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Buying a Used Car: Your Rights

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 15 Jul 2020 | 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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I botha Nissanjuke2013on the 20th of may 2020I noticedsome littleproblemcomingup on the dashboardkey signcomingup andbreak signcomingup so I contactmy and to himhe said the car keys batteryso I changeit the same problemit's on and offnow I noticethe side not comingout it's on and off now I understandthat the car gearboxis a reconditioned he never told me when I buy it so called and told I find the paper work for the gearboxhe said he dont know about it so he wasn'thonestfrom first when to buy the carone of the tireswas badly damaged when i boughtit and i never noticedis the somethingto do withthe steeringwheelfalling not for roadany advisedwhat can I dohe didn'ttell true aboutthe car
Annette - 15-Jul-20 @ 4:07 AM
I bought a car on 1st on march 2020 end of June I drove to show on way back i started car up I couldn't put car in to gear so take the car back to garage thay say the clutch has gone thay saying it going to cost £1050 what are my rights
woody - 9-Jul-20 @ 7:10 PM
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Jay - 29-Apr-20 @ 8:44 PM
Hey I bought a 2012 volvo from a dealership I've had the car 9 days now after about 3 days the exhaust sounded blown so I messaged the dealer and he said to take it back and he would have a look after I took it back he said that the flexi was blown and he would get it fixed 2 days later I got a txt saying it was ready to pick up and they replaced the flexi when I got it home the car was still making the noise so I looked at the flexi and it hadn't been changed what can I do? Thanks
Jack - 23-Feb-20 @ 4:48 PM
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fedup - 23-Jan-20 @ 11:40 AM
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Giedre - 21-Jan-20 @ 6:25 PM
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Dee - 13-Jan-20 @ 8:41 PM
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valep88 - 7-Jan-20 @ 8:58 PM
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Jackie - 2-Jan-20 @ 5:05 PM
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Perry - 30-Dec-19 @ 7:00 PM
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Kevin - 26-Nov-19 @ 12:01 AM
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Sam - 5-Nov-19 @ 9:57 PM
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k.c - 19-Oct-19 @ 7:48 PM
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locsel - 13-Oct-19 @ 2:47 PM
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Ste65 - 28-Sep-19 @ 4:23 PM
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Shaz - 10-Sep-19 @ 10:35 PM
We bought a second hand car which broke down within weeks but the garage responded quickly in having the car repaired in a matter of days however it has broken down again 3 months later and when i called they stated they were closed for holiday and wouldn’t be back for another 12 days. They even said we could have the car delivered to them for when they returned but why should we meet that cost? The garage is 45mins away. Can we take it elsewhere to be repaired and send them the bill?
Ang - 4-Sep-19 @ 11:44 AM
My son payed £10k for a second hand car from a garage 8 months ago and had various issues with the car, in about the first month the clutch being one of them, the garage told him they couldn't find any issue with the clutch (he has this in writing). The clutch has now failed and the garage says the have no responsibility to replace the clutch is this correct.
Deadmeat - 28-Aug-19 @ 12:43 PM
I bought a 2010 GMC Terrain from newly Buick in st George Utah we paid a little over 10,grand out the door it was used “as is no warranty “ I drove it for 40 days when the timing chain broke on it, what kind of rights do I have?? Thank you
Pammy - 26-Aug-19 @ 7:22 PM
Evening, today l bought my first car Nissan Juke 1.5 from a car dealer. leaving tbe premises no more than 10 minutes there was atiny smell whuch my daughter age 14 smelt. l stopped to check but l couldn't see anything, then the scent was gone. l began drinking heading for the junction, l drove on the M6 between 5 and 7, and it was there that the car broke down completely with the front part all in smoke of burnt rubber. The RAC after they arrived, said the clutch had gone and the battery. This all took place less than an hour. The car will be taken back first thing tomorrow to where l bought it. l want my deposit back will l get a full refund as it was less than 30 days?
kez - 30-Jul-19 @ 11:28 PM
Hi I bought a car a Renault koleos 2009 model I have had it 6 days & the fuel injection system warning light came on I read the manual which says take the car to a dealer I contacted Rooney Car Sales in Glasgow where I bought it from whom said he will have his mechanic look at it. I have now been reading the reviews for this company and loads of other buyers have had the same problem with either they’re engines or other things wrong just after 1 week -3 weeks of purchase I had to get £2000 finance to buy this car as I only got £2000 for my other car that was written off due to another crashing into the back of me so £4000 in total for this car I would like to return my car & get my money back not take another car is this my rights to ask for my cash back please advise me so I know what to say to the car dealer tomorrow or Thursday. Kind regards Rona Hargan
None - 25-Jun-19 @ 9:03 PM
I hope this letter finds you well. I bought a Toyota Yaris 2012 at Mayesbrook Car seller in Barking on 2nd May 2019. Recently, I paid in full amount my balance in my car finance loan as I want to sell the car, privately, after I found a new one that my wife really loves at an affordable price. I brought the car to CAR SHOP last weekend in Becontree to value my car but I was surprised to find out that, according to them and the pieces of evidence found, they can conclude that the car has been involved in the accident in the past. One of the clear evidence was the bumper has been replaced and poorly repaired. There is also evidence of the car received painting works. The car dealer, Mayesbrook (where I bought the car) lied to about the state of the car, and that if I had been made aware of the accident or rapair in the first place, I wouldn't have purchased it. It is under finance for £4000. I bought it for £5199 with £1199 as my deposit (£500 in cash and £699 in bank transfer). The car valuation came out only as £2450 because of the state of the car. For a buyer like me who don't know anything about the car, I would expect nothing is hidden when they advertise the car for sale and the car will be safe to drive. Mayesbrook claimed that all their cars have been checked and not been involved in any accidents. I was told by the valuer that some accidents are not recorded and reported to the insurance company in order not to be categorised as CAT N or CAT S. In this case, the value of the car will still be high once repaired. Isn't it that when a repair is done it will be categorised as CAT N or CAT S, depending on the severity of the repair to be done? In the sale advertisement, nothing is mentioned about the repair done and if the vehicle is belongs to any of these categories. Just this afternoon, webuyanycar representative came to have a final check the car before they can provide me their final valuation and as expected, the findings were the same as the Car Shop valuer findings. The car have received repainting and for this reason, most of the body works problems were hidden and no buyer will know the extent of the damage before the repainting is conducted. Am I not protected by "Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations" in this instance? I am happy for you to bring your own assessor to check the car and I'll show you the pieces of evidence pointed out to me by the car valuer. I don't know what is the extent of repair done in the car and it could be a risk to me and the other motorist if something happens while driving it. At the moment, I stopped driving the car after the CAR SHOP assessment. Please help me return this car to the dealer while it is under the 3 months warranty.
Allan - 21-Jun-19 @ 11:34 PM
SIGNED ON 25TH MARCH FOR FINANCE ON 2012 Q3 FROM CAR DEALER. PICKED CAR UP FOLLOWING WEEK HAVING BEEN SERVICED VALETED AND MOT. WIFE NOTICED SCRATCHED WINDSCREEN PASSENGER SIDE WHEN GOT HOME. ALSO WINDSCREEN WIPER BLADES COMING OUT OF HOLDERS. ALSO NOTICED STEERING WHEEL VIBRATION. GOT FRONT WHEELS BALANCED NEXT DAY BUT NO DIFFERENCE. CAR BACK TO DEALERS FOUR DAYS LATER FOR NEW SCREEN, WIPERS AND STEERING PUMP INSPECTION. GOT CAR BACK TWO DAYS LATER AND TOLD TO TRY FOR 200 MILES. NO BETTER AFTER 200 MILES SO GOT TYRE SPOT TO DO LASER TRACKING, FULL WHEEL BALANCE AND WHEEL ROTATION. THEY FOUND ONE TYRE SPLIT AND OUT OF SHAPE AND TWO PASSENGER WHEELS BENT. TOOK BACK TO DEALER WITH REPORT AND THE GOT WHEELS STRAIGHTENED. STILL GETTING VIBRATION SO CAR WAS SENT OFF TO AUDI WHO PERFORMED A SOFTWARE UPDATE. GOT CAR BACK AFTER 10 DAYS. MARGINAL IMPROVEMENT BUT NOT FIXED. DEALER GOT A DIFFERENT GARAGE TO CHECK IT OUT AND THEY FOUND BROKEN COIL SPRING AND OVAL TYRE. BOTH RENEWED AS WELL AS NEW FRONT PADS. STILL VIBRATING STEERING WHEEL. SO WENT BACK TO TYRE SPOT AND GOT FRONT WHEELS BALANCED AGAIN. BETTER BUT STILL THERE. TESTED BY DEALER MECHANIC AND SAYS ITS OK ( NOT CONVINCED). ON HIS TEST DRIVE A FAULT SHOWED UP ON FUEL SENDER UNIT. PART FROM GERMANY TO BE FITTED TOMORROW 11TH JUNE 2019. TODAY MY CAR HEATER IS JUST BLOWING COLD AIR. SO AFTER THE SENDER UNIT IS FITTED TOMORROW I HAVE ANOTHER REPAIR WAITING FOR THE GARAGE. DO I HAVE GROUNDS TO REJECT THIS CAR WHICH I'VE HARDLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE HAVING ALREADY MADE TWO PAYMENTS OF £219 TO SANTANDER. I HAVE PUT MORE MILES ON THE COURTESY CAR THEY GIVE ME WHICH HAPPENS TO BE THE ONE I PART EX'D. THIS HAS BECOME A JOKE BUT HOW FAR DO I GO IN ALLOWING REPAIRS TO BE DONE. I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THIS CAR NOW DESPITE STILL THINKING THE VIBRATION PROBLEM IS STILL THERE.
TESH - 12-Jun-19 @ 10:23 PM
I bought a Vauxhall Insignia from a Vauxhall dealer March 2018. Prior to collection, they said they would Mot and service the car.When I collected the car I asked for the service history, which wasn't available to give me at the time, so would be posted to me. It was requested again in June when the car required some work (brake pads and discs) but not received. The car has its major service in April 2019, again the service history was asked for (twice) but was told there was a back log for service books and it would be forwarded on to me. To date it has not arrived.My concern is that the service manager claimed the car was overdue its cambelt change, 6 years or 100,000 miles whichever came first. The car was 7 years old when I bought it with 63k on the clock. I took finance to buy a newer car to avoid costly repairs and feel I am being fobbed off with excuses trying to obtain the service history.
Black cat - 20-May-19 @ 7:05 PM
My daughter bought a car 6 weeks ago and the clutch has gone. I contacted dealer with the consumer rights act 2015 in mind and he told me it was not his responsibility. Does she have any rights?
Mich - 9-Apr-19 @ 5:11 PM
My daughter bought a car 6 weeks ago, the clutch has gone, I contacted dealer with the consumer rights act 2015 in mind but he says it’s nothing to do with him. Does she have rights?
Mich - 9-Apr-19 @ 5:09 PM
Does a garage have to rectify advisories on MOT when selling you a used car as to me the car has a clear issue waiting to happen and therefore be unfair in the buyer to replace after paying 5,000 for a car
Carlos - 2-Apr-19 @ 12:35 AM
I bought a car in August last year after a week i discovered a faults garage offering to help but that was 4 hours away from him also i have 3 old son which i asked to pay for petrol and accommodation he refused i went to local garage which provided invoice of faults but he refused to pay, car was sold with faulty had brake which i didn't knowalso in date of purchase i had MOT please help me I'm in dept now cos of him
Annetta - 20-Feb-19 @ 9:13 PM
I bought a grand c max 62 plate at the end of June 2018 but had it back to dealer a few after buying it but now it engine it on it way out but looking though paper it had a problem with the engine at 37000. So can I take it back again but this time I want my money back.. can I do this?
Tinkyeza - 9-Feb-19 @ 7:23 PM
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