I viewed a used car in the dark. I bought it but have since discovered cosmetic issues. What now?

I just bought a 3-year-old car from a main Toyota dealer. It was top money. The advert did not give any indication of the condition but you would expect a decent condition for a car with only 16,300 miles on the clock. The inside was covered in scratches on the plastic and the door sills. I've never seen anything like it before. I viewed it in the dark and all seemed ok. The paintwork felt like sandpaper. What is my best course of action, if any, as I signed on the dotted line 7 days ago?

Asked on 26 October 2020 by mikewiththemmtyaris

Answered by Georgia Petrie
You may be able to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act, however, the fact that the issues are cosmetic may mean that's not an option. I'd also contact the Toyota dealer first as rejecting a car can be quite a process, and the dealer may refuse your rejection. Essentially, the 'early right to reject' states that you have a legal right to reject a vehicle that doesn't meet the specified standards within 30 days. The 2015 Consumer Rights Act theoretically gives you the statutory right to reject a new or used car (or anything else) within 30 days of purchase if any fault is found. However, this has still to be verified in the courts. A reputable new or used car dealer may have also signed up to 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' (arbitration) under an Industry Code of Practice.

But, you only retain the right to reject the car if there is something fundamentally wrong with it. This includes faults that were present - or developing - when you bought the car, or it was received in a condition that does not match what you were told. Cosmetic issues or minor faults aren't usually reasons to reject a vehicle. These sorts of issues should be dealt with under warranty if you have one. So it'll depend on how the car's condition was described.

We would suggest chatting some more with the dealer about the issue, as well as discussing some form of goodwill gesture to make up for the hassle. However, considering you saw the car (regardless of the fact it was dark) and then signed it after seeing it - you may have lost the see rights as you saw the condition yourself. If the dealer is unwilling to give you your money back or figure out another course of action, then you can try to move onto the next steps.

Consider contacting the Motor Ombudsman or the Financial Ombudsman. You could also contact Trading Standards if you feel that the dealer has breached the Consumer Rights Act. An engineer’s inspection can also be useful, but you'd have to pay for that yourself. The final route should be court because it's very costly and there's no guarantee you will win even with a solicitor. But if all else fails, that's the option you're left with.
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