Buying From Car Dealers

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Without doubt, the main route for cars sold in the UK. The UK car dealer gets a bad rap, but is it deserved? Are there things you need to know before buying your car from a dealer?

Ever used car dealers before? Not only for new cars, second hand cars come in the main from forecourts up and down the UK. Whether they are large dealerships for the premium brands or 'Honest John's' garage with a couple of 5 year old motors, there are things you need to know about before you think about buying.

Do you know your rights?

The Sale of Goods Acts - 1979

Most items that you buy are covered by the Sale of Goods Act (SGA) 1979 (as amended). This statute is in place to protect your rights as a consumer when you are buying anything from a car to clothes. The law states that when buying a car from a dealer, you should expect it to be :

  • Fit for the purpose
  • As described
  • Of satisfactory quality

Fit for the purpose

Section 14(3) of the SGA states that the car must be fit for any normal purpose. If you tell the dealer that you need the vehicle for a specific purpose, then it must also be fit for that.

As Described

You have the right to know the full history of the car along with its specification. For example, if you are informed that the car has only had one careful owner, then the dealer would be in the wrong if you later discover that the car was previously owned by several reckless drivers.

Of Satisfactory Quality

Section 14(2) of the SGA states that any car sold must meet reasonable standards. It must not have any defects, other than those that are deliberately brought to the customer's attention before the sale or are discovered before the sale takes place. It is worth remembering that a second-hand car will inevitably have a certain amount of wear and tear, so the definition of 'satisfactory' will be slightly different to that of a brand new car.

Can I get My Money Back?

If you buy a car and then discover that it does not comply with the terms stated above, you have the right to ask for your money back. You should immediately inform the dealer that you are rejecting the car and you should stop using it. The dealer may offer to refund some of the cost of the car or may agree to replace or repair it. If you are happy for the car to be repaired, demand that the dealer provides you with a hire car or pays your day-to-day travel expenses while you wait for your own car to be returned to you.

If you have told the dealer or finance company (if you have a car loan) that you are not satisfied with the car and they refuse to deal with your complaint, then it is your responsibility to prove that you have a valid case. You will have to meet the cost of an independent assessment of the car before you can sue.

When you have a problem with a brand new car it is probable that your claim for a refund will be too high to be dealt with in the small claims court. Instead, you may have to pay for legal representation. As this can be an intimidating and costly process, you should think carefully before rejecting a car that you have just bought. If the dealer has offered to repair any faults, it may be in your best interest to accept this.

There are a few things that you can do to take the stress out of buying a car. Try to choose a reputable dealer who offers a no-quibbles exchange policy. Make sure that the dealer belongs to a recognised trade association that complied with a code of practice supported by the Office of Fair Trading.

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Further Reading

  • Buying A Car Privately

    To save money, buying a car privately instead of using car dealers usually works out cheaper. Read our consumer guides for more ideas.
  • Buying At Car Auctions

    Thought about buying at car auctions? Save money and grab yourself a bargain - if you know what to look for and how to bid right!
  • Finding Car Dealers Online

    Why not find your next car by searching online with car dealers throughout the UK? Find the car of your dreams easily and efficiently.
  • How To Bargain With A Car Dealer

    Bargain with a car dealer can seem a daunting process as they are trained sales people - find out how to bargain with a car dealer in this handy guide
  • Car Fraud Facts

    Read about car fraud in terms of facts & figures and what it means for you if you are buying privately or from a dealer. Simple consumer guides to help you.

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