Rejecting used car: how to prove that the fault was present at the point of sale

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Stuart Masson Stuart Masson 4 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #92361 Reply



    I have bought a Ford which is less than 4 years old with low miles for £6000 by cash.
    On the first longer trip, the car has broken down on the motorway when we were coming back home.
    I have called to recovery company. Truck came and took car to garage. They said that it is probably engine head gasket failure. So I cannot use the car even for short distances.
    I used car only for around 300 miles and I have car for less than 3 weeks.
    Following day I informed dealer by phone and email. I have explained everything and told that I want to reject car and to get full refund.
    I think, that it is not difficult to prove that there is a fault, because car is not of satisfactory quality. But how to prove that the fault was present at the point of sale?
    After this car fault I have started again checking all documents. I found out, that dealer put stamp (date is the same then we bought car) in service portfolio, but we didn’t get any documents which will prove that service was really made. So it is not clear what kind of check has been done by dealer before car was sold.
    The last service (with all documents in detail) was done 20 months ago and in this period of time car was used for a bit more than 12000 miles.
    All I get from dealer is just two MOT test certificates. As well I have 3 month mechanical breakdown guarantee in which is write ‘I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, this vehicle is mechanically sound and of roadworthy condition, and that any mechanical faults at the time of sale that fall within the scope of this policy, have been corrected and the vehicle has had a pre-delivery inspection.’ But I didn’t get pre-delivery inspection document. Or maybe they don’t have to give this document for costumer?
    Before I bought a car, I was informed that everything is fine, that car was checked. So I believed that everything is fine, because the dealer is big and well known.
    Now I feel that I can’t trust for my dealer and I decided to check my car by an independent garage and just after this to give car for a dealer.
    The basic question is: how to prove that the fault was present at the point of sale?

  • #92364 Reply
    Stuart Masson
    Stuart Masson

    Hi Indra. If the car has broken down with a head gasket failure, it should not be difficult to argue that the fault was present at point of sale and the dealer would struggle to prove otherwise.

    A written opinion from the third-party garage should be sufficient. If the dealer refuses to accept the rejection, you would then need to argue it out with them.

  • #106188 Reply


    Hi Stuart,
    My son (new driver) bought a used Mazda (55 reg) on 9 September 2016. 3 months later he was driving home (fortunately still in 30mph area but about to go on 70mph dual carriageway at rush hour) when his brakes failed at an intersection. Fortunately he was able to pull to the side and neither he or no one else was hurt, this could have ended very differently if the normal route home had not been blocked by a serious accident he would have been on a 70mph dual carriageway at this point.
    He was recovered to a local garage and the breakdown recovery driver had found that the rear driver’s side brake line ruptured. The garage found that the whole underside of the car was severely corroded and the brake lines were corroded to the bottom of the car. The dealer was contacted and agreed that the local garage could fix the rear brake lines the garage negotiated the cost and payment directly with the dealer. We were unaware that only the rear brake lines were replaced by the way.
    3 weeks later (Christmas and New Year in between) the car went for it’s MOT at the same garage, which it failed because of corroded front brake lines (we thought that they were all fixed, however we don’t want to fight with the garage as well). In addition there were advisories regarding corrosion on suspension etc (stuff that was mentioned 3 years prior on MOT advisories but had not been mentioned in the 2 most recent MOT’s which we erroneously thought meant they had been sorted).
    My son has written to the dealer immediately after getting the MOT failure to reject the car, he also stated that as he’d had the use of the car for 4 months ( though it didn’t go anywhere much over 2 weeks at Christmas) he was prepared to negotiate on the refund as he’d had the use of it for 4 months but bearing in mind that he’d had to put 4 new tyres and replace nearly all the headlights and taillights. The dealer asked how much to repair but he had lost confidence in the car and said he wanted a refund. Silence from the dealer until we have 3 days until the MOT runs out and he’s sent a solicitors letter claiming that the fault was not there when they sold the car. So he’s trying to claim that the brake lines corroded and ruptured all in 3 months.
    My son feels that he can’t prove that they didn’t but I disagree I can’t believe that the dealer can really claim this particularly after fixing the rear brake lines already. In addition the pre-cat lambda sensor has failed causing the warning light to come on but can’t be fixed because it is corroded to the bottom of the car. This will cause the car to fail the emissions test though by some fluke it just passed.
    Do you know if brake lines can corrode to the point of failure in 3 months?

    • #106396 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Judith. No, the brake lines would not be likely to corrode to the point of failure in three months on a new car. However, we are not talking about a new car.

      Corrosion is inevitable on a car in some way or another, so it is effectively wear and tear. It is entirely possible that the brake lines were considered safe when the car was sold and subsequently corroded to an unsafe level.

      Your son’s case is likely to depend on the weight of evidence to suggest whether the brakes were acceptable at the point of sale. The MOT reports are one consideration, but the dealer’s own pre-sale inspection would also be taken into account by a judge. If the dealer can show that the brake system was properly inspected then it would strengthen their case. If they can’t show this, it would strengthen yours.

      You will need to engage a solicitor to represent you and assist you in fighting your case, especially since the dealer appears to have already done so to defend theirs.

  • #107075 Reply


    Hi Stuart,
    Since asking that question, and to inform others reading this we have had DEKRA inspect the car and their view is that the amount of corrosion that is on the underside of the car and caused the failure of the rear brake lines and the MOT failure of the front brake lines would definitely have been present at the point of sale. Also reading the consumer rights act it clearly says that the dealer would have to prove it wasn’t in this condition at the point of sale up until 6 months after point of sale. As the dealer (used car sales) couldn’t even find the sales invoice and had to ask us for a copy and as the MOT was 8 months old I think that they have made a threat using a cheap online solicitor to put us off. Since my son could have been killed I will be pursuing them to the bitter end.

  • #109092 Reply

    Elaine Collughan


    We bought a Mazda 6 which broke down in the first 16 miles (on the first day we had it). We needed to be towed by the AA. Both AA and garage (who towed the vehicle back to themselves) didnt agree on what caused the malfunction – AA stated that it could have been the oil pump and the garage stated that it was clogged fuel injectors. The garage claim that these fuel injectors could have been clogged by us putting in dirty fuel and stated that they wanted to investigate to find out. However, how likely is this? Do the garage have a case? Also I dont trust their mechanics to provide us with an honest answer. Please advise.

    • #109168 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Elaine. The dealer is not obliged to accept your rejection (as you can imagine, there have been a number of buyers trying to reject a car as an excuse because they no longer want it), so they are entitled to investigate any claim that the vehicle is faulty.

      Clogged fuel systems are relatively common – often because dealers sell cars with almost no fuel in the tank, meaning the fuel pumps are sucking any debris and detritus in the bottom of the fuel tank into the engine. If this happened on the day you bought the car and you took delivery with the fuel gauge indicating empty, it is a far more likely answer than poor quality fuel.

      If it is clogged injectors, then it’s an easy fix and will not cause lasting harm, and therefore is unlikely to be acceptable as a reason to reject the car.

  • #118333 Reply


    I bought an Mercedes A140 on 11.08.17. On driving home the BAS/ESP warning light came on and the car went into limp mode. I test drove the car (at speeds of no faster than 30/40 mph) before purchase and the light did not appear. I did not get a pre-inspection proof from dealer. Car is 2004, with 75000 miles. Although the car is old, the mileage is low. The issue is remedied temporarily by turning off ignition and restarting – a little hairy when travelling on dual carriageway at 70mph when car is loosing speed as in limp mode. The issue is intermittent. I took the car to a local garage the next day and the mechanic drove the car and witnessed the problem. On running diagnostics the car did not show any faults. Which I found surprising as the car had gone into limp mode the day before. The mechanic suggested that the Steering angle sensor may be a fault, and if this is the case it would be an expensive part to replace if required. It could be that it just needs resetting. My question is that I would like the dealer I bought the car from to make this repair at their expense, but they are refusing to do this, they are considering going halves on the cost. The car is currently with them to diagnose the problem. I do not think that this is a new issue, and I feel that the car is unsafe to drive. I do not know if there is a way to prove that the fault was present at the time of sale? Your advise it greatly appreciated.

    • #118338 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Kate. If you had a mechanical problem on the way home from the dealership, it would be difficult for them to argue that the fault was not present at the point of sale.
      However, your story suggests that you did not immediately report the problem to the dealership and instead went to another garage the next day.
      If you have a used car warranty, you can see if the problem is likely to be covered under that.
      If you want to use the fault as a means to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act, you will need to get the other garage to provide a written report, confirming the fault. Then you can take this back to the selling dealer as evidence that the fault was present when the car was purchased.

  • #122035 Reply



    We purchased a 21 year old Mazda Bongo on 6th October 2017. We paid £200 deposit and the balance in cash on collection.

    We’ve now had the vehicle independently checked by a garage (12th October 2017) and they have made list of the work that needs to be done on the vehicle to make it safe. Whilst we accept that the vehicle is 21 years old, we feel some of the issues raised should have been picked up at MOT (dated 4th October 2017) and I don’t think it should have passed. Also, on 7th October 2017, the day after we collected the vehicle, the rear section of the exhaust fell off.

    The full list of problems raised by the garage were; front discs on inner faces, OSF suspension link, both front tyres worn on edges, OSR inner sill, NS and OS front inner sill, both front outer sills, both rear brake discs and both front brake discs on inner faces, rear brake pad nearly on steel. The only advisories on the MOT were; brake pas(s) wearing thin Front, Tyre worn close to legal limit – nearside front and slight corrosion nearside front battery tray.

    As we purchased the vehicle less than 30 days ago, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, do we qualify for a full refund.

    • #122074 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Geoff. If the car was to fail an MOT shortly after purchase, you’d have a good argument for rejecting the vehicle under the Consumer Rights Act (assuming you bought the car from a trader rather than privately, which you didn’t mention).

      If the concerns raised by the third-party garage show that the car is unroadworthy rather than just suffering from wear, you may be able to convince the dealer to refund your money.

      Advisories are not suitable reasons for a refund, as it may be months or years before action needs to be taken depending on how much driving you do. You need to have evidence that the car is faulty. The exhaust falling off would need to be shown as a fault, rather than being damaged while driving.

    • #127636 Reply

      Jillian O

      Hi Stuart, I brought a Volkswagen Golf gt sport 1.4 tsi 170, on finance in January 2016, the car has been problematic since I brought it and been recovered several times, and had a FULL engine rebuild by the sealing dealer within six months of purchase, which resulted in them keeping the car for 6 weeks and sending off the cylinder head allegedly. The did not resolve the issues the car was still misfiring and and losing power that in June 2017 the car was in the garage for timing cain replacement. I had lost all faith in the dealer and also the finance company.After the chain replacement the car was recovered by VW for recall of abs/epc unit, after the work was done the car was still misfiring on all cyclinders and multiple issues, VW said that they felt the engine had had a replacement and ‘poor’ work was done on the car. The engine management light comes on intermittently and misfires real bad. On Monday I had MOT done and car failed due to emissions and high lamda reading, Kwik Fit did a diagnostic on the vehicle and again multiple cylinder failure, and now car is not road worthy. I have paperwork that dealer did not present to me on sale that a lot of work had been done on the vehicle prior to me buying it namely timing chain replacement and also engine lights and multiple misfiring. I have lots of evidence from various garages and RAC, also VW regarding the misfiring that I have reported on numerous occasions to dealer and finance.
      I have reported this latest MOT failure unroadworthy report to finance company and to the ombudsman, the finance company are saying they cannnot assist my claim and that I have to prove that the faults were there at point of sale or developing, they are also saying that it will be hard for me to prove as the car had full engine rebuild. I have disabilities and severe back issues, I also have young children that I need to take to and from school. I feel the dealer are being unreasonable, yes a certain of time in the contract has elapsed, but surely with the amount of reports and issues I have had with the car justifies faults at point of sale? I am seriously at the end of my tether with it all, I have kept to
      My side of the deal and made payments on time and no default, they have not kept to theirs in the car is not fit for purpose and full of faults electrical and mechanical, I just want to return. The car and pay for a car that actually works: :-(

    • #127799 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Jillian. The Consumer Rights Act provides a six-month window for buyers to reject the car where the law is essentially on your side and it’s up to the dealer to prove that the faults were not present at the time of sale.

      Once you go beyond this six-month window, the law essentially favours the dealer and it’s up to you to prove that the car was faulty at the time of sale. Since you have now had the car or two yers and did not reject it in the first six months, despite claiming that it had significant faults during that time, it makes it much harder to try and reject it now.

      Realistically, you will need to engage a lawyer to represent you and work through your correspondence with the dealer dating back to when you first had problems. They may be able to find a way that allows you to reject the car, although the dealer will still be entitled to reduce the refund amount significantly since you have owned the car for more than two years now.

      However, there is no guarantee that you would win or get back enough to cover what you’ve spent on legal costs.

  • #122104 Reply


    I bought a used vehicle from a dealer on the 30 September 2017. The engine management light came on two days ago and I took it to a different mechanic just to diagnose the problem. The mechanic e
    advised that there were serious faults with the vehicle and it should not have been sold to me in this state. I called the dealer and told him i
    I’d like to return the vehicle as it’s within the 30 days form purchase but he refused to offer refund. He said to bring the car so he can fix it. I don’t trust him and don’t want the car fixed, but would like a full refund. He refused and said I would have to let him fix it. Do you know if I can return the car and request full refund? My sales invoice said that I’m entitled to take the car for an inspection at an independent garage.

    • #122246 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Ola. If it’s a significant fault, you can reject the car within the first 30 days and you do not have to accept a repair if you don’t want to.

      The difficulty is establishing whether the problem is enough to render the car faulty. An engine management light may come on for any number of reasons, and it may not be for a significant fault.

      For more information, have a read of our article about rejecting a faulty car.

  • #123260 Reply

    Mark farren

    Hi I bought a car from stonacre in hull in February 2017.
    On finance from marsh finance and we had to have a black box fitted as we had bad credit ,
    We got 3 month warranty,
    Unfortunately approximately 5 weeks into having to car , we had a leak from the roof as it is a hard top convertible Ford Focus , we reported this to them and that asked us to take it to Blackburn depot , they had it few days and was unable to find fault they said & then when they did find it and they said they couldn’t re pair it and it had to go back to stone acre at hull , stone acre arranged someone to collect the car from us at great harwood,Blackburn back to hull 115 miles each way , they had the car for a good few weeks , they arranged courtesy car for this period , they then brought the car back & they thought they had fixed the problem , unfortunately when the car arrived back we did a water test via hose pipe and the leak was still there and worse than before , so then we contacted hull again and they again arranged for someone to come and collect our car for further test , so another 3/4 weeks passed and car again came back to us , we had the car for a few days and again the car started leaking in again , so we contacted hull , and arranged collection once more ,
    For a full month of May / June they carried extensive test to see where this leak was coming from , this was the 3/4th time back in the garage since February
    They thought they had fixed it once more we got the car back and again was leaking
    They had done smoke tests ect and couldn’t find a leak , we got the car back
    And we filmed the leaks taken loads of photos and sent them to stoneacre hull ,
    They have had the car probably for a good 12 weeks in total I did ask for
    Exstention of warranty which was arranged, free mot & services,
    In which they emailed ,
    Then the leak re appeared this was July / Aug so they again
    Collected car , ordered new seals , fitted them and did test after test they say ,
    And car was leak free as they thought ,
    We got the car back after another month in the garage in September , the car was home week or so and the leak has returned,
    We are now in dispute as we have had enough of the car doing 230 miles every time it’s needed to go back , the fact we bought a convertible we havnt used as in the garage majority of summer , and the leak is still there and it’s had repair after repair
    We have said enough is enough and the car should be returned and finance settled ,and we shouldn’t have to pay any shortfall, they are saying it dosnt work like that and we will only get what the value of what the car is worth at today’s face value any shortfall we will have to pay ??? How can this be if they have had the car more than we have ? Where do we stand and are we within our rights to return the vehicle or reject
    And owe nothing to our finance company,
    Stone acre are now being hard work as all the managers have changed & moved to other areas , stating they won’t cover the short fall ect ,
    This car has had a fault within 5 weeks of purchase & still has the fault they are saying to try and fix it again , we don’t want it fixing now it’s been in so many times and not been fixed please help
    Thank Mark

    • #123271 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Mark. You are probably outside the six-month window for rejecting the car with the support of the Consumer Rights Act, although it depends how long the car has been back with the dealership on its various repair attempts (since that time doesn’t count). you should contact your finance company first, as they have to approve your rejection (it’s their car, not yours).

      If you are able to reject the vehicle under the Consumer Rights Act, you won’t get 100% of your initial price back because the dealer is entitled to reduce the refund based on your use of the vehicle during your ownership. The law does not specify how this is calculated, so its a matter of negotiation/argument.

  • #127279 Reply


    Hi Stuart,

    purchased a Ex-Demo DS3 Cabrio from Citroen Main Dealer(i think Citroen UK)
    in 27.10.2017 since then i am waiting for them to supply second Key, no luck.
    Plus also waiting for the Service Booklet.
    I have contacted them several times but no joy!
    Should i want to sell this car in the future it would be more difficult or costly to me.
    Do i have a case to return this car and asking for my money back.No Part-exchange or HP Agreement in place.
    Your advise helpful, be for i look at legal advise!


    • #127405 Reply
      Stuart Masson
      Stuart Masson

      Hi Helmut. You will have to keep hassling the dealer (without being rude or abusive, of course!). Just keep annoying them, call twice a day if necessary, write to the dealer principal demanding immediate provision of the keys and service books. Go into the dealership, if necessary, and demand to have the items handed over (weekdays are better for this, as they can’t dodge it by saying that the relevant admin staff are not around on weekends), and so on.

      It may be that they have simply lost these items, and are hoping that you will give up and go away so they don’t have to go to the hassle of replacing a £300 key and chasing up service records. That’s not your problem, as you need a spare key (if your current key dies or is lost, you won’t be able to use your car) and a lack of service books will devalue your car when you come to sell it.

      Assuming they can find or replace the missing items, it’s not going to be sufficient grounds to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act.

  • #128593 Reply


    I recently bought a Renault Clio 4 days ago. As I left the used car dealers place I noticed a strange engine noise. I continued to drive home thinking the car might be simply cold, the noise hadn’t disappeared so I got my local mechanic to check the car 2 days after purchase. He thinks I have a faulty / wearing water pump which could damage the engine and make the car un-roadworthy. I have contacted the dealer and asked for a full refund over this. The dealer states even if I get evidence to prove the fault existed when I bought the car. He will argue that my mechanic has corrupted the car in order for me to get a full refund. How should I proceed? Do I go to another interdependent mechanic for a 2nd opinion / evidence?

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