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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I bought a second-hand car privately that became unusable

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I bought a second-hand car privately that became unusable after 5-weeks after I bought it. I reached out to the sellers who told me 'sold as seen', my local garage has told me that it should not have passed it's MOT. I contacted the garage who has said that they will not accept liability. I've reported the garage to DVSA who have told me I need to get the car to a garage for them to do a test on it but I cannot as the car no longer works. I am completely stuck!
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: UK
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Contacted the sellers who told me sold as seen, the garage where the car passed the MOT the day before I bought the car have said they will not accept liability. DVSA have asked me to get the car to a garage but I am unable to as the car does not work anymore and for them to do an MOT retest the car needs to work,
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

What condition did the seller describe the car to be in, prior to you buying it?

Ben Jones and 5 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Hi Ben, thank you for reaching out. The owners of the car told me it was in good working condition. The owner's husband actually builds cars. I got them to do an MOT on the car before I bought it to make sure I wasn't just buying a piece of metal but there were advisories on the MOT. 5 weeks after buy the car I was driving it and the brakes failed completely and I have to use my handbrake to not crash into another car. I then took the car to a local garage who looked at it and said there is no way the car should have passed the MOT 5 weeks ago. I got DVSA involved and they can only see the car if it's working. I had to tow the car back from the garage and it's been sitting outside my house doing nothing since end of July/early August. Since then the battery has died so DVSA said that they cannot help as the car isn't working. So I'm a bit stuck now. I bought the car through Auto Trader and this was the original advert:
MAKE SUZUKIMODEL JIMNYREGNUMBER LS52VNOPRICE 1795YEAR 2002MILEAGE 126000ADTEXT Good condition, Two new tyres, OZ alloy wheels, Service history, Toad Security Alarm, MOT to 26-08-21, Alarm, Alloy wheels, Electric door mirrors, Remote central locking, Airbags, Folding rear seats, In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD), Central locking, Electric Windows (Front), Immobiliser, Power steering, Alloy Wheels. 4 seats, Blue, 5+ owners, £1,795

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

When a person buys a vehicle from a private seller, their legal rights will be rather limited and will certainly not be as extensive as if it was bought from a dealer. The legal principle of ‘caveat emptor’ (also known as ‘buyer beware’) applies, where the buyer needs to satisfy themselves that they are happy with the description and condition of the car before they purchase it. There is no legal right to expect that the vehicle is of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose.

In general, private vehicle sales would only provide the buyer with rights in the following circumstances:

- False description - if the vehicle did not match the description given, whether in the advert or any subsequent discussions with the seller, it will amount to a breach of contract or misrepresentation. However, the seller does not have to reveal any issues with it, even if they knew about them. They simply should not make statements that will make the description false

- Roadworthiness - every vehicle must be roadworthy and if the condition of its brakes, tyres, steering or construction makes it unfit for the road, it will not be roadworthy, which is also a criminal offence

Any issues with the vehicle should initially be attempted to be resolved directly with the seller. If they are unwilling to co-operate, or no agreement can be reached and there is evidence that they had breached their obligation as listed above, further action can be considered. This could eventually lead to a claim for compensation, such as for any repair costs or for the refund value of the vehicle.

In terms of taking the car to an MOT station to get it checked, you may have to arrange for it to be towed or taken there and then any additional costs you can add to whatever you are trying to pursue.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Hello, I trust that everything has now been dealt with to your satisfaction and your original question has been resolved. If you have any further queries about it, please do not hesitate to get back to me on here. In the meantime, I wish you all the best.