When you buy a new or used car, the last thing you want is for something to be wrong with your vehicle. However, this does unfortunately happen from time to time, and it’s best to know where you stand if anything should go wrong. Thankfully, there are guidelines in place – The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 – protecting you as the customer.

So, if you are experiencing issues that prevent your new car from operating as it should – you are legally entitled to have the car fixed or refunded. However, it’s important to be 100% sure that your situation falls within the remit of the guidelines. Here’s everything you need to know:

What is the Consumer Rights Act of 2015?

The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 was introduced in October 2015 and applies to any new or used car bought from a vehicle trader. This includes cars bought from a car dealership franchise and independent garage, but importantly not those bought privately via an individual or at a car auction.

This piece of legislation outlines the main criteria under which a car can be returned by you to receive a full refund. When you buy a car from a franchise or dealership: it must be of ‘satisfactory quality’, be sold ‘as described’ and be ‘fit for purpose’. If there is any breach of these conditions you can return the car within 30 days and receive a full refund. This includes any fault to the vehicle which has not been caused by you during that 30-day period time.

If there is a fault with your car, and it occurs after this 30-day period but before you have had ownership of the vehicle for more than six months, the vehicle trader must correct the fault. If they are unable to fix the vehicle, you can then return the car (note: the refund will however consider any use of the car up to this point).

In both cases, a replacement may also be a viable option. So, if you buy a car and really like the model, it might be more beneficial to ask the dealer for a replacement of the same model as opposed to pushing for a refund.

What counts as a fault with your vehicle?

This is where things get slightly more complicated. The basics of the matter is that anything which prevents your car from operating properly is a fault. For example, your engine cutting out, your windows not working or something wrong with the wheel axis, are all considered major faults. This would entitle you to a full refund.

If there are lesser issues, such as the seats not being able to be adjusted, the headlight bulb ceasing to work, or a problem with air conditioning (that was not specified on your purchase of the vehicle) your dealer is obliged to fix them. However, these issues do not entitle you to a refund.

Should there be any debate between parties over whether a fault is major or minor – we advise seeking legal advice and/or support.

How do you go about returning a car or having it repaired?

The first thing to do is make sure your complaint is recognised. ‘Recognised’ simply means calling up your dealer directly and informing them of the major or minor faults with the vehicle. This is standard protocol and gives you the reassurance that they know of your complaint. To back this up, you should always put your case in writing as well, this can be via email or post. We recommend email as the communications between you and the dealer are recorded and can be used for any legal procedures, if necessary.

If you have bought a car on finance, you follow exactly the same procedure but (depending on circumstances) the dealer will contact your finance lender on your behalf. To safeguard yourself, it’s always best to ask to be kept aware of these communications (via CC). You can also follow up with the finance lender yourself, if you wish.

When you buy a new or used car, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of something going wrong with the vehicle. In the unfortunate case that this does happen, it’s always best to know your options and have a good understanding of The Consumer Rights Act of 2015.

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Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 12.4%, annual interest rate (fixed) 12.36%, 47 monthly payments of £196.44 followed by 1 payment of £206.44 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £1,939.12, total amount payable is £9,439.12.

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