Do you know your rights when you buy a used car from a dealer?

Some people find buying a used car a little nerve racking. There’s so much to consider and no one likes the idea of being ripped off or taken for a ride. Used car dealers don’t seem to rank too highly on the consumer trust surveys either. In fact, according to some figures, only 7% of consumers that visit a dealer expect to have a good experience. But the same survey found that, once consumers had visited a dealer, just 8% had poor experience.

Not sure where to buy your used car? Download our quick guide on the ins and  outs of where to buy your used car

The fact is, you have the same rights when buying a used car as you do when buying a brand new one – or any other item bought through a reputable retailer in fact – thanks the Consumer Rights Act.

In this article we help you find out more about your rights when you buy a used car from a dealer, including:

  • The Conditions of the Consumer Rights Act
  • Your rights
  • The time limits
  • Buying from private sellers
  • Buying from auction


Conditions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015

Coming into force in October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act set out to clarify consumer rights law for both businesses and the consumer. It replaced the Sale of Goods Act.

The Act sets out three main conditions that apply when contracting to buy goods from a retailer: anything sold under a goods contract, including used cars, must be:

  1. Of satisfactory quality – that is they must meet the standard that a reasonable person would consider satisfactory. You need to consider the age and the mileage of the car.
  2. Fit for a particular purpose – so if you have told the dealer you want to use the car to tow a boat trailer, the car must be able to do that safely.
  3. As described – the goods will match the description of sales literature and adverting, either in print or online.

Your rights


If the car you are sold doesn’t conform to the criteria above, then you have the right to reject it. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that you can claim against the dealer for breach of contract under the terms of the Act.

If you have a problem with your car, keep records, take photos and make sure you contact your dealer straight away, in writing.

Remember: parts failure and breakdown due to fair wear and tear is not covered.

If you pay for your car via hire purchase or using a credit card, you are also covered under the Consumer Credit Act.

If the dealer doesn’t agree that there is a problem with the car, you have recourse to the Motor Ombudsman. It is a fully-impartial and focused solely on the automotive sector. It self-regulates the UK’s motor industry through its comprehensive Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Codes of Practice. If the dispute remains unresolved you will have to get in touch with Trading Standards.

You have the option to sort out any disputes through an ombudsman which makes resolution quicker and cheaper than going through the courts.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have a right to a refund or replacement just because you change your mind.

Time limits

You have up to 30 days to return the car and claim a full refund if the car is faulty. If a problem is found after 30 days, but within 6 months of purchase, you can request a repair or replacement of the vehicle.

The onus is on the dealer to demonstrate that the fault didn’t exist when you bought the car. You don’t have to prove that it was.

After 6 months, it is up you to show that the car had the fault when you acquired it.

Buying from a private seller


Unfortunately, the act only covers used cars when bought from a dealer. So, you won’t have the same cover if buy from private individual, either face-to-face or online via an auction site like eBay.

There are other benefits of course to buying from these sources, which we cover in our handy ‘ins and outs’ guide on where to buy a used car.

If you buy privately the rules around quality and suitability for purpose don’t apply. However, contractual rules about misrepresentation do. The seller must accurately describe the car and not misrepresent it, that is tell you things about the car that are not true.

When you are buying from a private seller, you need to make sure you ask all the right questions about the car’s history. This covers things like service, repairs and recall history. Our Used Car checklist is a useful tool to use when looking to buy a used car – you can download it here. 

Buying from auction

If you buy at auction, your rights are even more limited. Although the Consumer Rights Act applies if you buy a car at auction, the auction houses can exclude the three main conditions of the Act if they display a notice to that effect on the wall.

At the end of the day, the best way to purchase a used car is to go to a dealer you can trust.

Visit and have a look at our stock and check out our warranty options for added peace of mind.