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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought my wife a 5month old corsa,last year.
Scince I had the car it has had
2xwheel bearings
1x gearbox,yes GEARBOX
1x reversing switch
door seals all round

I bought the car from a main dealer,all the car was done under the 3 year warrenty

To make things worse the front seat is noisy when going over bumps

What are my rights,can i change the car?

882 Posts
The Law
When you buy goods from a trader, you enter into a legally binding contract governed by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. The law gives buyer and seller rights and responsibilities and applies to the sale of used cars in the same way as to other goods. When you buy from a trader, you have the right to expect the car to be:

of satisfactory quality;
fit for its purpose, including any particular purpose made known, and
as described.
The law defines goods as being of ‘satisfactory quality’ if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory – taking the description of the goods into account, the price (if relevant) and all other relevant circumstances. So, when you have bought a used car, you must consider its age, the price you paid, the description which was applied to it and anything else which is relevant when deciding whether it is of satisfactory quality. Your expectations should be different when you are buying a low mileage, two-year-old car than when you are buying a high mileage, ten-year-old one, for example. However, it must still be:

fit to be used on the road;
in a condition which reflects its age and price, and
reasonably reliable.
When you buy as a consumer from a motor trader, your legal rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 cannot be taken away or reduced. An example of an attempt to do so is a notice such as ‘sold as seen’. Such phrases are meaningless and cannot alter your rights. If you see a sign of this type, report it to Consumer Direct on 08454 040506. A warranty or guarantee can only be given in addition to your legal rights, not instead of them. You can take legal action under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 for up to six years after the date of the contract, but it is unrealistic to consider legal action for defects on used cars – especially older vehicles – once you have had them in use for a reasonable length of time. Each case is different, so it is best to take advice before you decide what to do.

Private sales
There are some situations where your legal rights will be reduced.

The general rule is ‘let the buyer beware’ when you buy from a private individual. It is up to you to find out whether the car is of satisfactory quality, to make your own checks on what you are told and to take responsibility for your choice, as the seller is not liable for the satisfactory quality of the vehicle. You are still entitled, however, to expect the car to be ‘as described’. If the advertisement says ‘2000 Ford Focus’ or ‘excellent condition’ then it should be exactly that. It is important to remember that it may be much more difficult for you to enforce your rights against a private individual.

Whether you buy privately or from a motor trader, you are entitled to expect the car to be capable of passing an MOT test when you buy it, unless you and the seller clearly agree it is to be sold as scrap.

You are also entitled to expect the seller to have ‘good title’ to the car. In other words, to be the owner or authorised by the owner to sell it. If you buy a car later found to be stolen, you have no legal right to keep it. You will have to try and get your money back from the seller.

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 gives ‘good title’ to the innocent private purchaser of a car which later turns out to be subject to a claim by a finance company because of a previous, unpaid hire-purchase agreement. This means that the finance company is not entitled to repossess the car from you. Remember, this does not apply to cars which have been stolen, or cars that were subject to a lease or hire agreement.

It is worth noting that some motor traders pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal obligations to consumers. If you come across a situation like this, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

When you buy from a car auction, it is not considered to be a consumer sale, so your consumer rights can be, and usually are, greatly reduced. You will be bound by the auction’s written terms and conditions, which must be available to you before you buy. They may be posted on the wall, issued in a booklet or on other paperwork.

It is important to note that if you buy a car on hire-purchase, you have the protection of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the incorporated terms of the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973. The car should still be of satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose and as described but it is the finance company, as owner of the car, which is legally responsible to you as hirer. The normal rules on ‘acceptance’ i.e. loss of right to reject the car and seek refund, do not apply to hire-purchase or conditional sale agreements and, therefore, you may only lose your right to reject if you are aware of problems with the car but continue to use it.

Action to take
If you have bought a car from a trader, which turns out to be faulty or which you think has been misdescribed, you need to take action straight away.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that, if you can show the goods to be faulty, not fit for their purpose or misdescribed, you have, for a short time after purchase, a right to reject them and get a refund of the purchase price. Therefore, if you have only had the car for a very short time, have only driven a few miles and you discover a major problem, you are probably entitled to reject it and get your money back plus the return of a ‘traded in’ car, if there was one, or its value if it has been disposed of.

If you decide to reject the car, stop using it at once, contact the trader to discuss the matter and make it clear that you wish to reject. Follow up this approach with a short letter explaining the nature of the complaint and confirming that you wish to reject and get your money back. Try to make an appointment to discuss the matter with someone responsible at the garage but, remember, if you wish to reject, it is important that you put it in writing as soon as possible. You can accept a repair for a major fault but this won’t stop you claiming a refund if the repair turns out to be unsatisfactory. It is best to make your position clear before any repair is attempted.

You should bear in mind that the law only allows consumers a short time to reject goods before, in the legal sense, they have ‘accepted’ them. This means that you have had the goods long enough to establish that they are satisfactory or that you have told the trader that you have accepted them. Only a court would be able to make a decision on this point but would take all relevant factors into account.

If the fault was present when you bought the car, you do have other remedies, even if you have left it too late to get a refund. You are entitled to seek a repair or replacement. These have to be carried out within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to you. If replacement or repair is not possible, then the law allows for the options of full or partial refund. Each case would be judged on its own merits.

The onus is normally on you rather than the trader to prove a claim, i.e. that the car is defective in some way. However, the law now states that if you are claiming replacement, repair, full or partial refund within the first six months of ownership, the onus is on the trader to prove that the goods were acceptable when they were sold. This is called the ‘reversed burden of proof’.

After six months, it is up to you to provide evidence to support your claim that the car was defective when it was sold, so you may need an independent report. If you need to pay for a report, which can be used in court, try to get the trader to agree beforehand that the report can be used as a basis for negotiations. Write to the trader to suggest this, so that you can show you have tried, but you should not let failure of the trader to agree or respond prevent you from getting an expert report when you need one.

Some points to note about accepting a repair:

If the repair will take a long time, you may also be able to claim compensation. For example, you may be able to claim for the cost of hiring a car or the trader may, of course, offer a loan car.
If the repair adds to the value of the car, the trader could have a case for asking you to make a contribution.
You may choose to use your rights under any warranty you were given with the car but, if you do, you must comply with all the terms of the warranty. Remember that you do not have to rely on the warranty, you can use your legal rights instead.
When you go to the garage to discuss your complaint, you may see the salesperson first. Take all the paperwork and be prepared to be patient, clear and firm and take someone with you if possible. You may have to go through the complaint several times and you may need to speak to someone more senior if the matter cannot be resolved. Make it clear which of the remedies described above you are seeking. If you are entitled to a refund and this is what you want, be persistent. However, most car faults can be repaired and, in cases of genuine faults, the trader is likely to offer repair. Try to get specific details as to what the diagnosis is and what it to be done. Get this in writing if you can.

If you and the trader cannot reach an agreement as to the solution to the problem, you should write letters to the trader and finance company, if there is one, keep a copy for yourself and send a copy to the head office. It is usually best to send letters by recorded delivery.

If the repair fails to rectify the fault, inform the relevant person and, again, try to agree an acceptable course of action. This is where a second opinion or a good technical report is useful, so that you are in a stronger legal position. Keep the finance company involved, if there is one. If the trader offers something but it is not what you want, don’t be rushed into a decision. Take time to think about the offer – you can accept or negotiate for a better offer. Only you can decide what to do.

If you have to have repairs carried out elsewhere, you should make sure the trader knows you are going to do so beforehand to give him an opportunity to resolve the matter. You should ask the repairer to write you a report on what was wrong with the car, providing full written details of the work carried out and the cost. It is best to keep all defective parts which have been replaced. You can then sue the trader/finance company for the cost of repair, secure in the knowledge that you have proof of what was done and how much it cost. You may need to prove that, on the balance of probabilities, you were sold a car which was not of ‘satisfactory quality’.

If negotiations fail, you could consider using an alternative dispute resolution scheme. Check to see if the trader is a member of a trade association which has such a scheme.

As a last resort, you may need to consider taking court action. You should write and notify the trader and finance company, if there is one, of your intentions. Most claims up to £5000 can be settled using the small claims procedure in the County Court and you can obtain further information from your local County Court or via the HM Courts Service website.

Remember, used cars may have some faults, but they should not be excessive. Fair wear and tear is not considered to be a fault.

Points to note:
If you are buying from a trader, look to see if there is a disclaimer stating that the mileage is not guaranteed and so cannot be relied on. It should be ‘bold, precise and compelling’ and effectively brought to your attention. If there is no disclaimer, it could be argued that the trader is stating that the mileage is correct and you can rely on it. It then becomes part of the contract and of the description of the vehicle. It can be difficult to prove a car has been ‘clocked’, so the golden rule is to walk away if you are not satisfied. There are organisations which will provide you with information on a car for a fee – check online for details. If you have bought a car which you believe has been clocked, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

A MOT certificate simply confirms that the car passed the test on the day it was submitted. It only covers the specific tests required and does not provide an absolute guarantee of the general quality of the car. If you have a problem with an MOT, contact the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which enforces the law relating to these tests.

Insurance claims, accident and repair records
There is no law requiring traders to inform purchasers that cars have been subject to insurance claims or have been ‘written off’ by insurance companies. Traders have no legal obligation to tell purchasers about past repair work. If you ask the trader about these matters, he must answer truthfully or tell you if he doesn’t know.

For further information, visit the Consumer Direct website or phone 08454 040506.

Last Reviewed/Updated: November 2010

10,253 Posts
Cut your losses and sell it on while it's all okay, it might go wrong in the future but there again it could be fine for years. I personally wouldn't want all the hassle, and when you finally sell there won't be anything to declare about the car which would be the case if you were to litigate and were unsuccessful. ''let sleeping dogs lie''..
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