Consumer Rights surrounding a faulty car

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Health Assured team

12 July 2023

Before purchasing a car, buyers should consider where they intend to buy a car from as there are various levels of protection that will differ.

Buying a car from a regulated seller such as a car dealership will result in the buyer getting protection from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA’15). Whereas, buying from a private seller even if the car they buy was located on an advert there are limited rights. In this case a common phrase known as “buyer beware” must be applied and it is expected that extra care should be taken when buying anything to ensure it is of satisfactory quality as the seller will be under no obligation to offer a refund.

Where a vehicle is purchased through a trade seller the CRA ’15 requires that the vehicle match its description and ensuring it is fit for purpose as well as not falsely “hook” a buyer into getting a car they wouldn’t have done so had they known there was a problem with it.

The consumer laws do not stop after you acquire the car. CRA ’15 dictates the car sold must be of satisfactory quality (mileage/age) and fit for purpose (safe) as well as matching the description the buyer relied upon. Should a fault be found on the car your right to make a claim is dependant on the length of time you have had ownership of the vehicle.

If there is a fault with the car within 30 days of owning the vehicle, then you have a ‘right to reject’ the vehicle and claim a full refund from the car dealership. You do also have the right to ask for a repair or replacement. You would have to proof the fault with the vehicle existed at the time the vehicle was purchased and is not usual wear and tear.

If a fault develops with the vehicle within 6 months of purchase, you are legally entitled to a repair or replacement from the seller if the seller cannot prove the vehicle was not faulty when they sold it to you. Any longer than 6 months will result in the buyer having to prove there was a fault on the car when they bought it to entitle them for a repair at the seller’s expense.

Should a first attempt to repair the vehicle fail, the buyer has the right to insist on a further repair or exercise their rights under CRA ’15 to ensure that they are put in the position they would have been had they been given a satisfactory vehicle (the original vehicle fully faultless or like-for-like equivalent) or returned to the position before they bought the vehicle (a full refund). To enforce their rights, buyers should warn non-compliant sellers of registering escalated complaints with the Motoring Ombudsman or instructing a local civil mediator to intervene as to avoid utilising litigation through the courts.

It is vital all correspondence such as verbal agreements, emails, and invoices etc are recorded in case the matter ever needs to escalate to Court. If no satisfactory resolution can be reached with the car dealership, then you may need to consider commencing legal proceeding via the Small Claims Court if the value of the claim is under £10,000 and the Fast Track Claim process for any claims from £10,000 to a maximum of £25,000. Due to the complexity of Fast Tracks claims you may require legal representation. You have six years from the date of purchase to act via Court for breach of the Consumer Rights Act.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 offers some powerful tools to buyers of vehicles to ensure they are protected from faulty products. Whilst buyers should remain vigilant when purchasing cars, they can rest assured that should there be issues with the sold vehicle, there is sufficient protection under law.

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