Brits burnt when buying second-hand cars

Frank Butcher, outside his car-dealership, Eastenders

A major investigation into second-hand cars has found that 86% of problems arise within just three months of purchase – with the average cost to the buyer a painful £465.

The Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) investigation found that while the majority of second-hand car purchases go through without a hitch, buyers who do encounter problems struggle to get the problem rectified by the dealer.

Only 47% of those who contracted their dealer managed to get the problem fixed – with the average paying £465. People buying at auction suffered even worst, forking out on average £752 to get the problem sorted.

Meanwhile, nearly 30% of people told the OFT that the dealer failed to resolved the problem at all.

“The second hand car market has consistently attracted a high number of consumer complaints,” says Heather Clayton, senior directer of infrastructure at the OFT.

A shocking 68,000 complaints about second-hand cars were made to Consumer Direct last year.

The OFT says it is considering introducing new rules to protect drivers from being ripped off when buying second-hand cars.

A full market study report on the second-hand car market – which is worth an estimated £35 billion - will be published in early 2010.

Around 3.7 million people are currently planning to buy a second-hand car, according to recent research from Sainsbury’s Finance.

Steven Baillie, head of Sainsbury's Loans, says: "It can of course be significantly cheaper to buy a second-hand car but buyers and sellers could save even more money if they do their homework.”

He recommends sellers find out what the car’s value is in relation to the market, to ensure they get the best deal.

“Buyers should remember to haggle, which can save them hundreds or even thousands of pounds, and if they are financing their purchase through a loan, they should shop around for the best loan rate available as well," Baillie adds.


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