Your legal rights: Buying a used car

Published: 06/11/2014

With around 6 million second hand cars sold every years it’s safe to say used cars are big business. So if you’re buying a used car it’s essential you know your legal rights in case you end up with a bit of a banger.

Your rights vary on where you buy from; you are more protected buying from a dealership than a private seller. This article will help you understand the standards and requirements a car dealer must meet as well as your responsibilities when buying from a private seller.

Buying from a car dealership

When you buy a used car from a car deal you are protected under the Sale of Goods Act. This means the item you buy must be:

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

If the car fails to meet these basic requirements the dealer is legally obliged to rectify the problem. They are also liable for any faults with the vehicle present at the time of sale even if they only become apparent at a later date.

The dealer must also be assured that the vehicle in question meets your needs so, if you have a particular purpose, make sure you inform them of this and highlight what elements and functions are important to you.

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations dealers are prohibited from:

  • Giving false information e.g. misrepresenting the vehicle’s history
  • Giving insufficient information e.g. failing to provide the results of any checks
  • Acting aggressively e.g. placing undue pressure
  • Failing to act in accordance with reasonable expectations of what’s acceptable
  • Banning outright of 31 specific practices. This includes:
  • Falsely claiming to be a signatory to a Code of Practice
  • Falsely claiming to be approved, endorsed or authorised by a public or private body
  • Falsely stating that vehicle is only available for a limited time (i.e. trying to force an immediate sale)

Top four questions to ask when buying a used car

Top four questions to ask when buying a used car

Buying from a private seller

If you are buying a used privately you don’t have the same legal protection as you do when buying from a car dealership. The only rules a private seller must adhere are:

  • They must have the right to sell the car
  • The description give must match the vehicle on sale
  • The car must be roadworthy. If the latest MOT was done a few months ago there is no guarantee the car is currently road worthy.

This means it is up to you to ask the right questions and get the right checks done before committing to the sale. This could include having a professional and independent mechanic look at it. You will also need to get the vehicle history to ensure there is nothing untoward about it.

The types of checks you may wish to undertake are:

  • An MOT certificate check
  • A service history check
  • A registration document check
  • A write off check
  • A finance check
  • A private history check
  • Car recalled check
  • An engineer check.

You should also test drive any car you are thinking about buying.

Show All Articles