Car buyer guide: Tips for 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 be “of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and free from any defect”. A fault has to be significant, which on a used car will include considerations for age and mileage.
- Inspect the car for faults before purchase. Get written confirmation that faults will be addressed prior to delivery. Take photos or video highlighting problems to compare to the ‘fixed’ results.
- Inspect the car again at time of delivery. Do not allow the dealer to rush you. 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, by phone if possible. Follow up in writing as well (email is fine). Explain the problem clearly and in detail, and supply photos or any other evidence.
- If you plan to reject the car, do not keep driving it unless absolutely necessary and you have no alternative. If you do need to drive the car, make sure you inform the dealer to avoid any dispute later on. By continuing to drive the car, you may make it more difficult to argue it has a significant fault.
- Get everything in writing, with clear dates. If the dealer is happy for you to keep driving the car until it can be looked at, 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.
- If you are buying a used car, especially an older car, be clear (in writing) about anything that is not working that you want fixed before delivery. If a dealer offers you a car with a known fault and it is advertised as such, 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.
- The Act covers you for up to six months after purchase. However, the clock stops while the dealer has the car to investigate the fault or make repairs. This is to stop a dealer taking an excessively long time to investigate a fault, to try and reduce the time available for you to reject the vehicle. So if the dealer has your car for a week, you can add a week onto your 30 days or six months as relevant.
- The dealer is unlikely to meekly accept your rejection of the vehicle. A rejection will cost them thousands of pounds, so they will either want to fight you (and potentially force you to take them to Court) or offer you other incentives to keep the car. If you accept any such offers, you will almost certainly waive any further right to reject the vehicle.
If you have a question about your rights when rejecting a car that has not been covered by this article, please ask us in the comments section. Please have a read through other people’s questions before posting yours, as we won’t keep repeating the same answers to the same questions over and over again.
Disclaimer: Any opinions or views expressed in this article are the views of the author and should not be considered as professional legal opinion. Should you be in any doubt, always seek the advice of a qualified legal professional.
This article was originally published in September 2016 and was most recently updated in May 2020.