The Consumer Rights Act

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 and covers the purchase of goods, digital content and services including new and used cars from official dealers (it doesn’t apply to private sales) as well as servicing, repairs and maintenance work. Like the Sale of Goods Act that preceded it, the Consumer Rights Actstates that products must be:

  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose, and
  • as described

(For cars purchased before 1 October 2015 the Sale of Goods Act still applies) The dealer must have the right to sell the vehicle and is liable for faults with the vehicle – that mean it was not of satisfactory quality – that were present at the time it was sold even though they may only become apparent later on. Satisfactory quality Satisfactory quality means that the vehicle should be of a standard a reasonable person would expect, taking into account factors such as:

  • age
  • value
  • history
  • mileage
  • make
  • durability
  • safety, and
  • description

An old car with high mileage would not be expected to be as good as a younger car with low mileage but each should still be roadworthy, reliable, and in a condition consistent with its age/price. Wear and tear The dealer is not liable for fair wear and tear, where the vehicle broke down or the fault emerged through normal use, nor are they liable if they drew your attention to the full extent of any fault or defect before you bought the car. Fit for purpose Fit for purpose means that you must be able to use the vehicle for the purposes that you would normally expect from a vehicle including any particular purpose that you tell the dealer about before you buy, or which the dealer has advertised or gleaned from your conversation. This would include towing or short journey use. Faults, repairs and refunds Under the new act, if a fault renders the product not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described, then the buyer is entitled to reject it within the first 30 days. Between 30 days and 6 months If a fault comes to light after 30 days but before 6 months have passed then you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. It is assumed in law that the fault was present at the time of purchase unless the seller can prove otherwise. During this period, unless you have agreed otherwise, the seller (dealer) has only one opportunity to repair (or replace) the faulty vehicle after which, if they fail to repair it, you are entitled to a refund. In the event of a refund following a failed attempt at repair during the first six months the seller is permitted to make a ‘reasonable’ adjustment to the amount refunded to take account of the use that you have had of the vehicle since you bought it. After 6 months For faults that arise after six months the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery if you want to pursue a claim for repair or replacement.

Related information from Citizens advice »

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Dealers must also comply with the requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which prohibit them from engaging in unfair business practices across five main categories:

  • Giving false information either verbally, visually or in writing, for example misrepresenting the vehicle’s specification or history at any time before, during or after the transaction.
  • Giving insufficient information – leaving out or hiding important information for example not disclosing the existence and results of all checks carried out on the vehicle’s mechanical condition, history and mileage or failing to draw your attention to the key elements of any warranty e.g. what’s covered, claim limits and conditions to be followed.
  • Acting aggressively for example using high pressure selling techniques to sell a vehicle or associated finance or warranty.
  • Failing to act in accordance with reasonable expectations of what’s acceptable
  • Banning outright of 31 specific practices including: falsely claiming to be a signatory to a Code of Practice; falsely claiming to be approved, endorsed or authorised by a public or private body; falsely stating that a vehicle will only be available for a very limited time in order to elicit an immediate decision to buy.
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