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What to do if you buy a faulty used car

For many, buying a used car is a preferred approach when it comes to changing vehicles. And whilst this is a popular and oftentimes safe option, there are sometimes those unfortunate cases when a recently brought car turns out to be faulty or damaged. So, we’re here to tell you what to do when this happens…

What is a ‘faulty’ car?

When we say ‘faulty’, you need to understand what this means, i.e. it’s breaking down, the brakes are gone or it has been clocked. In these circumstances, you may have legal rights to receive a repair, reimbursement for repair costs, or a portion or total amount of your money back.

However, you will not be entitled to help if…

– You were informed of these faults prior to purchase
– There were visible problems that you could have seen, such as dents
– The fault was caused by you
– You’re unhappy with how much you paid for the car
Basically, as a consumer your rights are different if you’ve changed your mind about the car.

What are your rights?

The rights you have depend on where you purchased your faulty car from. For example, you have less protection when you buy privately or at auction compared to buying from a dealer…so it’s worth considering this before you make a purchase.

If you’re ever in the unfortunate position of buying a faulty used car, the best thing you can do is arm yourself by knowing your rights…

The Consumer Rights Act, 2015

This covers the purchase of goods, digital content and services including new and used cars from official dealers. The act states that vehicles must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described at the point of sale. Click here for a full breakdown of what each of these descriptions include.

The dealer must have the right to sell the vehicle and is liable for any faults that were present at the time of sale, even if these only become known later on.

After 30 days…

If a fault in your car appears after 30 days but before 6 months you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. The law states that the fault was present when you purchased unless the seller can prove otherwise. During this period, unless you have agreed otherwise, the dealer has only one opportunity to repair (or replace) your vehicle – after which, if they fail to repair it, you are entitled to a refund.

After 6 months…

Things get a little tricky after this point. When a fault occurs after six months it is on you to prove this happened at the time of delivery in order to request a claim for repair or replacement. For more information on your consumer rights, click here. As a guideline, when you approach a dealer to request repairs, a replacement or return of your faulty vehicle, you should say something to the effect of…

“Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, this car should be of a satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. My rights have been breached because the car you sold me is faulty. I would like you to put this right by giving me a refund/repairing the car at your cost.”

As luck would have it, there’s also a template reference letter you can follow when raising a complaint about faults with your vehicle. You can find this here.

To sum up

Knowing your rights is the key to making sure they are not ignored. If a seller/dealer has wrongfully concealed faults with your car at the time of sale, they are legally responsible for correcting the problem.

The most important thing is to contact the dealer as soon as you notice the problem.


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WeWantAnyCar.com is an online car buying service which offers free car valuation and a quick, simple way to sell your car. We’ve been trading since 2010 and have expanded since to over 70 branches across the UK.
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