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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Brought second hand fiat end of April, recently began to have

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Brought second hand fiat end of April, recently began to have problems with it and did an online car history and found it was written off at the end of February 2013, the whole engine had to be rebuilt - am I liable to get any money back because the accident was not disclosed at time of sale?
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Was this purchased from a private seller or a dealer?


It was from a garage - would that count as a dealer?

Ben Jones :

Yes it would. When was the car purchased?


We brought it from a garage which was selling it on behalf of the previous owner


it was purchased at the end of April 2014

Ben Jones :

Was anything said about the car at the time, for example did they claim it was not a write off, did you ask them that question yourself, etc?


We didn't ask if it had been written off, as they didn't volunteer any information, when we asked why it was being sold they said it was because the owner needed a larger car due to pregnancy

Ben Jones :

What were the problems with it - was it actually roadworthy, or were these issues which did not affect its roadworthiness?


when bought it had passed its MOT, however since, the driver door handle came away completely and there are issues with the turbo cellonoid, engine losing power, paint on bonnet chipping, computer failure on the engine.

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please


no problem thank you

Ben Jones :

It is not unlawful to sell a previously written off vehicle, although there are certain factors which need to be considered.

First of all the seller must not have misled you into buying the car in question, for example they cannot claim that this was never written off or given you any other information which would have made it appear like this was not a write off. However, if this was never mentioned or raised by you then they would not have done anything wrong by selling a previous write off.

The next issue is whether the repairs were done properly or if they made the car not roadworthy. It is a criminal offence to sell an unroadworthy car so if the repairs meant that the car was still in such a condition then you can pursue the seller. However from what you have described, the faults are not things which would make it unroadworthy.

Finally, you will have certain rights under consumer law, specifically the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPR) and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SGA).

Under the CPR, the following business practices are deemed unfair if they prompted you to make a decision to buy the car in question:

  • Giving false information about the vehicle or deceiving the buyer through false advertising

  • Giving insufficient information to the buyer, for example leaving out important information about the condition of the car

Failure to adhere to the CPR rules will be unlawful and may even amount to a criminal offence so if you believe that the dealer acted in contravention of these rules you can bring this up with them when you contact them about this.

In addition, you will have certain rights under the SGA, which states that when you buy an item from a business seller it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match its description. If the car does not satisfy any of these, the dealer will be responsible.

They will only be liable for faults that were present at the time the vehicle was sold, even if they become apparent later on. However, they will not be liable for fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage or any issues that were brought to the buyer’s attention before the sale. The age and value of the vehicle will also be relevant and the expectations of older vehicles will certainly be lower.

If the vehicle does not meet the above requirements, the buyer can reject the vehicle and return it to the dealer requesting a refund. However, this will need to be done within a ‘reasonable period, which is usually 3-4 weeks after purchase.

If the buyer is too late to reject the vehicle, which I would say you are in this case, they could instead request that it is repaired or replaced without causing them significant inconvenience. The dealer may only reject a repair or replacement if it is impossible or disproportionate in the circumstances. If that happens, you are entitled to get it repaired elsewhere and claim back the repair costs, although there is an obvious risk in doing so as there is no guarantee in getting any of the money back.

If the dealer refuses to resolve this issue or accept any liability, you could take legal action against them. However, before going down that route you should try and resolve the issue directly with them by sending them a formal letter specifying how you want this matter resolved and giving them 7 days to respond. Advise them that if they fail to get back to you or deal with this in a satisfactory manner, you will have no other option but to report them to Trading Standards and issue legal proceedings to seek compensation.

Ben Jones :

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

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