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Buying a car from a dealer - your rights and everything you need to know

Buying a car from a dealer - your rights and everything you need to know

Whether you’re buying a new car from a dealership or looking for a second-hand bargain, it’s important to know what your rights are, especially if something goes wrong.

Whether you’re buying a new car from a dealership or looking for a second-hand bargain, it’s important to know what your rights are, especially if something goes wrong.

Here’s everything you need to know about buying a car from a dealer, including some tips to help make sure you get the best possible deal.

What are your rights when buying a used car from a dealer?

It’s important to know your rights as a buyer before you enter the showroom - even if you buy brand new, there’s no guarantee that something won’t go wrong the second it’s off the forecourt.

Any car you buy from a dealer - whether a new or used car - is protected by some statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Under the terms of this Act, any car on sale must be:

  • As described - The car must be in the condition listed in the advert and have all the equipment listed. If anything is missing from the original spec, this must be made clear to the buyer.
  • Satisfactory quality - The car should be in the condition you’d reasonably expect it to be, taking into account the car’s age, mileage, and expected wear and tear. For example, you can’t expect an older, high-mileage car to be in as good a condition as a newer, low-mileage model. Even so, the car should be roadworthy and priced according to its age and condition.
  • Fit for purpose - This means you must be able to use the car for the purpose it was originally built or modified for. For example, if you tell the dealer you need a car that’s capable of towing a caravan, they have an obligation to only sell you a car that is fit for that purpose.

Dealers are also bound by the rules on Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which state that sellers must not:

  • Give false or insufficient information on a vehicle
  • Act aggressively or use high-pressure selling tactics
  • Falsely state a vehicle is only available for a limited time to get a quick decision

For more information, go to https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2008/1277/contents/made

Is there a cooling-off period when buying a used car from a dealer in the UK?

Yes, but there are certain rules that apply. If you buy a car without seeing it in person - online, for instance - then you have a 14-day cooling-off period during which time you can return it to the dealer with a full refund. The same rules apply if you buy from an online auction.

If you do decide to cancel within the 14-day cooling-off period, you then have 14 days to return the car. You should then get a full refund within 14 days from when the dealer got the car back.

But this cooling-off period doesn’t apply if you bought the car after seeing it. But you do still have some rights if the car you’re buying is faulty.

If the fault means the car was sold to you not as described, or it’s not of satisfactory quality or not fit for purpose then you are entitled to a repair, replacement or a refund, within 30 days and six months of buying it.

Again though, there are some conditions attached.

  • The fault has to have been present when the car was bought. If the seller can prove otherwise, you might not be eligible for any repair, replacement or refund.
  • If the seller can’t repair or replace the vehicle, you’re entitled to a refund. They’ll only get one opportunity to refund or replace it unless you previously agreed otherwise (it’s always worth checking any small print before you sign an agreement).

If you get a refund, this amount can be adjusted to take into account your use of the vehicle before the fault was reported.

If the fault is found more than six months after you bought the vehicle, then it’s up to you to prove it was a problem when you bought it.

What to do if you have a problem with a car bought from a dealer

If you’re unhappy with a car bought from a dealer, you need to get in touch with them as soon as you notice there’s a problem. If possible, go to see them in person and take the car with you.

If the dealer agrees to fix the car, make sure you get a breakdown of costs in writing, along with any liability you might have for any costs. And keep a record of any conversations you have.

If the dealer can’t fix or replace the car, you can return it and get a full refund. You’ll have six months to explain to the dealer in writing your reasons for wanting to return the car.

If the dealer refuses to give you a refund, you can take your complaint to the motor ombudsman, who might be able to help you resolve any dispute.

Is there a cooling-off period for cars bought using finance?

If you use car finance to buy from a dealer, you should still have the same cooling-off period as if you bought using cash or any other type of credit.

You might also have a cooling-off period on the finance, but this just means you have a certain amount of time to cancel your finance agreement. The sale of the car will still stand and you’ll have to pay for the car another way if you cancel your finance agreement.


Get in touch with the team at Zuto to find out more about buying a car on finance. We work with lenders who offer bad credit car finance. Use our car finance calculator to help you work out what you can afford, then give us a call on 01625 619944.

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