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Everything you need to know about your right to reject a car

Published 09 August 2017

Buying a new car should be an enjoyable and relatively easy experience, but what happens when something goes wrong?

We get plenty of questions from readers who experience problems with recently purchased cars - both new and used. So we've put together this guide to outline what you need to know about your consumer rights.

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 best piece of advice is to learn your rights. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is invaluable when it comes to repairing, replacing or rejecting faulty or missold cars.

What qualifies as a reason to reject a vehicle?

You only retain the right to reject the car if there is something fundamentally wrong with it. But you can reject it within six months of the date of purchase. 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. 

What if I think I've been mis-sold a car?

As an example, if you explain to a dealer that you only do short trips and have a low annual mileage, but they sell you a diesel car, this could be classed as mis-selling. Diesel vehicles are not suitable for short trips, they need to be driven around 15000 miles a year for the DPF to actively regenerate. If not, it can lead to expensive repairs.

>> How do I reject my car based on misleading claims about mpg?

Unfortunately, unless you have written evidence then you have no case for a refund. Emailing the dealer and outlining what your vehicle needs are will ensure you have proof of mis-selling if an issue arises

What happens if something goes wrong within 30 days of purchase?

A clause of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 - '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 for a full refund. After the first 30 days, within six months of the sale, the manufacturer has one opportunity to replace or repair the vehicle before you're entitled to a full or part refund. 

If you part-exchanged your old car for the new one, you will not get it back. Instead, you'll be entitled to the price of the part-exchanged car. The dealer can't charge for usage, wear and tear, collection of the vehicle or anything else.

>> Can I reject my faulty new car after two weeks?

After the 30 days, if you part-exchanged your old car, you'll get a cash value for the new car. In this instance, the dealer is able to claim a reduction in the value of the vehicle for factors like mileage covered.

What steps should you take if something goes wrong?

If you do purchase a vehicle that was faulty when it was bought, or if it is not as was advertised, then the best course of action is to contact the dealer or individual who sold you the car. 

The dealer does not owe you an immediate refund, they'll probably want to conduct their own assessment of the vehicle to see if you are owed your money back. If you are entitled to a refund, it must be given within 14 days of the trader agreeing that you are owed your money back.

Does this apply to the purchase of used cars?

Yes, regardless of whether it was bought from a franchised dealership or an independent garage. If there is a problem with your used car soon after you bought it - and that problem is not to be expected based on age or mileage - then you are entitled to a free repair or replacement as long as it's within 30 days.

Often the cost of a replacement will be disproportionate, so it will usually be a repair. If the car was bought from a dealer - and the fault was not stated to you - then you have the right to claim against them for breach of contract. If the car was not as described then this would fall under misrepresentation and also allows a claim to be made.

Does this apply to private car sales?

When buying privately you have fewer rights because certain parts of the Consumer Rights Act do not apply. For example, the car does not have to be in a satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. However, the seller must accurately describe the car, such as the number of previous owners. They must also not misrepresent it, for example not disclosing that it has been involved in an accident or providing a false service history.  

>> Can we reject a car because the dealer lied about the service history?

During the first six months it then becomes the responsibility of the seller to prove that the problem wasn't there when they sold it, rather than it being up to the buyer to prove that is was there. If the individual refuses to accept your rejection, you will need to take legal action to reject the vehicle. However, this is expensive and there's no guarantee that you will win.

Why rejecting a car shouldn't be your first move

If you discover a fault with a car you’ve just bought, don’t immediately reject it. The fault may be relatively easy to fix. You’ll save time and hassle getting it repaired, rather than trying to reject it. The dealer may also not agree that the vehicle should be rejected. If they refuse to accept your rejection, you will need to take legal action to pursue the matter.

Have you had a problem with a recently bought car? Tell us about it in the comments or let us know here.

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