Calling time on dodgy second-hand car dealers

Published by Rebecca Atkinson on 17 March 2010.
Last updated on 18 March 2010

Second-hand car dealer

The consumer watchdog has promised to crackdown on used car dealers after its investigations found consumers could lose out £580 million a year through illegal clocking to show false mileage.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) also found many second-hand car deals pretend to be private sellers, to evade their legal obligations to consumers, while other use illegal disclaimers about a vehicles history or condition.

One in four dealers fail to supply sufficient information about the vehicle while unsafe or clocked car currently account for around £40 million of second-hand car sales.

Earlier this year, the OFT reported that 86% of problems with second-hand cars arise within just three months of purchase – with the average cost to the buyer a painful £465.

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 worse, 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.

Although the watchdog has ruled out introducing new legislation to protect consumers, it says it will crack down on dealers who break the law.

Heather Clayton, senior director of the OFT’s consumer group, says:  “Many [second-hand car] dealers provide high standards of service and comply fully with the law but there continues to be high numbers of complaints to Consumer Direct, which are often due to dealers' refusing to deal with legitimate complaints or provide appropriate redress.”

She adds: “Along with our Trading Standards partners, we will take action against those dealers who continue to ignore the law.”

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