Used cars: know your rights - part 4

  • Buying a used car
  • Don't get ripped off
  • Week-long special series
What Car? has teamed up with the Government-funded consumer rights organisation Consumer Direct to help you avoid getting ripped off when buying a used car. From explaining your rights through to making a complaint, we'll help you stay one step ahead of unscrupulous car dealers. Join us for our week-long series of reports and advice.

How and when to complain
The Office of Fair Trading's investigation into the used car market in 2009 revealed that 85% of the problems with used cars surfaced within the first three months of buying the car, yet many owners ended up paying for repairs themselves at an average cost of £465.

The Sale of Goods Act protects buyers from poor quality-cars, and you have a right to expect a used vehicle to be of satisfactory quality. The onus is on the dealer to carry out checks and ensure that the car is in a fit state to be sold.

The term 'satisfactory quality' can be hard to define, but the OFT describes it as a standard that a reasonable person would expect from that car taking into account its age, the price, its history, mileage, etc. So, you'd expect more from a year-old car that's covered a few thousand miles, compared with a 10-year-old vehicle with 70,000 miles on the clock.

Know your rights
Before you get too heated about the situation, talk to the dealer. You should find that a polite request is more effective than ranting and raving.

It's important that you're calm, but you also need to remain in control and take the lead – if you come across as unsure or lack conviction, the dealer may attempt to fob you off.

If you can't come to a quick agreement as to how the problem should be resolved, you need to put your concerns in writing - this may prove useful at a later date, so make sure you keep all the relevant paperwork.

The problem doesn't have to be obvious at the time you take delivery of the vehicle - if it's something that was 'latent', then the dealer may still be liable.

If the garage fails to acknowledge your concerns, or doesn't rectify the fault properly, you should contact Consumer Direct for advice on the next best course of action.

To make sure you know your rights when buying a used car visit Consumer Direct.

See also
Know your rights – part 1
Know your rights – part 2
Know your rights – part 3
Consumer Direct webchat replay
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