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Consumer Rights and Faulty Cars

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A client of ours who bought a "near" classic car from a dealer has just had his money returned in full after finding a major defect.

The car in question was a 2001 Subaru Impreza,  a car much revered in its day and prices are rising for good examples as collectability takes hold.  The car was bought over the internet from a classic car dealer sight unseen, not something I would do for a £10K car but some people do. On collecting the car it looked great and drove well and came with a full tank of petrol, what could go wrong?

Having picked the car up mid-week it was not until the first weekend when the buyer had chance to have a good look at his new toy.  Getting it up on axles stands to remove the wheels he discovered some rust, not a little bit of surface rust but some pretty major structural rust. This was not the car he had been expecting. The consumer rights act 2015 states that the object, in this case a car, must be "fit for purpose" be "of satisfactory quality" and "as described". This car would fail on all three counts but as you might guess, the dealer was initially "reluctant" to refund the client. However, the act goes on to state that you have a right to reject something and are entitled to a full refund within 30 days of purchase if any of the above criteria are not met. So, you need to act fairly quickly as the short-term right to return goods expires after 30 days but in this case the client did act quickly. The car had been described as "excellent" when clearly it was not, was not fit for purpose as the car was in fact in a dangerous, and even though the act allows some discretion on "satisfactory quality" because of the vehicles age, this car would not have passed that test in this instance.

With the aid of his local Citizens Advice service who pointed out the situation and that should the matter proceed to court the dealer could be responsible for court costs, they, "as a gesture of goodwill" decided to take the car back and fully refund the buyer. It's good to know these things but beware, the protection for cars bought privately is much more limited and revolves around the car meeting the legal requirement to be driven on the road, the buyer shoulders the responsibility for "fit for purpose" and "of satisfactory quality" so you need to be much more careful when buying privately. 

A good result for the customer and a lesson learnt.


Routen Chaplin




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