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6000 used car complaints reported a month.

6000 used car complaints reported a month – AMENDED, apologies please discard earlier version

A new campaign has been launched urging people who thinking about buying a used car to ‘check it, don’t regret it.’

Renfrewshire Council’s Trading Standards & Licensing Team and Citizens Advice Scotland, are steering Renfrewshire residents in the right direction this month when it comes to buying a used car.

Second-hand cars are the most complained about product to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. Nationally, the helpline receives around 6,000 complaints each month with faulty cars being among the most common problems. renfrewshire logo

The organisations have teamed up to urge people buying a used car to ‘check it, don’t regret it’ by taking simple steps to assess whether it is safe, legal and what it seems.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convenor of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board said, “Buying a second-hand car can be bit of a bumpy road. Whether you have £500 or £5,000 to spend, it can be difficult to make sure the car you buy is ‘as described’ by the dealer.

“If consumers don’t carry out appropriate checks they can find themselves out of pocket or with a string of unexpected expenses. They may even find they’ve bought a car which isn’t safe or roadworthy. Renfrewshire residents buying a used car should follow our top tips to ensure they make an informed purchase.”

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said, “Last year over seven million used cars were sold in the UK. As Citizens Advice’s figures highlight, too many consumers end up footing the bill when their car needs repairs or, worse still, ends up on the scrap heap just weeks after purchase.

“Consumers need to know what to look out for when buying a used car. The ‘Check it, don’t regret it’ campaign during National Consumer Week is an excellent way of making people think about some of the basic checks they should be doing before parting with their hard earned money and stop those traders looking to exploit buyers in their tracks.”

Nationally the Citizens Advice consumer service helped with over 84,000] problems with second hand motors in the last 12 months – making it the most complained about problem to the Citizens Advice consumer service. Nationally drivers spent over £363 million on these complained about cars.

An analysis of 2,519 complaints about second hand cars, made to the Citizens Advice consumer service in the first two weeks of September 2013, finds 83% were about faults, of which:

– more than half (53%) developed faults within a month of buying the car

– 4 out 5 cars required essential repairs

– 139 cars were worthy of the scrap heap.

Essential repairs include smoke emerging from the engine, corroded break pipes and snapped clutch.

Problems with second hand cars are a massive issue for consumers and many of them lose out because they don’t know their rights. On average, consumers have to fork out £425 each, around £85 million a year in total, because they have had to fix faults on newly bought second hand cars which should have been repaired by the dealer.

Top tips for buying a used car

* Check the MoT certificate – indicates if the car is roadworthy. You can also check MoTs online at The website allows you to view a vehicle’s MoT history, including the recorded mileage at the time of the test,

* Check service history – shows if the car has been maintained,

* Check V5 registration document – shows if the car is stolen,

* Check if car is a write off – helps you know what you are buying,

* Check finance history – ensures the car doesn’t have an outstanding hire purchase agreement,

* Test drive and walk around to check – for signs the car isn’t what it seems,

* Get an engineer’s check – shows condition of the car and any hidden dangers,

* Check price value guide – indicates a reasonable price to pay,

* Check the car has not been recalled – details of all recalls and safety issues are listed on the Vehicle & Operators Services Agency (VOSA) website

Under the Sale of Goods Act, when consumers buy a car from a car dealer or an online car dealer it must be:

* Of satisfactory quality.

* Fit for purpose

* As described

If a car doesn’t meet any of these points, the consumer will usually have the right to:

* Repair.

* Replacement.

* Refund.

Clearly the age of the car and its mileage will have a bearing on the remedy available. If a consumer buys a car from a trader online or over the phone, they also have the right to a ‘cooling-off’ period. This means they have seven working days once the car has been delivered to cancel their order and get their money back.

If a consumer buys a car from a private seller or at a car auction, they have fewer rights. The car only has to:

* Match the description given by the seller.

* Be theirs to sell (eg, the car isn’t stolen and doesn’t have any outstanding finance on it).

Some car traders try to use disclaimers such as ‘sold as seen’ or ‘no refunds’ to limit a consumer’s rights. This is against the law and any trader that tries this should be reported to Consumer Direct, the Government’s consumer advice service.

If you have a problem with a second hand car, you can get help from the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or visit

For more information contact Renfrewshire Council’s Trading Standards & Licensing Team on 0300 300 0380 or by email on