Year after year, used cars are the number one cause of customer complaints to the Consumer Advisory Service. These particularly involve requests for information on whether faults in the car are subject to the vendor’s statutory liability for defects, and who is responsible for repair costs. In April, the Consumer Advisory Service is issuing consumer protection guidance in relation to used car purchases.
Car bought from a private individual or a business
When a used car is bought from a business, the buyer’s rights are protected under the Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act does not apply to a car sale between two private individuals.
Car must conform with the information provided by the vendor
A car has a defect for which the vendor business is liable, if the car does not conform with the information provided by the vendor. The vendor is liable for any defects in the car at the time of purchase, or which can be considered unexpected based on the information provided about the vehicle. This is the case, for example, if a part breaks considerably before the end of its normal operational life and this is not due to improper use or neglect of maintenance by the consumer. Liability for a defect is always defined on a case-by-case basis. In practice, repair costs are often shared between the vendor and the buyer.
The vendor is not responsible for normal wear and tear
Faults due to use and natural wear and tear may be present in a used car, for which the vendor cannot be held liable. Buyers should be prepared for the costs of repairing such defects.
Examine the car's papers carefully – the repair log is relevant
During the sale of a car, it is worth examining the car's papers, including the repair log, carefully. After the sale, the car owner is responsible for taking care of his or her car in the appropriate manner. If a fault appears in the car later, and you have not serviced the car in accordance with the servicing programme, you may be considered to have played a role in the occurrence of the fault.
14-day right of withdrawal in distance selling
Both car dealers and private individuals sell used cars over the internet. When you buy such a car from a company, you have a 14 day right of withdrawal. The right of withdrawal also applies to car auctions conducted only on the internet and to door-to-door selling, where the sale is made outside the business's premises.
The Consumer Advisory Service guides and investigates, Complaint Assistant provides instructions on making a complaint
Complaints about defects must always be presented first to the vendor, but the Consumer Advisory Service may be contacted in the case of a dispute. You can use Complaint Assistant to make a written complaint to a vendor. If a disagreement cannot be resolved through negotiations between the parties, the matter may be referred for settlement to the Consumer Disputes Board.
Defects in cars