A friend of mine once unwisely bought a used Volkswagen Beetle while we were attending university together. He didn’t have a car and was tired of bumming rides from friends everywhere he went. He haggled the owner down to just a few hundred dollars for the car, which had a fresh coat of paint and a recent oil change to its credit.
A week later, he headed home for the winter break, and made it about 15 miles when the Beetle suffered a complete breakdown on the highway. The carburetor was shot and the transmission close to death as well. My friend had been scammed – the car was dangerous above 40 miles per hour.
The lesson learned? Used cars are sold for a reason; and if you don’t figure out what that reason is, you might be buying yourself a lemon as well.
In 2014, the number of used cars sold in the UK topped 7.2 million, against just 2.5 million new cars. That number is a significant increase over 6.3 used cars in 2009. Buying a used car in the current economy can make a lot of sense.[tweet_dis_img][/tweet_dis_img]
Prices are always cheaper than they would be at a dealership, and you can often get a steal of a deal from someone seeking a vehicle they can no longer afford to pay for. The same applies to used car dealerships. Whenever there are economic factors at play, like the price of fuel skyrocketing, these lots must figure out a way to move the merchandise. That often means selling off vehicles cheaper than normal.
In 2014, a poll of UK citizens revealed that 71 per cent were “very satisfied” with their used car purchase, with a further 24 per cent “quite satisfied.” Regardless of how you purchase a used car, the smartest thing you can do is get a car sale contract which clearly defines all parameters of the transaction.
The gist of the car sale contract is that it ensures that both parties are getting a fair deal, and anything like unseen damage to the car is taken care of upfront.
There are two ways to acquire a used car – either from a dealer or from a private seller. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
Buying A Used Car From A Dealer
Buying from a dealer allows you to operate under the Consumer Rights Act, which gives you several legal fallbacks including that the vehicle be fit for purpose, be of satisfactory quality, and that it meets the description given when you were buying it. In other words, if the online ad for the vehicle read “minor front-end damage” but the actual car has no bumper, you’re protected.
Once you’ve bought the vehicle, you have a further 30 days to determine if it fits the conditions above. If you find it lacking, you can reject the vehicle sale and get a full refund.
Of course it’s not that simple. First and foremost, make sure you get a paper trail going by contacting the dealer to apprise them of the situation. In many cases they can offer to repair or replace whatever is wrong. If they do so, make sure you get it all in writing.
If the dealer refuses to repair the damage, you’re well within your rights to start the process of rejecting the car and returning it. If the dealership refuses to recognise the rejection, your next step should be contact the car’s manufacturer, specifically the customer relations department, and apprise them. They can often negotiate a settlement for you. If that doesn’t work, it’s definitely time to call a lawyer.
Buying A Used Car From A Private Seller
Since private sellers aren’t commercially licensed, they don’t have to follow nearly as many restrictions as a certified dealer. Of course on the flip side, individuals are generally a lot more flexible when it comes to negotiating price, and working deals or trades.
Just like a dealership, private sellers are bound by law to represent their vehicles properly in description. If the car develops a problem from a pre-existing condition – i.e. a lack of timely oil changes causes permanent damage to the engine – you can demand the seller pay for the repairs.
If they refuse, and the damage is less than £100,000, you can sue the seller using the Money Claims Online service. Be forewarned, however, you must be able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you were misled by the owner.
The best thing to do is have an objective mechanic give the car a complete once-over to see what problems there might be before buying it. If you don’t take it upon yourself to do this, the court might not rule in your favour.
Final Words On Purchasing A Used Car
Used cars are a great way to get an affordable ride at a discounted price, but you need to be aware of the laws in place protecting both buyers and sellers when it comes to the actual transaction. Regardless of what side of the deal you might be on, know your rights so that potential headaches down the road can be overcome.
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