Don’t Be Misled By Warranties Removing Your Legal Rights

Thursday, 30. June 2011

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.
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There has been a great deal of publicity recently about the way that customers are treated by car dealers with trading standards suggesting that millions of pounds of repairs are being paid for by customers when in fact the repairs are legally the responsibility of the dealer. Sadly this also includes legitimate warranty claims on cars covered by the manufacturers’ warranty. So what are your rights as a buyer? Can you hand the car back and if so how long have you got before the dealer can say you’re too late chum and suggest you get lost? Sometimes no more politely than that.

First of all the regulations that cover the purchase of a new or used vehicle from a dealer is (deep breath) The Sale Of Goods Act 1982 (as modified by the Supply of Goods And Services Act 1982, the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumer Regulations 2002).

My opinion is that all that lot should be combined into one very clear and easily understood law but I guess we will have to wait for our UK law creators in Brussels to take on that initiative which will help just Slovinia, Lithuania, Latvia and France! So where do we stand at the moment?

The cars sold to you must meet 3 main criteria, firstly it must be as described. If the car doesn’t meet the condition or specification, as described, the seller is in breach of contract. In a recent case ‘as described’ includes the CO2 output as provided in an advert. The second criteria that the car must meet is Fit for Purpose.

If the car doesn’t meet the use described by the dealer, or isn’t fit for a specific use which you made clear, the seller is in breach of contract. I seem to recall a case whereby a car was sold to a customer who was going to drive very high mileage and wanted a car that was suitable for driving 50,000 miles per annum.

The customer was sold a car with no lumbar adjustment to the driver’s seat which resulted in severe back problems. The car was considered unfit for the purpose for which it was bought. Lastly the car must be of Satisfactory Quality.

It must not have any minor defects, be safe, durable and have satisfactory appearance and finish. If not the dealer is in breach of contract. The problem here is that often the advice provided by the Office of Fair Trading, Citizens Advice Bureau or Government backed Consumer Direct is incorrect, misleading or inaccurate, leaving the customer worse off than when he started.

A common piece of advice that I’ve heard myself in the past is that if a car has a fault you must give the dealer 3 opportunities to fix the fault before being able to take action. That is actually nonsense, you don’t have to give him any opportunity to repair the fault.

The next common misunderstanding is that if you have given the dealer the opportunity to repair the fault and it isn’t repaired you need to write to him twice, first time to tell him you will take him to court in order to reject the vehicle if the fault remains after 14 days and second time, after the 14 days have elapsed, restating that you will take the dealer to court.

This is actually wrong again. You only have to write to the dealer once to state that you reject the car. In fact you could jeopardise your case if you don’t write immediately as the court may drop the amount to be refunded to allow for the fact that you’ve used the vehicle and even worse if the fault gets worse you could be held partially responsible for any increased damage caused by the fault.

You need to write as soon as possible and use the car as little as possible. The real problem here is that if you reject a car and the dealer won’t accept it you could end up going to court that can take a long time and be very expensive. So it’s wise to choose the supplier carefully and preferably one that has been recommended.

The same principal applies when taking finance, use a broker you know and trust as opposed to the high risk Internet bucket shops. A few other tips are, check your insurance policy, you may have included legal cover that will cover the costs if you have to go to court with the dealer.

Keep up finance payments, you may have to recover the payments when you go to court (if you need to). Certain types of finance such as HP, Conditional Sale and PCP offer you much more legal cover than a straight loan or cash payment. If you have a fault that you feel should cause you to reject the car make sure you use it as little as possible.

Use an independent inspector to provide a report on the fault and its seriousness. Up to 6 months after purchase any identified fault is assumed to have been there when you bought the car otherwise you must have a good inspection report that shows that the fault must have been there when the car was purchased.

If a problem is brought to your attention when you buy a car then you can’t subsequently reject the car on the basis of the fault already known about. Always reject in writing, explaining the reasons why the car is being rejected, asking for the car to be collected and requesting all your money back. Keep copies of all correspondence.

So there you go, I could mention more but it gets a bit bloody boring after a time! Had problems with dealers? Tell me about it? By Graham Hill

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