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12 May 2022, 12:27

Your rights when buying a used car from a dealer

Buying a used car can sometimes be a huge financial burden. But the good news is that you could be entitled to certain protections if something goes wrong.

If you find out your used car is faulty after purchase, your rights will depend on where you bought the car from and how it was described to you before you made the purchase.

It’s important to note that your rights when buying a used car from a dealer are enshrined in the law. You’re less protected if you bought the car from a private seller or at auction. Read on to find out more.

Your rights when buying a used car: the Consumer Rights Act 2015

When you buy a used car from a dealership, you’re covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This means that, within 30 days of purchase, you’re legally entitled to your money back if the car is not:

  • ‘Of satisfactory quality’
  • ‘Fit for purpose’
  • ‘As described’


The Consumer Rights Act provides what is referred to as a ‘statutory warranty’ for used cars. This provides a 30-day period during which you can take the car back for a full refund if it doesn’t fulfil the requirements above. After these 30 days and up until six months after purchase, if you find a fault with the car, you have the right to ask the dealer to pay for repairs to the vehicle.

If the car cannot be repaired, you can ask for a refund, but note that the refund may be less than what you paid depending on the amount of time that’s passed since you bought the car. The automatic legal protection provided by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 expires after six months.

However, most dealers will offer warranties that extend beyond this period, some up until 12 months. This can either be included in the price of the car or be bought for an added extra price. As warranties vary between dealers, it’s best to check what you’re entitled to -  and for how long - before you purchase.

Your rights if you part-exchanged your old car

If you’re requesting a refund and you part exchanged your old car as part of the deal, make sure you ask for your old car back, of the value of it if it’s already been sold.

How your payment method affects your rights when buying a used car from a dealer

If you pay by credit card, you have some protection if something goes wrong. Your credit card provider has a legal obligation to protect purchases of more than £100. So you could get your money back this way if there’s a problem. If you pay by cash, you’re not covered by this kind of protection.

What if you just changed your mind?

The Consumer Act 2015 covers you for faulty or ‘not as described’ products, not if you change your mind. So you won’t necessarily have an automatic right to your money back if you do so. However, it’s best to check the dealer’s refund policy before purchasing the car, as some will allow you to return a used car even if it’s not faulty within a certain period, while others will not.

Your rights when buying a used car from a private seller

If you find a fault with your car after buying from a private seller, you have far fewer rights. That’s why it’s so important to check your car properly before purchasing.

If a car isn't as described, then you're covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which means you can contact the seller and they may pay for the repairs in some cases. If a seller refuses to, you can ask for the difference in the value of what you paid vs what the car is worth. And if they refuse to pay up, you can take further measures such as writing a letter of complaint and then seeking alternative dispute resolution.

Tips to make sure your rights are protected

Your rights when buying a used car will be influenced by the type of dealership you buy from. So it’s important to make sure you’re buying a car from a trusted dealer. Here are some tips on how to make sure you’re buying from the right place:

  • The firm has a good reputation and good reviews on Google/Trustpilot
  • It has a connection with the Retail Motor Industry Federation or the Scottish Motor Trade Association) or follows The Motor Ombudsman's code of practice
  • Its cars have been inspected by a qualified third party
  • Ask the dealership as many questions as you can.

So now you’re aware of your rights when buying a used car, browse hundreds of fantastic used car offers with dealers across the country.





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