Buying a Used Car from a Dealer

There are more complaints about used cars than any other purchase. In fact, in 2019, Citizens Advice said it was contacted regarding 57,000 cases of issues with used vehicles. Eight in 10 of these complaints were about defective or broken vehicles, while 7% of customers said they had been misled. So it’s no wonder buying a used car can be nerve-wracking. Buying a used car from a dealer can be more expensive than buying one privately, but you have more legal protection, and by using an RAC Approved Dealer, you’ll have added peace of mind knowing that all vehicles are prepared to our exacting standards giving you confidence in your purchase.

Follow our guide to help you when you come to buying your next used car from a dealer.

Choosing a used car dealer

It can be difficult to know which dealer to buy from. Look for used car dealers who have their cars inspected by an independent engineer or motoring organisation, such as the RAC, as well as dealers with a trade association sign, meaning they follow a code of practice. Avoid dealers displaying ‘sold as seen’ or ‘no refund’ signs.

Used car dealers’ responsibilities

Car dealers must adhere to the Sale of Goods Act, which states that any item you buy must be:

  • Of satisfactory quality – of a standard you would expect considering its age, make, model, history, mileage and price
  • Fit for purpose – you must be able to use the vehicle for the purposes you would normally expect, and if you want to use it for something specific, such as towing, tell the dealer
  • As described – if the dealer or the advert says there is a CD player or heated seats, they should be present and work properly
  • Roadworthy – the Road Traffic Act makes it illegal for anyone to sell a car that is not fit and safe to drive.

Dealers are not liable for fair wear and tear, your misuse of the car or accidental damage you cause.

Your rights when buying a used car from a dealer

You could claim a full or partial refund from the seller if a fault you were told about turns out to be worse that described or if you discover an undisclosed problem.

If you're buying online from a dealer, you have the same rights as you would if you bought in person from a dealership. The Distance Selling Regulations give you the additional right to cancel your order within seven working days and receive a full refund within 30 days.

Contact us today

Find further information on RAC Approved Dealer or speak to one of our advisers on 0330 159 1111.