Can I get a refund for faulty car? 

Reader asks what are her rights after the secondhand car she bought develops a fault just two weeks after she bought it...

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Claire Evans
13 May 2019

Used car forecourt

I bought a car 18 days ago, and, on the 14th day of ownership, the clutch failed. I informed the company I’d bought the car from and arranged for my breakdown service provider to take the car back to them. 

Two days later, the dealer told me that they couldn’t start working on the car for another five days because they had a backlog of other cars to work on. They did offer me a courtesy car, but advised me I would have to pick it up, which I couldn’t do. So I decided that I would rather reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act and get my money back. 

When I stated this, the dealer’s staff became aggressive and threatened to take me to court. I was absolutely horrified. They tried to insist I keep the car, saying I would be stupid to reject it and that they would deduct mileage costs from the sale and money for some bumper protectors I’d had fitted to the car.  

I understand that they are frustrated about the sale, but I have purchased a car with a significant fault and don’t feel confident about driving it any more. 

I am willing to lose some money for mileage, but I think it’s unacceptable that the car’s clutch failed two weeks after it had been given a full service and MOT. Do I have the right to reject this car? 

Alexia Ohene

What Car? says…

You have the right to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and receive a full refund in the first 30 days after buying it if it's not of satisfactory quality. The fact that it’s suffered the failure of a major component so soon after you bought it should be sufficient evidence of this. 

The trader isn't legally allowed to charge you for mileage done in the first 30 days, and as long as the bumper protectors can be removed and haven’t caused any damage to the bodywork, they shouldn’t charge for these, either. So you shouldn't be left out of pocket at all. 

The best way to reject the car is to write a letter stating why you're rejecting it and that you have the right to a full refund under the relevant law. Give this to the dealer, along with the keys and any paperwork. 

If the dealer doesn’t accept your rejection, report them to your local Trading Standards office and The Motor Ombudsman. You might have to start small claims court proceedings against them to get the money, but in most cases things can be resolved before it gets to court. 

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