DETI Press Release "Know your rights when buying a used car"
New figures released today show that in the first six months of 2010, the Trading Standards managed advice service Consumerline received almost 600 complaints about second hand cars bought from dealers, an increase of 13% compared to the same period last year.
Around 3.6million second hand cars are bought in the UK each year, with consumer spending totaling £24billion.
Despite this, an Office of Fair Trading study found that many car-owners ended up fixing unresolved faults that are the dealer's obligation to correct, costing each of them an estimated average of £425. In the same period, the advice service for Great Britain, Consumer Direct, received just over 38,000 complaints about second hand cars.
Since 2008, the Trading Standards Service has prosecuted 11 car dealers for various offences, mainly relating to altered mileage readings. A further 11 dealers have accepted formal cautions in relation to offences relating to the sale of second hand cars. Nineteen cases relating to the sale of second-hand cars are pending.
Stephen Thompson, Consumerline manager said: "Cars are an expensive purchase so before parting with any money people need to know exactly what they are getting and what they can do if things go wrong." "Dealers have a responsibility to sell cars that are of 'satisfactory quality'. This will vary depending on issues including the vehicle?s age and mileage, but as the vast majority of all second hand car faults come to light in the first three months, they will often be the dealer's responsibility to fix."
Although most car dealers are reputable it is important that people buying a used car take the following precautions to steer clear of trouble:
Ask the dealer the right questions such as:
What mechanical history and mileage checks have they done on the car you want to buy?
How many former owners has the car had and is the full service history available?
Has the car been modified from its original specification?
Is the car ex-hire or similar?
Ask for important information and answers to your questions to be put in writing before you buy so you have proof of claims - don't just rely on verbal claims or promises by the seller.
Find out about the dealer's customer complaint procedures and whether they are signed up to a code of practice - if a problem does arise after the sale you need to know who to contact.
Remember that if you buy a car from a private seller or an auction, you may pay less but you will have fewer legal rights than when buying from a dealer.