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Your rights when buying a used car from a dealer

  Thursday, 26 May 2022

Just because you didn’t buy your car new, doesn’t mean you don’t have rights if something goes wrong. You are protected by certain legislation. This guide will help you to know which legislation is on your side if you encounter problems with a vehicle you bought second-hand from a dealership.

Be aware that your consumer rights can vary in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. This guide covers your consumer rights in England, with notes on any variations between the other countries in the UK.

What laws are there about buying a used vehicle?

Even though you are buying a vehicle second-hand, buying from a dealership means you have some statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

This Act states the car must be ‘of a satisfactory quality’, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘as described’. When you buy a used car the satisfactory quality part means you must take details like the vehicle’s history and mileage into account.

Within 30 days of you buying the vehicle, you have a short-term legal right to return it for a full refund. After this 30-day period, not only do you no longer have that right, but you’ll also only be able to request a repair, replacement, or a partial refund.

Legally you can return the vehicle up to six years after you bought it. In Scotland, it’s five years. However, keep in mind that it is far more difficult to prove a problem with that amount of time as normal wear and tear could be the cause.

What if the used car I buy is broken?

So, you have made your purchase of a vehicle from a dealer, but there is something wrong with it. Take these steps:

  • Contact the dealer as soon as you notice the problem. Try to do this in person with the vehicle with you to help clarify the issue.
  • Keep discussions about the issue amicable.
  • Keep a record of all exchanges and make sure any verbal agreements are followed up in writing.
  • If the dealer offers to fix the problem, make sure you outline any costs involved.

As long as a concerted effort has been made to get the issue resolved with the dealer, you can still reject the vehicle if you cannot work out a satisfactory solution to the problem. You must present your reasons in writing, within six months of purchasing the vehicle, to the dealership.

If the dealer refuses to accept your rejection, contact the customer relations department of its manufacturer straight away or look for details on its website for how to complain to the correct body.

Does it matter how I paid for my used car?

Although there isn’t a set rule to enforce how you pay for your second-hand vehicle, it’s helpful to know the protective measures attached to particular ways of paying.

Paying using finance or hire purchase

With hire purchase, it is the finance provider, rather than the dealer, who is legally responsible if there are problems with the car. You have protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The vehicle you buy should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and sold to you as described.

Paying using a credit card

If you paid for all or part of the cost of the vehicle by credit card, the card company and the trader may be jointly responsible for compensating you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Paying cash using a debit card

Using a debit card means you will not be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, but you may be able to claim a refund from your debit card provider. This is through a scheme called ‘chargeback’. Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and American Express are among the companies signed up to the scheme.

What if I bought from a private seller?

Buying privately is one of the riskiest ways of buying a car and isn’t recommended over buying from a reputable dealer. If something goes wrong with it, you don’t have as much legal protection.

As with buying from a dealer, the car must match the seller’s description, be roadworthy, and the seller must have the legal right to sell it to you. This means they must have the VC5 document in the correct name and address.

You are responsible for making sure the car is “of satisfactory quality’’ and “fit for purpose” before you buy it. You’ll need to do your research and look out for any potential issues. We have a helpful guide to buying a used car for you to read before you purchase anything.

ASM can help you find the best used car

This guide should help you if you have problems with your used car. We have plenty of other guides to help you on our blog.

Are you already on the hunt for your next car? ASM Auto Recycling has consistently healthy stock of repairable vehicles, offering regular online auctions supported by our site in Thame, Oxfordshire. For help buying used cars at online auctions, read our full guide.

As an Authorised Approved Treatment Facility, we can also take unwanted used cars to be scrapped, recycled, and resold where possible. Contact us today to discuss your needs.

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