taken for consumer direct.........
So, you've bought a car, but there's a problem. Here's what you need to do next.
If things go wrong
If something goes wrong,
stop using the car and go back to the dealer straight away and explain
the problem and say what you want done.
Keep in mind however that if you purchased your car with a Hire Purchase agreement,
your statutory rights will be with the finance company rather than the
dealer (under the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973). Under this
act the car must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, correspond
with any description given, and the creditor must have the right to
sell the car. Where the car does not correspond to any one of the above,
you may be entitled to reject the car for a full refund or claim
If the dealer fails to fulfill their obligations
under the Sale of Goods Act, with regard to satisfactory quality,
fitness for purpose, and the car's description, they will be in breach
of contract and you are entitled to various remedies. The appropriate
remedy will depend on a number of factors, including:
how long ago you purchased the car
the type of remedy that you are seeking
the seriousness of any fault or defect
whether the fault or defect keeps recurring
the cost of carrying out repairs or replacing the car
Here is a list of remedies to consider based on your specific circumstances:
You may be able to request a
full refund if you detected a serious fault, if it is still within a
reasonable time of the sale and you have stopped using the car.
'Reasonable time' is not defined in law so it will also depend on the
facts - it can vary from weeks to a few months. Be sure to keep all of
your documents, such as independent inspections in writing as it is up
to you to prove that the car was faulty at the time of the purchase if
the dealer disputes your claim. If your complaint is deemed valid, you
are also entitled to claim for reasonable losses suffered, including the
cost of any independent report you have paid for to prove your case.
If you initially choose to
allow the dealer to repair the fault within a reasonable period after
the sale, you are still entitled to a refund if the repair turns out to
If you are not entitled to a
full refund - for example, because a 'reasonable time' has elapsed, you
may be able to claim compensation for your losses resulting from being
supplied with a faulty car.
Basic example of when a refund may be applicable:
discover that your one-year old car bought from a dealer for £10,000 a
few days ago has a major engine fault. You complain to the dealer
straight away and request a full refund but the dealer disputes your
claim. You agree to take the car to an independent garage and they
confirm that the engine was in a very poor condition when sold. You
provide the dealer with a written report of the garage's findings and
ask for your money back.
In these circumstances the dealer must
accept the car back and provide a full refund, as well as pay for any
reasonable losses you have suffered such as the cost of the written
Repair or replacement
If you do not want (or are not entitled to) a full refund or
to claim compensation, you may request either a repair to the car or a
replacement for a similar car.
If you want a repair or
replacement (or when these are not feasible, a partial or full refund)
in the first six months after the sale, it is presumed that the fault or
defect was present at the time of the sale. This time, if it is
disputed by the dealer, the dealer must prove otherwise - not you. They
will need to provide reasonable evidence that the fault was not present
at the time of sale, not just a pre-sale 'tick box' check of the
mechanical condition of the car at the time it was sold.
However, if the fault or
defect only becomes apparent after six months, it is up to you to
provide evidence that it existed at the time of the sale.
Repairs and replacements must be carried out within a reasonable time without causing you any significant inconvenience.
Any replacement car you are
offered should be of a similar age, mileage and model as your original
car at the time you requested the replacement.
Basic example of when a repair or replacement might be applicable:
complain to your dealer that the one-year old car you bought from them
for £8,000 three months ago has a faulty gearbox so you ask them to
repair the car. It will be presumed that the car had a faulty gearbox at
the time of sale and the dealer must carry out the repair to the
gearbox at no cost to you unless they can prove that the car was of
satisfactory quality at the time of sale.
Partial and full refund
If neither a repair nor
replacement is realistically possible, you can request a partial or full
refund depending on what is reasonable in the circumstances. For
example, it may be the case that a full refund is not an option because
you have used the car for some time before the problem appeared.
You can switch between certain remedies if you find you are
getting nowhere with the dealer. But you must give the dealer a
reasonable time to honour your request before you switch and you can
never pursue two remedies at the same time.
Basic example of when you might switch remedies:
discover that a one-year old car you bought for £10,000 three months
ago is faulty. You take it to the dealer who agrees to repair the car.
The dealer takes over two months to repair the car but the fault
persists. In these circumstances you may request a replacement car or a
refund instead because the repairs have not remedied the fault, were not
carried out within a reasonable time and have caused significant
inconvenience to you.
You can usually take court
action up to six years from the date you bought the car (five years in
Scotland). This does not mean that the car has to last or be fault free
for six years; it is the time limit for making a claim in court in
respect of a fault that was present at the time of sale. Before taking
such action you may want consider obtaining independent legal advice.
If the dealer is a member of a trade association such as Motor Codes, Retail Motor Industry Federation, Scottish Motor Trade Association or Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that follows a code of practice, you should follow any complaint procedure they operate.
Look out for businesses displaying the OFT Approved code logo.
It means that the business is operating under a trade body that has an
approved code of practice- providing you with high standards of customer
service and ensuring your rights as a consumer are better protected.
The Motor Codes of Practice for New Cars (covering warranties on new
cars and older cars where the manufacturer's warranty is still current)
is approved under this scheme. For more information visit www.oft.gov.uk/codes and www.motorcodes.co.uk .
In Scotland, some district
councils require used vehicle dealers to register, and issue them with a
licence. If you are in Scotland and have problems with a dealer,
contact your local Trading Standards Services