Rights against car dealers


Buying a car – your rights

Just as with any goods you have legal rights if you buy a vehicle and it turns out to be faulty.

 If you buy from a car trader (including online car dealers) the vehicle must be:

  • of reasonable quality e.g. a new car should not have a chipped windscreen
  • fit for purpose e.g. if you ask for a van that can carry a certain weight it must be able to
  • as described e.g. the car should match its description given verbally or in an advert

 If these rights are broken you are entitled to a:

  • repair; or
  • replacement; or
  • a refund

If you buy a car from a dealer on-line or over the telephone you also have the right to a 7 day ‘cooling off’ period after the car has been delivered to cancel your order for any reason and get your money back.

 If you buy a car from a private seller or at a car auction for dealers, you have less protection. The car only has to:

  • correspond with the description given by the seller
  • be lawfully theirs to sell i.e. not stolen or owned by a finance company

If the car you buy has a disclaimer

Sometimes car dealers try to limit your rights with disclaimers such as ‘sold as seen’, ‘trade sale only’ or ‘no refund’. This is unlawful and you can report any dealer that does this to Consumer Direct, the government funded consumer advice service.

Car dealers who say they are private sellers

Some car traders pretend they are private sellers to get rid of faulty cars. Tell tale signs that a private seller may be a trade dealer include:

  • the last registered keeper is not the seller
  • the same phone number appears in several car adverts
  • cars are advertised for sale in car parks or other public spaces

If you buy a faulty car from a private seller who turns out to be a car dealer, you would have the right to a repair, replacement or refund.

Second-hand car auctions

Sellers at auctions are permitted to limit your rights by such notices so the responsibility for checking a car at auction is yours.

 Returning a faulty car to a trader

Contact the trader immediately. What the trader will offer you will depend on:

  • how long you’ve had the car before complaining – too long is waives the right
  • how serious the problem is
  • whether the fault happens again and again (is recurring)
  • the cost of carrying out repairs or replacing the car

The law here is complex and you may need to get advice about whether the trader should offer to repair, replace or refund the car.

 To make a complaint first contact:

  • the seller if you bought the car from a car trader
  • the finance company if you paid for the car using  credit