Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, The Trading Standards Institute and Citizens Advice Bureau, are steering local residents in the right direction this November when it comes to buying a used car.
The drive is part of a month-long campaign, launched on November 4, at the start of National Consumer Week. The campaign is urging people buying a used car to ‘check it not regret it’ by assessing whether it is safe, legal and what it seems.
Trading Standards provides advice on what to look for when buying a used car and likely recourse in the event of a problem with the vehicle.
* Check the validity of the MOT on VOSA’s website (www.gov.uk/check-mot-status) and check the car’s details are correct on the MOT certificate. If it states there were any advisory issues, make sure you see the details so that you know what work is likely to be needed before the next MOT.
* Check the VOSA website to see if the vehicle has been subject to a manufacturers recall.
* Check the vehicle’s service history. How often has it been serviced, and has it been serviced in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations?
* Carry out an HPI (www.hpi.co.uk) check to make sure there is no outstanding finance on the car that could lead to it being repossessed by the finance company. An HPI check will also tell you if the car has been written off or if it is stolen.
* In terms of physically checking the car, carry out a walk around check and test drive the car if insured to do so. If you are not mechanically minded we would also strongly recommend you have the car checked by an engineer.
More advice can be found on the Citizens Advice website (www.adviceguide.org.uk/consumer).
If you buy from a private seller, your rights are limited if you find a fault with the car after buying it. The seller must have the right to sell the car and the car must be ‘as described’, but other than that you have no recourse if things go wrong with it.
By comparison, if you purchase the car from a trader, again they must have title to the car and it must be ‘as described’ but in addition it must be of satisfactory quality, taking into account its age, mileage, condition etc.
For instance, it would be reasonable to expect a brand new car to be free from wear and tear issues when you buy it. However if you were to buy a ten year old car with a mileage of over 100,000 then naturally there will be wear and tear on the vehicle.
If faults arise due to wear and tear, it is unlikely you will have any recourse against the trader. Where a fault occurs which is not due to wear and tear, you may be able to seek a repair by the trader in the first instance.
The rights explained above are in addition to any rights you may have under a warranty.
Councillor Mathew Shuter, County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise, said: “The most frequent type of consumer complaint received by our Trading Standards Service relates to the purchase of secondhand cars. They are one of the most expensive purchases we make in our lifetimes and many of us are dependent on them for going about our daily lives. As a result, buying a secondhand car can be a stressful process. It is hoped that this campaign will go some way to increasing awareness about what to look for when buying one and on your rights when it comes to such purchases.”
You can find more information about your rights when you buy a secondhand car on the Citizens Advice website (www.adviceguide.org.uk/consumer). If you need advice on any of the above, or any other consumer issue, please contact Trading Standard’s advice partner, the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, on 0845 4040506.