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How to complain if you are mis-sold a used car

Posted on October 09, 2017, by Hayley Gaffney

What should you do if you are mis-sold a used car? Hayley Gaffney of Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Disputes Team explains your rights and gives her advice. 

 A car is one of the most expensive things that many of us will ever buy. In 2016, more than 8.2 million used cars were sold in the UK. Buying an older vehicle can save you a fortune and over 78% of households now own a car that is more than three years old. Although it is still much cheaper than opting for a new model, the average price paid for a used car has risen year on year with the current UK average now at £10,000.

At Coodes we are handling a growing number of consumer disputes in relation to the purchase of used cars. So, if you are mis-sold a used car what are your rights and how should you complain?

What are my rights when I am buying a used car?

As with any purchase, when you buy a used car, if it was purchased after 1 October 2015, you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act. The Consumer Rights Act was set up in 2015 so that consumers can buy and businesses can sell to them with confidence.

The impact of the Act is huge in relation to giving consumers the legal right to ask for repairs, replacements or refunds on faulty items. There is a 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. After these 30 days retailers have one opportunity to either repair or replace any goods depending on what you request. If this doesn’t happen you can claim a refund or, if you wish to keep the product, a price reduction of up to 100%.

If the car was bought online from a dealer, your rights are the same as if you buy from a dealer in person.

What can I do to protect myself before I buy a used car?

Before you commit to a sale, you can challenge terms and conditions which you feel are unfair or camouflaged within the small print.

What if I am unhappy with the service?

There are clear rules on what should happen if you receive bad service. The seller will have to put the service right in conjunction with what was agreed with you or they must give some (or all) of your money back.

There is something wrong with the car I have just bought – what can I do?

If there is something mechanically wrong with your used car you may have a legal right to a repair, reimbursement of the cost of a repair, or some (or possibly even all) of your money refunded. However, you will not be entitled to any of this if the problem was fully explained when you purchased the car. You will also not be entitled to a refund or repair if you inspected the car and should have noticed a problem such as a dent or scratch, if you were dissatisfied with the amount you paid for the car or you caused the fault yourself.

I have changed my mind about the car I have just bought – what can I do?

If you have changed your mind about the car and there is nothing wrong with it, other perhaps than something already advised to you prior to purchase, you do not have an automatic right to a refund. It is entirely up to the seller whether they offer you a refund or replacement and it depends on where you bought the car and when you decided you did not want it any more.

If you bought the car online, under the Distance Selling Regulations, you can cancel your order within seven working days and get a full refund within 30 days. It’s the same if you buy from a dealer using ‘buy it now’ on an auction site. Distance Selling Regulations require that you are given clear information about the product you are buying, including accurate details, delivery arrangements, supplier details and the full price including taxes and charges to cover extras such as delivery. You should also get written information about how to cancel your contract and a postal address.

What if I buy a used car from a private seller, instead of a garage?

Unfortunately, when buying a car from a private seller, it really is a case of ‘buyer beware’. It is up to you (or someone on your behalf) to inspect the car and ask the right questions before buying it.

The terms covering such a sale are that the seller must have the right to sell the car, the vehicle should accurately match the description given by the seller and the car must be roadworthy if advertised as such. If you feel you were mis-sold a used car from a private seller, you can try to take your case to the Small Claims Court. You would have to prove that the seller knew about a fault before selling the car to you but chose to withhold the information.

If you buy online from a private seller, including through online auction sites, you have the same rights as buying face-to-face from a private seller.

Can I sue a garage or dealer for mis-selling me a used car?

Consumer disputes can be expensive to resolve if the seller fails to engage properly in discussing the matter with you. Seeking legal advice as to your rights should be your last port of call. Especially with items valued less than £10,000.00 it is always best to try to resolve the matter yourself in an amicable way directly with the seller. However, if you have made a purchase of more than £10,000 and attempts to resolve the matter have failed then seeking legal advice is the next step. Speak to a lawyer who specialises in Disputes to find out how they can help you.

For advice on any of these issues, contact Hayley Gaffney in the Personal Disputes Team at Coodes Solicitors on 01726 874 700 or