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Take Care When Striking a Deal for a Used Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 22 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Take Care When Striking A Deal For A Used Car

When buying a used car the golden rule is never sign or pay for anything until completely satisfied. Before striking a deal make sure the car is mechanically sound and has not been stolen, written off by an insurer or have any outstanding finance on it.

When a used car is bought privately, there is very little legal protection if the car does not come up to scratch, so have the car inspected thoroughly and ask all the right questions before paying for it. Invest in a data check to ensure there is no outstanding finance on the car and that it does not have a dodgy history.

The only legal protection given when buying used cars privately is that the seller must have the right to sell the car, the car should not be misrepresented and it should match its description. Some unscrupulous dealers will pose as private sellers, so watch out.

Problems Once the Deal is Done

If there are problems once the deal has been struck, it is only possible to make a claim against a seller if he can be found and has the means to meet the claim. With that in mind, view the car at the seller’s home address, not on any street corner, and try to get a home telephone number too. Check the paperwork and ensure the seller is the person named on the registration document.

There is less risk and more legal protection when buying from a dealer, but be realistic. Once a deal has been struck, the dealer will be responsible for sorting out a buyer’s complaint if the car is not of satisfactory quality based on its age, mileage and price. If there is a dispute, a court of law will consider whether a reasonable person would deem the car to be of satisfactory quality, so bear this in mind.

When the car does not meet the required standards, the buyer may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement car of equivalent value. For additional peace of mind, a buyer may receive a warranty from the dealer or manufacturer. This will cover certain defects but will be limited by time or by miles covered and may require the car to be serviced regularly. Read the small print to see what is and what is not covered.

Little Legal Protection

Auctions provide very little legal protection. If a car is found to have faults once the deal has been done, the auction house will be liable only in the unlikely event that the auctioneer misled the buyer. If the seller did not have the right to sell the car, any claim must be made against the seller, if he can be found.

It is possible to purchase insurance or guarantees from certain auction houses, but these are limited, making it important to read the small print. Ultimately, rights will depend on the conditions of sale, although a business selling at auction does have a responsibility to ensure the car is roadworthy and in a condition fit for sale, whereas claims made on behalf of a private seller regarding a car’s quality will not cover the car. In other words, if the car turns out to be a dud, the previous owner bears no responsibility.

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