Second Hand Car Sales: A Case Study
With over six million second hand motors changing hands every year in the UK, used car sales is a vibrant market. But it is also one fraught with risks, as this case study illustrates.
The Costly Dream CarMike, a quantity surveyor from Cardiff, had been after an Audi TT since he was 16, so when he spotted one for sale at a fair price in a private advert he leapt at the chance. After driving to Doncaster to meet its owner and take his dream car for a test spin, he was convinced enough to splash his cash and fulfil a motoring ambition.
However, it wasn’t long after taking it back to Wales that the Audi started to cause its new owner trouble. Within the short time in his care, the car has broken down twice, leaving Mike to foot repair bills of nearly £1,400. The vehicle is now immobile in Mike’s garage needing a re-wire that will cost a further £1,300, a sum he is unable to afford at present.
Bad HistoryWas Mike simply unlucky, with his new car’s run of misfortune a mere coincidence, or in reality had the Doncaster dealer knowingly offloaded a dodgy motor?
Investigations into the history of the car confirmed Mike’s worst fears. The vehicle turned out to have previously been involved in a serious accident and declared a Category D write-off. Not only that but it was revealed to still be on a hire purchase agreement, and so had had more previous owners than originally thought.
Buyer RightsAs any buyer that has been sold damaged goods, the natural response would be to complain and demand a refund. Unfortunately, the world of second hand car sales is a far less forgiving place for the consumer than the high street. Like so many before him, Mike soon discovered that he was left with very few rights when something goes wrong.
The only comeback to a bogus sale like this one would be if the seller had made a claim that later turned out to be false. So, in this case, if the advertisement had stated that the car had never been involved in an accident or only had one previous owner, for instance, then Mike could have used this as evidence in a complaint against the seller.
For this reason, it is strongly advised to keep any written record of the car’s condition at the point of sale. Not only can the advert be kept for future reference but you could also make a note of answers to any questions about the car condition, which should then be signed and dated by the seller.
Car History CheckMike learnt too late about the importance of a car data or HPI check before purchasing a second hand car. This would inform you about any outstanding finance on a vehicle, whether it has been written off, or been stolen.
A quarter of all used cars checked have outstanding payments on them - if the finance is unpaid when you purchase the car then you are at risk of losing it - one in four have potentially dangerous or illegal faults and nearly half would fail an MOT, according to the RAC.
The statistics are a stark warning to those considering buying a second hand car of importance of such checks. Spending a bit of money on one to begin with could save a lot of trouble in the long term.