What Are My Rights When Buying A Used Car? Our Guide

Finding a hidden fault is often the biggest worry when buying a used car. If you have been left with a dud, you may be asking yourself, “What are my rights when buying a used car?”

Consumers have protection from dodgy dealers, so today we’re going to take a look at the used car legal rights.

Keep reading for everything you need to know. 

Rights After Buying A Used Car From A Dealer

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, it is your legal right to reject something faulty that you have bought. 

Buyers are given 30-day consumer rights on cars purchased from a dealer. Allowing them to get a full refund within the period.

Dealers are duty-bound to ensure the following three things. The vehicles they sell need to be:

  • As described
  • Fit for purpose
  • Of a satisfactory quality

‘Satisfactory quality’ means used cars should be of a standard that a reasonable person might expect. Cars must be roadworthy and in a condition that reflects their age, or better.

Older cars are expected to have more mileage. So the standards they are held to will not be as high as newer models

The consumer is protected by their rights. Although the dealer is not responsible for any damage or faults that occur through natural wear and tear after the sale.

If the dealer has clearly made the buyer aware of any faults before selling, and they bought it anyway, the dealer isn’t responsible for fixing those issues. 

Dealers must have the legal right to sell their vehicles and are liable for any faults found at the time of sale.

Finding A Problem Later

Once your initial 30-day period has expired, your rights to reject your vehicle become less clear.

Between 30 days after purchasing and six months after, any faults found on your used car are deemed to have existed when the car was sold. This is written in law and it’s up to the dealer to prove otherwise.

Unless you and the dealer come to a different arrangement, the law states that sellers may only have one opportunity to fix the faults. If they don’t agree to fix it, or simply cannot, you are entitled to a refund within six months of purchase.

However, a ‘reasonable’ adjustment to the price can be made by the seller to account for the depreciation of the vehicle during your ownership.

Consumers don’t have as many rights after 30 days. But, they can still ask for the car to be repaired or replaced. A partial refund is also a possibility.

Buying A Used Car From A Dealer Rights: After 6 Months

Finding a fault with a vehicle after six months becomes problematic for consumers. The burden of proving the fault existed when purchased now falls to the buyer.

Trying to prove this may come at an additional cost to the buyer without a guarantee of finding the evidence required. 

This is why knowing your rights when buying a used car from a dealer can save you money and hassle if a fault is found.

Tackling The Problem

Like many things in life, the longer you leave a problem with your car, the harder it can be to put right. 

If you notice your used car has a fault we recommend contacting the dealer as soon as possible.

The dealer may offer to fix the problem. But make sure to ask them for a detailed breakdown of any costs involved.

Additionally, keep a record of conversations you have with the dealer. Should the fault fail to be fixed and things need to go to court you will have some evidence to protect you.

Try to resolve things amicably with the dealer first. If all else fails, your used car legal rights allow you to reject the vehicle provided you have tried to get the fault fixed through the dealer.

Consumer Protection

When buying from a dealer, consumers are further protected by the Unfair Trading Regulations. 

This means that dealers are prohibited from giving false information to their customers. 

Dealers are also required to avoid hiding information about the vehicles they sell so customers are not blindly buying a car with faults.

Buying Privately

The laws on purchasing a used car do not give buyers the same rights when buying privately compared to through a dealership. 

The onus is on you to determine whether there are any faults with the vehicle before purchase.

We recommend doing a thorough check of the car before you buy if you can’t resist the private deal.

It’s often a red flag if a seller isn’t willing to meet you at their home. Always check that the vehicle is registered to the house that you meet the private seller at. Additionally, check that their name is also on the V5C registration.

Private buyers are protected by a few rights, however. 

The seller must have the legal right to sell the car, and it must be roadworthy.

In fact, it is a criminal offence to sell a car not fit for purpose; an MOT certificate from several months ago doesn’t prove a vehicle is currently in a drivable state.

Before Buying Privately

Before you purchase a used car privately, we recommend a few preliminary checks

There are a few things you should check and ask about before going ahead with a private purchase. This is in order to prevent any issues and make sure that the car you’re buying is in good condition.

Find out what those are in our articles What To Ask When Buying A Used Car and Our Guide On What To Check When Buying A Used Car.


If there are any gaps in the vehicle’s history, don’t hesitate to ask the seller about them.

Ultimately, if doubt has crept into your mind about a vehicle, it’s safer not to proceed.

Auction Buying

Although it may be thrilling, buying a used car at an auction can be a gamble. 

Typically, these vehicles are sold ‘as seen’, and any underlying faults with the car can be difficult to detect.

While some auctions might offer a ‘guarantee’, these rights are often limited and clever wording on the paperwork may give you basically no rights.

What Are My Consumer Rights When Buying A Used Car Online?

Buying online is no different from walking into a dealership and striking a deal. 

You are protected by the same consumer rights and 30-day refund policy. 

If you purchase your used car from a private seller online, you have the same rights as a face-to-face sale with the same dealer.

The government has claimed that UK consumer rights won’t change when buying goods from the EU following Brexit. 

However, instead of using a UK court, you will have to take up any claims in the country that your goods came from.

This guide should hopefully have answered your question of, “What are my rights when buying a used car?” Arming yourself with the knowledge before buying a used car can help you resolve any faults you may find as quickly as possible.

We hope that you found this article useful!

Whilst you’re here, why not check out some more of our helpful guides? Such as What To Ask When Buying A Used Car and When Is The Best Time To Buy A Used Car?

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