What are my rights with a faulty used car? 

A reader is being denied the right to reject a faulty car. What are her rights?...

Independent garages beat franchised dealers in satisfaction survey

I bought a used car on 7 March this year, two weeks before lockdown. Having had nothing but problems with it, I told the dealer I wanted a refund. However, the dealer said that because the car wasn't returned within 30 days of me buying it, I’m not entitled to my money back and that I should let it fix the car instead. 

I wasn’t able to take the car back within 30 days because of the coronavirus lockdown, so I think the 30-day rule should still apply. 

I did take it back as soon as the dealer opened on 2 June with a list of all the faults, and I was told the problems would be fixed. The dealer had the car for a week and said it had sorted out all the problems. However, I am still having problems with the car, but the dealer is refusing to give me a refund. 

What should I do next? I am a support worker and need a reliable car. 

Andrea Saunders

What Car? says…

You do have the right to reject a faulty car and get a full refund in the first 30 days after purchasing it under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and it seems very unfair that the dealer isn't taking the Covid-19 lockdown into consideration in its response. 

Although the dealer has attempted to repair the car, if it's still faulty, you are entitled to reject it. You only need to give the dealer one attempt at fixing it, which you’ve done. 

Although we think you ought to get a full refund, the law says that after 30 days the dealer is entitled to deduct a reasonable amount for the mileage and wear you’ve put on the car. This is likely to be minimal, because we’ve all been driving far less than usual during the lockdown. To reject the car, you need to state in writing that you're rejecting it and why and give the car, keys and documents to the dealer. 

If the dealer doesn’t accept your rejection of the car and it is signed up to the code of conduct run by The Motor Ombudsman, you can make a formal complaint via its website and it will look into the situation and advise whether you’re being treated correctly and fairly or not. This service applies for cars up to six years old.  

If the car is older and was bought on finance, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman instead.

Both of these solutions might mean you are without a car for some time, so it’s also worth discussing with the dealer the option of swapping your car for another one that it has in stock. 

If you want to find out which are the most dependable older cars, you can find out in our What Car? Older Car Reliability Survey feature. We gathered information from more than 18,000 car owners on whether their car had suffered a fault in the previous 12 months and how much it cost to put right.

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Most and least reliable older cars

You can significantly reduce the chances of buying a money-pit used car by choosing a reliable make and model. The best older cars suffer almost no faults at all, even when they’re up to 15 years old, and in some cases issues are resolved for free, even though the cars are out of warranty. In contrast, faults occur in more than half of the least dependable models, with many repair bills exceeding £1500, according to the annual What Car? Reliability Survey, sponsored by MotorEasy. On an older car, those costs could even exceed the car’s value.

Our survey covers the ownership experiences of 18,119 motorists over a 12-month period, spanning 31 makes and 218 models. Here, we’re focusing on cars aged six to 15 years old. Many are the type of car you might be thinking of buying as a second family car or a first car for a new driver, so their dependability is a prime concern.

Help us get data on more cars by completing the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey

City cars 

Most reliable Peugeot 107 (2005-2014)

Reliability rating 97.8%

Peugeot 107

What went wrong? Bodywork 6% Brakes 6%

Age is no barrier to being dependable, as Peugeot’s 107 demonstrates; it dates back to 2005 and went off sale six years ago, yet it has a superb reliability record. Only 12% of cars had a problem, and the only areas concerned were the bodywork and brakes. All cars were fixed the same day, with no bills exceeding £100.

Owner comment: “Cheap to own, fun to drive and ridiculously reliable, plus parts are cheap” 

See our new car deals on the Peugeot 108  >>

Fiat Panda (2012 on)

Reliability rating 96.0%

The latest Fiat Panda is proving pretty sturdy so far, with only 8% of cars suffering a fault. Repair bills ranged from £100 to £200 and the battery was the only afflicted area. The same can’t be said for the previous-generation model (see below). 

Save money on a Fiat Panda with new car deals  >>

Skoda Citigo (2012 on)

Reliability rating 92.8%

The Skoda Citigo fares better than its stablemate, the Volkswagen Up, for reliability, although the Up isn’t far behind, in fourth place with 90%. Owners told us that 16% of Citigos had an issue, with suspension being the most common problem, followed by the gearbox/clutch and non-engine electrics. All cars remained driveable and half were fixed under warranty, but some took more than a week to fix and cost up to £750.