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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 61658
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Can I return a second hand car if I'm not happy with it? I

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Can I return a second hand car if I'm not happy with it? I bought the car with a 3 month warranty, however I have been having ongoing issues with it - I've taken it back to fix an issue with the engine once already and am stilling having issues - they're significant issues with the engine and traction/stability control - which I believe make it not fit for purpose - and want to know what my rights are. If they come back and say there isn't anything they can do - there's nothing to fix etc. Or that they've fixed it and keep having issues - what can I do?

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
That's fine. :)
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Let me know what you need. Thanks

When exactly did you buy it and how long after this did the car first present you with an issue?

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
I bought it in September on the 26th. And even on the drive home - it felt not quite right, but the first time I had a full on issue with it - when the check engine light came on was on the 20th October. The AA guy who came and checked the car on the side of the road, said it was an issue that needs to be sorted properly and under the warranty. I took the car back to them that week and they 'sorted' it, but I've continued to have issues with it. But incidents were minor and I wasn't sure if I was imagining things, but this weekend, I had dramatic issues with it again and knew it isn't all in my head. I've had a friend use a gadget to download the error log from the car and there are tonnes of them, including errors relating to the issues I've been having - at least as far as I can tell.
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
I don't use it to commute to work, so had only been driving it at the weekends.

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
grest, thanks again

Many thanks for your patience. When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a dealer they will have certain rights under consumer law, specifically the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which requires goods sold by a business seller to be:

  • of satisfactory quality – they must not be faulty or damaged when received
  • as described – they must match any description given at the time of purchase
  • fit for purpose – they should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for


If the vehicle does not meet the above requirements, the buyer will have certain legal remedies against the seller. Also note that there is no protection against fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage, faults that were pointed out at the time of sale or if you change your mind and no longer want the goods. The age and value of the vehicle will also be relevant and the expectations of older vehicles will certainly be lower.


The rights against the seller are:


1. Reject the vehicle and request a refund - this must be done within 30 days of purchase or delivery.


2. Repair or replacement – this can be done within the initial 30 days or after, if that deadline has passed and a rejection is no longer possible. If a repair is not possible or has failed, the vehicle can still be rejected for a refund, or if the consumer wants to keep it, they can ask for a price reduction. If asking for a refund or a replacement, the current value of the vehicle will be used, taking into account any depreciation in value for usage by the buyer since purchase.


It is also important to note that the law assumes that any issued which develop within the first 6 months of buying the car were present at the time of purchase, unless the seller can prove otherwise. If they develop more than 6 months after purchase, it is for the buyer to prove that they were there at the time of sale.


Based on which option you are wishing to exercise, you must contact the seller and advise them. If they refuse to discharge their legal obligations under consumer laws, you should remind them of these as per the details above. If they still appear reluctant to assist, write to them one final time, warn them that they have 7 days to comply and inform them that if they fail to honour your legal rights, you will have no choice but to report them to Trading Standards and start legal proceedings to seek compensation.


Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
That's very helpful, thank you. So just to be clear - it's obviously now outside of the 30 day initial period so I can't reject it and ask for a refund quite so simply - though the first incident happened within the inital 30 days.

So as the issue has already been 'fixed' - I've already had to take the car back to be fixed once, but this has obviously failed to actually sort the issues, am i able to reject it now purely based on the fact that I'm still having the same issues? Especially if they are going to drag their heels or be uncooperative about fixing it?

And if I give them the chance to try and fix it again and the issue still doesn't get solved/fixed/resolved I can still then reject the car on that basis and ask for a full refund?
Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Just also to be clear - I insisted on a 3 month warranty period when I purchased the car. So it is still covered by that.

The warranty is entirely separate to your legal rights above. As you have asked for a repair which has now failed you can still go back to them and reject it for a refund based on that, even if outside of the initial 30 days

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