Can I get a refund for my faulty used car?

15 February 2016

If the used car you purchase turns out to be faulty, you should seek legal advice and assistance from one of our expert lawyers at Higgins Hollywood Deazley as soon as possible.

Your consumer rights and options depend on various factors including:-

1. Who you purchased the car from;
2. How long you have owned the car;
3. The nature and seriousness of the defect with the car;
4. What you were told about the car before purchasing it.

Buying a used car from a dealer

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 provides that where a seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied term that the goods supplied are of satisfactory quality. Therefore, if you have purchased a used car from a dealer you will be protected by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which provides that goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

The term "satisfactory quality" is not clearly defined. The following factors can be taken into account when assessing if your used car is of "satisfactory quality":-

1. Any description, for example in a brochure or discussions with the dealer;
2. Any sample of a car you were shown;
3. Price;
4. Fitness for all purposes, for example to get you from A to B safely;
5. Appearance and finish;
6. Free from minor defects;
7. Safety;
8. Durability.

However, the expectation of "satisfactory quality" does not apply in the following circumstances:-

1. If the car's fault was specifically drawn to your attention before the purchase, you may not be able to complain. However, you may still be able to ask the dealer to do something if they did not inform you of the full extent of the defect.
2. If you inspected the car before the purchase. The dealer might argue that you should have noticed the fault when you inspected the car. If the fault was obvious, such as rusty bodywork or dents, and you did inspect the car, it is unlikely you can ask the dealer to sort the problem after the purchase. However if the fault is something less obvious, like an engine problem or worn out clutch, you should point out that you examined the car as a layperson. If you did not examine the car yourself, you should say so.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 gives you the right to rescind the contract. Customers should return the faulty used car to the dealer as soon as possible, where they will be offered a repair, replacement or refund, partial or full, depending on the circumstances.

Obtaining a refund will depend on the seriousness of the defect and the period of time after the purchase that you notice the defect.

If the fault is minor or if you do not want a refund, you can ask for the car to be repaired. You can also ask for a replacement car which should be of similar age, mileage and model as the used faulty car.

If you discover the fault within six months of the purchase, the dealer must prove that the car was of satisfactory quality when you bought it. If you discover the fault after six months of the purchase, it is your responsibility to prove that the car was faulty when sold.

Buying a used car from a private seller

Buying from a private individual is a riskier option as your legal options are limited. The principle of "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware" applies in this situation. There is no legal right that the used car is of satisfactory quality or fit for its purpose. However there is a legal requirement that the used car is "as described". This means that the seller must accurately describe the used car and answer all questions truthfully.

In all cases, you should seek legal advice and assistance early from Higgins Hollywood Deazley, so that we may take full advantage of your consumer rights in order to resolve your problem as efficiently and effectively as possible.



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