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Used car dealers on the right track

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 11/12/2013

Officers have spent the last six months visiting used car dealers and garages to offer advice and guidance to ensure that the local motor industry is on the right track when it comes to protecting the consumer, and the results are encouraging.

Over 50 businesses have received visits and of those only three were recorded as being non-compliant, meaning 94 per cent are correctly following their legal obligations. These three businesses received further advice in writing and, if it is considered necessary, will also receive a follow up visit. No criminal breaches that warranted action other than advice were found by officers.

The areas that dealers were advised on include (in order of frequency):

  1. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 – especially misleading omissions. This related to the need to carry out history checks on the vehicles and to disclose that information to the consumer.
  2. Due diligence – again, this related mainly to vehicle history checks and the need to keep detailed records.
  3. Business names and the E-Commerce Regulations – the need to display business ownership details and other particulars on premises, paperwork and websites.
  4. Safety checks and ensuring vehicles are sold in a roadworthy condition.
  5. Mileages and the use of disclaimers.
  6. Consumer complaint procedures and the civil legislation (Sale of Goods Act).
  7. The use of statements such as ‘sold as seen’ – potentially an attempt to restrict a consumer from exercising their statutory rights, which is a breach of the CPRs.
  8. Pricing and credit provision/advertising.

Mark Pullin, South Gloucestershire Council’s Strong, Safer Communities Manager, said: “Officers found dealers valued their customers and often went above and beyond their legal obligations to resolve any problems that arose. Only minor problems were found and many were resolved by the advice and guidance of officers.”

“It was disappointing to realise that approximately a quarter of those businesses visited were not aware they could seek advice from Trading Standards and many others simply didn’t think of the service when dealing with a complaint. Following the visits, our officers have been contacted for advice by at least four traders that had not approached the service before.”

Around a quarter of traders did use the opportunity to discuss consumer complaints they had received. In some cases this was to ask for guidance and in others it was to check that the action they took was fair and in line with their obligations under the Sale of Goods Act.

Trading Standards officers were also encouraged by the number of traders that took up the offer of advice leaflets to give customers when they purchased a used car as part of National Consumer Week in November. The leaflet advises the customer of their legal rights when buying a car from a used motor dealer, precautions to take before making a purchase and what to do if something goes wrong with the vehicle.

Car dealers interested in receiving these advice leaflets can request them from Trading Standards on 01454 868001 or by emailing

Consumers looking for advice before or after they purchase a vehicle can visit the Citizens Advice website or telephone the consumer helpline on 08454 040506.

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