UPDATE – 28 SEPTEMBER 2016
Due to the huge number of questions generated by this topic, we have taken the time to replace this article with a brand new and more comprehensive explanation of your rights when rejecting a new or used car. Please follow this link to our new article from now on:
This old article will no longer be updated, and any questions will be directed to the new article. Many thanks, stuart.
(PS – if you’ve come here from the MoneySavingExpert forum, then they have been asked to update their links to the new article above. Also never take advice from the anonymous keyboard warriors on the MoneySavingExpert forum, as they are very often wrong and misguided!
From 1 October 2015, the old Sale of Goods Act 1979 will be effectively replaced for business to consumer (B2C) sales by the new Consumer Rights Act 2015, which is good news for car buyers. The new Act gives greater consumer protection in line with EU requirements.
The big benefit of the new law is that car buyers will have 30 days to reject a new or used car from a dealership if it has a fault which was present when you took delivery. The old legislation was vague and was not easily enforceable in the event of problems with a vehicle.
If a customer wants to accept a repair then they can, but they are not obliged to and can demand a full refund.
The new rules, which only affect private car buyers (consumers) rather than businesses, and only from cars bought from registered traders (i.e. – not private sales). The Act covers both new and used cars.
This is a very powerful law in support of consumers, but it is important that you follow a clear and careful process to make sure you have the backing of the new law.
It is the customer’s obligation to prove that there was a fault when they took delivery of the car. Faults that only appear after you have driven off will not count unless you can show that they had to have been present when you collected the car.
The rules should be particularly useful when purchasing from auction, or other situations where there is little or no opportunity to inspect a car before purchase.
Tips for car buyers when rejecting a car
- A fault does not have to be a problem that renders the car undriveable. According to the Act, the “goods” (i.e. – the car) must in of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and free from any defect.
- Inspect the car for faults before purchase, and get written confirmation that they will be addressed prior to delivery. Take photos or video to highlight the problem so you can compare to the ‘fixed’ result.
- Inspect the car for faults at time of delivery. Do not allow the dealer to rush you and do not sign any documentation on delivery until you have inspected the car thoroughly.
- Once you have driven home, inspect the car again. If you spot any problems, take photos or video evidence.
- If you notice any problems, cease driving the car as soon as is practical. Notify the dealership immediately, preferably via phone and definitely in writing (email is fine). Explain the problem clearly and in detail, and supply photos or any other evidence.
- If you are interested in pursuing your option to reject the car, do not keep driving it unless absolutely necessary and there is no alternative. If you do need to drive the car, make sure you inform the dealer to avoid any dispute later on.
- Get everything in writing, with clear dates. If the dealer is happy for you to keep driving the car until they are available to look at it, get an email confirming that. A car dealer’s verbal promise is worth nothing.
- This is not an excuse to change your mind because you don’t want the car anymore, or you realise that you’ve bought the wrong car for your needs. There has to be a clear fault with the vehicle.
- Rejecting a car will be easier for a new car than a used car, simply because there are fewer grey areas and everything should be working properly on a brand new car. If you are buying a used car, especially an older car, you will need to clear (get it in writing) about anything that is not working that you want fixed before delivery. If a dealer is offering a car with a known fault, and it is advertised as such and sold ‘as is’, you can’t reject the car because of that fault.
- The Act only governs faults that were present when you bought the car, not ones that developed afterwards. That’s what warranties are for.
- Your 30 days is paused while a fault is investigated and repaired. This is to stop a dealer taking 31 days to investigate a fault and then decline to refund or repair because it’s outside the legal window.
Unless there is a clause in the sales contract which says you are obliged to return the car, then it is the dealer’s obligation to collect the vehicle. You only have to make sure the car is available to collect.
If you are rejecting the car under the new 30-day ‘short term right to reject’ legislation, you are entitled to a full refund by the same method in which you paid for the car. The dealer cannot charge for usage, damage, wear and tear, collection of the vehicle or anything else.
UPDATE – 28 SEPTEMBER 2016
Once again, please note that this article has now been replaced by a brand new and more comprehensive explanation of your rights when rejecting a new or used car. Please follow this link to our new article:
This comments section below will no longer be updated, and any questions from readers will be directed to the new article. Many thanks, stuart.
For the best independent and impartial car buying advice on the internet, always check with The Car Expert: