a new engine before we purchased the car , that's why we bought it , The car broke down on the 17th of September with our caravan on, had to be taken all the way home , went into our local garage and it was a turbo issue , Then on the 25th January 2017 the car broke down again this time nearer homethe car again kept cutting out and was alternated issue , Also on the 3rd of June 2017 we broke down on The M62with the caravan on the back had to be taken home , again the car was cutting out ( losing power)and wouldn't start now the engine has completely seized, Any advice would be valued Thankyou Chris
Chris - 17-Jun-17 @ 7:55 AM
Ab - Your Question:
I recently bought a nissan l200 from a respectable (so I thought) dealer in 4x4 sales nottingham and after couple of days the 4x4 was faulty,it was advertised with rear parking sensors, 3 owners there we're 5 no sensors no reversing lights,rear leaf springs changed they were not they were very rusty and one was broke ,brake pipes badly corroded ,exchaust had 3 holes in so how was it motd ,then head gasket went so I contacted them and all they did was fob me off I have a 12month warranty but they won't honour it so should the veichle get mot checked

Our Response:
It sounds as though you have been given misleading information when sold the item. It also sounds like it is not fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality. You should return it - check out the information in our article above.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 16-Jun-17 @ 12:07 PM
I recently bought a nissan l200 from a respectable (so I thought) dealer in 4x4 sales nottingham and after couple of days the 4x4 was faulty,it was advertised with rear parking sensors, 3 owners there we're 5 no sensors no reversing lights,rear leaf springs changed they were not they were very rusty and one was broke ,brake pipes badly corroded ,exchaust had 3 holes in so how was it motd ,then head gasketwent so I contacted them and all they did was fob me off I have a 12month warranty but they won't honour it so should the veichle get mot checked
Ab - 13-Jun-17 @ 9:44 PM
I bought an Vauxhall Antara as an ex demo car in 2012 at a cost of £19,000 with 1,000 on the clock. It is now out of warranty. Last week it broke down so was taken to Vauxhall garage. The long and the short of it is the gear box has gone!! Really registered 2012 with 29,0000 on the clock. Vauxhall are now contacting head office to see if they will contribute to put it right?? Im not very positive about this. So far it has cost £700 + vat (not yes paid) to fill the transmission box with oil(on vauxhall technicals advise) Gear box will cost £3500 + vat plus about + vat!! Where do we stand legally with this? Michelle
michelle maria sears - 8-Jun-17 @ 6:00 PM
Hi,2 months ago I travelled from Belfast to England to buy a used Renault Clio sport.i could not get one anywhere else for the price and milage(39000).As the car was white in colour and not the colour I wanted I brought it home and had it professionally wrapped at a cost of £1400.How ever last weekend the car broke down on me and had to be recovered to my local Renault dealer.it was diagnosed as needing a new fuel pump.at a cost of £530 for parts and labour.When I contacted the warranty provider they said that they would only cover the cheapest possible replacement part.ie.they would only pay up to £300.when the fuel pump was replaced it was discovered that the car also needed an new alternator at a cost of £500.The car was purchased on finance set up with the dealer.Can I demand the dealer take the car back or am I stuck with..I am worried that other thing will go wrong with it when the useless warrenty runs out.
Curty - 7-Jun-17 @ 6:46 PM
I purchased a car at the start of April 2017. It is an Astra VXR 2008 plate.I live in Scotland and I purchased the car from England.On the day I collected the car from the garage and was driving home the car started to go into limp mode when the boost kicked in.I contacted the garage and they told me I had to wait until my warranty welcome pack came through and claim off of it.I was not happy with that so they eventually agreed to pay for a diagnostic check at my local dealer.The diagnosis was that the actuator was faulty so I replaced it out of my own pocket but the problem didn't change.I had a mechanic look at it again and fixed the solenoid boost. The repair seemed to work but 2 days later the car is back doing what it was at the start only worse than ever.I have contacted the warranty and they told me I have to pay for an inspector to come and look at my car and claim the costs back if they agreed with the fault and we're willing to refund costs.I do not have the money for this, I have paid the repairs so far out of my own pocket and cannot afford any more. I am extremely unhappy with the car but don't know what to do next.The car dealer is ignoring my calls and messages.
Laffy01224 - 6-Jun-17 @ 6:51 AM
Hi, I have bought a Mercedes C250 65 plate on the 27th November 2016 and I am still within my 6 months period. I have had a few problems with my car such as the screen on the dashboard keeps going blank and cannot turn it back on, the car keeps jerking whilst at a traffic light - the speed dial would move up and down slightly whilst it jerks and also. The car has been booked in at the dealers 2/3 times for the same problems. These problems however, still occur...even after they kept it in for 2 days! The other day, I was coming out of a car park and as i steered to the left it started making a scraping noise and it felt like it was coming underneath the chasis but when i looked there was nothing there. and the noise came back after a few minutes as i was driving on a main road. Booked it in for and yet the dealer could not find the problem. I am just wondering where i stand. As i have booked it in more than once, i could be entitled to a refund. However, if i am just looking for them to replace my car, would they just replace it like for like? without affecting my monthly payment as I am on a hire purchase agreement.
Mubz - 2-Jun-17 @ 5:52 PM
Hi, I bought a car from Jct 29 Select, Mansfield in Nov 2016. This was sold with FSH, However, they said that this would be forwarded to me in the post. I have called them over the past 7 months chasing this but never seem to get anywhere with it. I am now looking at selling this vehicle and require the FSH it was sold with. Is there anything I can do to raise a complaint about this? Thanks
Blocko1 - 2-Jun-17 @ 2:24 PM
Bought a car from a second hand dealer. Car time. They advertised the car as having blue tooth, I still have there paper work showing this. After collecting the car realised I couldn't connect to the blue tooth and took it to main dealer who informed me that the car didn't have blue tooth. Where do I stand with this as only purchased the car as I wanted blue tooth. Thank you
Sally - 31-May-17 @ 10:11 PM
Hi I purchased insignia 1.8 petrol 2010 plate on 22 Feb 2017 from a used car dealer. Within a few weeks we noticed visible signs of blown head gasket. Was took in and repaired through 6month rac warranty on car. Picked car up drove about 500 yards and engine management light came on. On return to garage he informed me it was cam shaft sensor. To cut a long story short my car has been back to the garage about 6 or 7 times in the last few weeks as the light has repeatedly came back on with same fault. I've just had a phone call again to collect car and been informed light is off again. What are my rights if the light comes back on as I feel like I'm being palmed off now bearing in mind before the head gasket was repaired there were no lights showing on dash. Thanks.
Sandas22 - 31-May-17 @ 5:07 PM
I found a car on a website, phoned up and put a deposit on and made an appointment to view in a few days time.I have just rechecked the website and the price of the vehicle has been increased by £700.Can I demand the vehicle at the original price?I have a photo of the original advert. Regards
Beans - 30-May-17 @ 6:43 PM
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