Can I reject used car that broke down the day after I bought it?

A reader asks if she has the right to hand back a faulty car, or if she should allow the dealer to try to fix it...

broken down car and warning triangle

I purchased a 2012 BMW 116i Sport on Sunday from a dealer and it seemed fine, but it unexpectedly broke down on Monday night, leaving me stranded and alone in the dark. 

The dealership has offered to collect the car and do diagnostics tests to find out what is wrong with it, but they have not done this yet. I have sent them an email confirming the issue with the car, with images of the fault displayed on the dash, but have received no response to this. I simply want the refund that I am legally entitled to within the first 30 days of buying the car. However, the dealership manager was been unhelpful and defensive when I spoke to him prior to emailing, and he was keen to stress that they should have the opportunity to fix the car.

BMW 1 Series


I’m now car-less, massively out of pocket and stressed. Please can you offer any advice on how best to proceed because I’ve never been in this situation before.

Sophie Ganderton

What Car? says...

You are legally entitled to a full refund in the first 30 days under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and there is no obligation for you to let the dealer try to fix the car unless you've owned it for more than 30 days.

We'd recommend that you put it to them in writing that you're rejecting the car and require a full refund within 14 days as per your legal rights, and give them back the keys and paperwork at this time too. 

Unfortunately some dealers may dispute your right to reject, and if this does happen and the situation cannot be resolved, we'd advise you to make a formal complaint to the Motor Ombudsman, which operates an arbitration service to settle disputes between consumers and dealers signed up its codes of conduct. At that point, we'd also recommend reporting the dealership to your local Trading Standards office; they should investigate if they're not abiding by the law. 

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Best family cars 

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10. Kia Ceed

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There are more practical options, but Kia's family hatchback impresses with a class-leading warranty, a well-sized boot and the fact that entry-level versions represent good value for money. Stick with the 1.0-litre petrol engine and '2' trim and you'll enjoy the sweet spot in the Ceed range.


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