Your Rights When Buying a Car

It's important to know your rights when purchasing a vehicle so ensure to do your research beforehand

Buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make in your lifetime - likely behind buying a house - even if it's on finance rather than paying cash upfront.

It's therefore critically important that you completely understand what you're signing up for and your rights should you not be happy with anything now or further down the line.

If for whatever reason, you do have any doubts about the car or its history, it's probably better for you to go with your gut and not proceed with it. If you do go ahead and something happens, you may lose out on a significant amount of money.

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Knowing your rights will ensure that you don't go into a purchase too quickly and actually take time to consider what you're getting yourself. Doing this will make you feel secure about splashing out your new vehicle.

Working with fully licensed dealers, lenders, and finance brokers will ensure that you get your desired car at the price that suits your needs and budget, without you having to worry about anything else that could come with it.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 was introduced to cover the purchase of digital content, services, and goods - including new and used cars from official dealers - plus repairs, maintenance work, and servicing.

For a product to pass, it must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, and as described.

A car dealer must be licensed to sell vehicles; they are liable for any faults at the time of the sale, even though they may not necessarily have known of them at the time.

Fit for purpose

It means you must be able to use the vehicle for the purpose intended.

Satisfactory quality

It means the vehicle should be in the state you'd expect it to be in based on its age, mileage, make, description, history, and value.

Wear and tear

Fair wear and tear are to be expected, and the dealer is not liable for this where the car broke down or the fault occurred through normal use. They're also not liable if they made any faults known to you before you purchased the vehicle.

Faults, repairs, and refunds

The buyer of a vehicle is entitled to return the product within the first 30 days if it's not fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, or as described under the new act.

If you discover a fault between 30-60 days, you're entitled to a repair, replacement, or refund, providing that the fault was in place before the purchase unless the dealer can prove otherwise. 


Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) is also in place to ensure dealers comply with fair business practices. Here's what they cannot do:

Provide false information – either verbally, visually, or in writing.
Provide insufficient information – leaving out or hiding important information.
Aggressive behaviour - using high-pressure selling techniques.
Fail to act in accordance with reasonable expectations of what's acceptable.

Buying a used car online

Buying online has become increasingly popular, particularly during and post Covid-19 times. The ease of doing everything from the comfort of your own home is one of many habits that have changed for car buyers in the past two years.

It may save you time, but it's important that you are vigilant about what you're buying and agreeing.

You have a right to cancel from the moment you place your order until 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

If you decide to cancel, you have 14 days to return the vehicle, and then you should get a refund within 14 days of returning the car to the dealer.

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Buying a used car privately

Buying a used car privately is a little riskier as you are putting your trust in the seller that what they have told you about the vehicle is legitimate. 

You're very much on your own if you decide to go down this route, and you should ensure you ask all the relevant questions so you can be confident that the car is fit for purpose, as described, and of satisfactory quality.

You won't have the legal rights you would if buying from a dealer, and it's worth doing your own research into the car to determine if everything you're buying is accurate.

You should be wary if a private seller asks to meet you somewhere that isn't their home or if their name isn't on the V5C registration document.

The only legal terms that cover a private sale contract are:

  • The seller must have the right to sell the car.
  • The vehicle should match the description given by the seller.
  • The car must be road-worthy


What should I do if I've been sold a faulty car?

You should contact the seller immediately and let them know the extent of the faults. They should be able to help you due to the consumer rights that you have.

Can I get a refund if buying a second hand car?

Assuming you've bought the second hand car from a used car dealer, you can contact them and find out your options. The laws assumes that there was a fault at the time of delivery unless the seller can prove otherwise. If they fail to repair or replace your car, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund.