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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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We bought a second hand car 4 days ago. It has already developed

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We bought a second hand car 4 days ago. It has already developed several faults, so we decided we'd rather return it to the dealer and get a refund. We called the dealer but he has refused to give us our money back. He has offered to look at the car and attempt to solve the problems, but he has also been aggressive and abusive on the phone to us, so we'd rather just take the car back and get our refund. I believe we're within our rights to have a refund but if the dealer refuses, what can we do?

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Where did you do the deal?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.




We bought the car from a dealer called XXXXX XXXXX Cars, in Penarth, Wales


But was it by distance or in store?

Don't panic if I don't come back immediately. I think my ipad might run out of battery soon but I'll be back soon.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



We saw the car online on Autotrader then went to see it and paid for it via bank transfer.


Do you know if he routinely sells by distance please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Don't know, sorry.


We didn't buy it by distance - we went to see it and bought it from him at his garage.

No problem

Did you agree cooling off period?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How do you mean?

When you bought the car did you agree that you had a certain period of time to cancel?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, we didn't.


We got a 3 month warranty when we bought the car, and the dealer has offered to fix the problems under that warranty, but we would rather return the car and get a full refund.



Thats bad news I'm afraid.

How bad are the faults and how much did you pay please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Why is it bad news? I understood that under the Sale of Goods Act, we were entitled to a full refund?


We're not sure exactly what the faults are - but 3 different warning lights came on 2 days after we bought the car, indicating there are serious problems with the engine's management system.


We paid £3,250 for the car.

I do completely see why you are aggrieved over this but ultimately we are all hampered by the law to some degree.
This is a purchase to which the Sale of Goods Act applies. That will mean under S14 SGA it must be ʻfit for purposeʼ. That does not mean perfect but it does mean reasonably good with reference to the price you paid for it, its age and history. This is a fairly recent purchase and it wasnʼt an insignificant price. Clearly it is faulty and they seem to accept that by offering a repair so that should be no difficulty.
You do have to reject anything you purchase under the SGA which has a fault if you have not already ʻacceptedʼ it. What it means to ʻacceptʼ an item depends on the nature of the purchase, the price of the item, the length of time youʼve had it.
It is possible that a Court could say you have accepted this vehicle given that youʼve had it for two several or so before it was returned. There are cases that allowed for much longer periods of time but generally they involved fairly catastrophic failings with the vehicle.
The fault was, however, discovered within the first six months of sale so there is a presumption in your favour that it existed at the time of sale.
You do have a right to demand either a repair or a like for like exchange. The dealer can only refuse one or the other if he can show that the remedy is impossible or disproportionate. He is probably relying on the latter.
However, under the SGA, if he fails to act within a reasonable time or causes you unreasonable inconvenience, you are entitled to ask for rescission of the contract and a full refund or a price reduction.
You do seem to be describing nearly a month long repair which is significant so you could try to claim a refund on that basis.
Ultimately if they refuse though, they cannot be forced to provide you with an exchange. All you can sue for is damages in default.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for that info.


If we accept his offer to try and repair the faults, but other faults develop after this - are we still entitled to return the car, under the SGA?


Or do we forfeit those rights by accepting the initial repair offer?




You don't forfeit your rights completely but its fair to say it gets harder to reject it the longer you leave it.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If we do reject the offer to repair the car, would our next step be to pursue this through the small claims court?

Would we have a strong case (i.e. be likely to win)?



You have a fairly unanswerable claim for damages but it would be irresponsible of me to tell you that you have a strong case to reject the car outright.
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