Derbyshire: Advice to motorists buying second hand cars

Motorists can avoid losing money on cars sold in poor condition with advice from Derbyshire County Council. Second-hand cars consistently top the list of complaints from consumers to the council’s trading standards team. With 2,225 complaints since 2012 the issue comes way ahead of problems with mobile phones, building work, clothing, furniture and electrical goods. But motorists can check their consumer rights as well as how to check the history of vehicles with guidance from the county council. When people buy a used vehicle from a trader they are making a legally binding contract and have legal rights against the trader under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. The vehicle should be:

* Of a satisfactory quality - free from defects (bearing in mind the age of the car and the price paid), safe and useable for a reasonable

length of time.

* Fit for its intended purpose, or a purpose that you made known to the trader, and fit to be driven on the road.

* As described – the vehicle should match with any description applied to it.

When people buy a used vehicle from a private individual they don’t have the same rights as when buying from a trader, but a vehicle should not be misdescribed. For example, if an advertisement says ‘low mileage, one previous owner’, it must be correct.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “Whether people buy privately or from trader, they are entitled to expect that the vehicle is roadworthy, unless they and the seller clearly agree it is bought for scrap or for spares and repair.”

If a vehicle is faulty at the time of sale, buyers are legally entitled to request one of the following:

* A full refund

* Compensation

* Repair or replacement

* A reduction in price

Councillor Allen added: “There is always demand for cheap second-hand cars – particularly when budgets are tight. However, there is no excuse for selling misdescribed or unroadworthy vehicles. “That’s why we are helping people to make more informed purchases and avoid becoming victims of unscrupulous sellers.”

Buyers can view the full MOT history of a vehicle by visiting

People who have been sold potentially misdescribed or faulty vehicles can get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506