I was sold a car that turns out to be seriously damaged - what can I do?

I bought a 2006 Alfa Romeo 147 with a mileage of about 100000 in October. About a week ago my car started to make a loud noise so I took it to a garage yesterday and was told that the whole front exhaust needs to be replaced. That part alone will cost about £450. Then they noticed some pink rust under my front bonnet, as well as a dent. I had noticed that my water was a bit low the week before and had refilled it, and now i was told that i shouldn't have had to refill my water so soon after buying a car. They reckon that someone before me had hit the pavement so hard that they had damaged the radiator and now its leaking water, but considering that its pink and rusted they think that the car was already damaged before purchase. The history of the car shows that in 2017 my car failed dramatically, and some of the things it failed on are what appear to be damaged now. I tried to contact the garage who I bought it from to request them to fix it, but they shot me down and refuse to do so. I have also been advised to talk to Trading Standards. Would you recommend fighting them and trying to get either a refund or discount, or spending hundreds of pounds and fix it?

Asked on 4 December 2018 by Roxanne Martin

Answered by Honest John
By not informing you of the prior damage, the dealer who sold you the car is in breach of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations May 2008 (CPRs), which incorporate The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 and contain a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices and, in particular prohibitions against misleading actions, misleading omissions and aggressive commercial practices. The Regulations are enforceable through the civil and criminal courts.

The CPRs create an offence of misleading omissions which would not previously have been an offence if the consumer had not asked the right questions. So if a salesman knows a car has, for example, been badly damaged and repaired and does not tell the customer, he could later be held liable if the customer subsequently discovered that the car had been damaged and repaired. So, if you are prepared to take the matter to Small Claims you will almost inevitably win your case. More here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/ Small Claims here: www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money / But your problem might be that dealers working this end of the market often do not comply with County Court Judgements so it you get a ruling in your favour you need to pay an extra £80 for a High Court Sheriff's Enforcement Order that leaves the defendant with no right of appeal. Even then, if the dealer has no assets that can be seized, you may not get your money back.

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