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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.

>> Everything you need to know about to DPFs

>> Our guide to parking rights

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


   on 31 August 2017

I bought a1 year old Nissan Note from a Nissan garage and asked who was the first owner.I was told that it came from Nisson Direct.When I asked to see the Log book I was told that Nissan Direct still had the Log book.When I recieved the Log book it stated the previous keeper was Hertz rental.Have i grounds to reject the car.I would not have bought the car if i had known it was ex rental. Thank you. Andrew Price.

Honestjohn    on 15 September 2017

Ex rental is not a problem except in some people's minds. The fact that the dealer lied might be a reason to reject the car, but he may counter that there is nothing wrong with an ex-rental and at least 50% of all cars offered for resale at less than 12 month old will be ex-rental anyway.


Barbara Bellamy    on 16 September 2017

I've helped my daughter buy her first car, which was a requirement for her job. I stressed that it had to be reliable for this reason. 11 days in and warning lights appeared. The local dealership took a look at it and found a cracked radiator, leaking head gasket, cracked alternator belt, brake fluid needed replacing, OStrack rod end rubbers were split and rear wiper split.

The dealer couldn't even pick it up as his tow truck was off the road so we sorted that and rejected the car as not as described.

Dealer's reply, We don't do refunds.

I've had to go out and buy my daughter another car on credit so she can do her job. More insurance and tax! (She has no credit history yet).

He "fixed" the car in under 24 hours and I came home yesterday to find it parked on my drive with the keys pushed through my door.

Do we have a legitimate case?

Ozer akin    on 2 December 2017

I bought 9 months old Peugeot 308 couples of moths After squkiy noise from breaks,fault on satnav,noise from heater fan.Dealer clean breaks 2wice also said it's common problem.Update satnav and said no fault on heater.Then vant to charge me for updating satnav again and cleaning breaks.What can l do still car under warranty and Peugeot says only 6000 miles break warranties!Also corrosion top of the car Peugeot refused to except responsibility.Also complained finance companies but dealer said they do ones repairs not doing again free.

Tn    on 7 February 2018

I bought a brand new car from dealer with finance and collected it 5 days ago. It is a manual VW. On the way home after collection, I feel gear 2 and 4 are very difficult to get in, unlike other manuals I had. there was also a petrol like smell in cabin. thought it was new car smell but gear doesn't seems right and thought i will tell them when they call on day 3. on day 2, wife called me from school pick up, car smelt so much and she was shaken because she thinks it might catch fire. car was parked in school car park on a slope. i went there and it really smelt. we brought the car back home and called the dealer first thing in the morning (day 3 after purchase). he said nothing to worry about but bring in if i want to check. i thought it is not right for a 2 days old car to behave like this. wife doesn't dare to get on that car anymore. so i sent an e mail to dealer asking it to be collected and to let us buy another car. i wasn't aware of consumer act that time. they came and collected it and left us with courtesy car, but told that vehicle was for investigation. haven't heard from them for next few days. i guess they are repairing or replacing the gearbox and clutch, we don't want it back since we ordered a new car. so i sent 2nd e mail saying we will reject the car but proposed to buy another car instead of refund. they didn't get back to me yet. now i am aware of consumer act 2015 after reading articles and wondering if i am still covered in that scope if i ask for another vehicle or should i be asking refund instead to be covered by law. i proposed to buy another new vehicle to give them a way out instead of giving me the repaired car in new car price. please advise me what are my rights and which steps i should take.many thanks.

   on 14 March 2018

we went into a garage and bought a new hybrid car, we told them several times that the car was being used for short 3 mile journeys and we wanted to utilise the hybrid system in the car, they said this would be ideal for the car, the problem is that it doesnt use the hybrid system at all as the car needs to warm up the engine and the batterys before it will work at all, the problem with this is that the 90% of journeys we do by time we get to the desination the batterys are still not warmed up so it never uses the hybrid system like they told us it would but uses the engine all the time , and even when the batterys are full the engine and batterys are cold so it never works .

surely this is mis selling a car as when we went into the garage they told us that we could do most of the journeys electrically only using the engine when then batterys needed charging yet the battery is always charged and the engine still runs.
the mpg was suppose to be 74mpg we expected something like 55-60 mpg yet because its alwys the engine its more like 42mpg

we knew within 10 days of this and spoke to them they told us to try it when it was not so cold yet even now with 7-10 degrees its still the same. by time we get to the desination the batterys are not warm enough to work the hybrid side of the system.

we are totally disgusted at why they would sell us a car that wouldnt match the needs we asked beofre buying and why they just sold us anything they could..

any help?

   on 18 March 2018

Hi I bought a second hand bmw 5 series from a dealer and it broke down within 2 weeks it just came to a stop with no warning it had to be towed back to dealer and was told it was a cam sensor , but unfortunately it ended up being the timing chain and they said the clutch needed replacing too, I didnt give permission for them to repair it and have lost all confidence with the car the after all I have read about the timing chain going on the bmw's . I have told them I want a refund under the right to reject can you tell me what my rights are as the car was £13,000. thanks

Carol Forsyth McCabe    on 27 January 2019

Does this apply to a vehicle (van) that was bought for the purpose of work for a sole trader? Also, once we officially reject vehicle (developed a major fault within days of purchase and needs a new engine) what is insurance situation while we await it to be collected (as we have rejected it I understand that we are no longer allowed to drive it.)?

Angela Dean    on 17 February 2019

I bought a 2011 VW Golf 2011 74500 miles
From a dealer who is RAC and Autotrader Approved
garage this give me piece of mind as it’s been a while since I bought a car to this value to which I paid £5790
Cash I was assured that I had a RAC warranty for 30 days
If I wanted to extend this I could purchase this with the dealer direct but had to be done before the 30days ended.
After driving the car home at a steady 60mph all was ok it was very windy and I could here like a what can only be deceived as a sound similar to when u blow the top of a glass bottle ! I thought cause it has 2 exhaust this must be why! It was only when I reached 70mph on the Tuesday did not only the noise which sounded like a whining and I also had a awful vibration underneath my feet ! I emailed the garage that evening to advise them about the noise vibration and that I didn’t feel safe and that I was contacting the RAC the next morning to have it checked as I was extremely worried to drive it. The RAC came as I have cover with my insurance as it turns out I’m not covered by a RAC warranty! The RAC took the Car back to the garage and issued a report saying suspect gearbox bearing noise ! The garage have now had the car some 5. Days and I have been advised it’s with a specialist I asked for details of were the car was being repaired as I wanted to request for a report of fault and repairs done.
since then I’ve had no reply to any text messages I did tell the manager that I was concerned to drive the car agin and under the consumer rights act I was entitled to a full refund still no reply. I’ve had to hire a car costing me £160 a week ! Which the garage won’t pay for all I want is my money back now I’ve lost all faith in anything this garage says or does !

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