Most motorists are unaware of a new law allowing them to get a full refund on a faulty car within 30 days of purchase.
Despite the introduction today of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, new data from the RAC shows 95% of motorists are unaware of the new law that gives anyone buying a vehicle more protection if it turns out to be faulty.
The RAC believes the new law will strengthen the hand of buyers who think they have been mis-sold a used car or if a fault is revealed within the first 30 days.
The new ‘short-term right to reject’ provision allows the buyer to demand a full refund.
Previously the dealer could simply replace or repair a faulty item or part.
Up to six months from the original date of sale, the dealer will be obliged to repair or replace the faulty part, and will only have one opportunity to fix the problem.
If a repair or replacement is not possible or unsuccessful, the buyer will still be able to demand a reduced price or exercise their ‘final right to reject’, and demand full or partial repayment.
Research from the RAC’s ‘opinion panel’ found that of those that did know about it, just 30% correctly identified that the law comes into force today.
Despite the changes, 39% said they felt the new law would do nothing to change their confidence when purchasing their next used car.
RAC Cars spokesman Pete Williams said: “Car buyers have long felt they are at the mercy of unscrupulous car traders, but the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act could finally turn the tables in their favour.
“Over time, and subject to some successful test cases in the courts, the new law should begin to squeeze the most dishonest dealers content with selling sub-standard stock out of the market.
“There will be nowhere to hide for those actively selling vehicles to consumers that, frankly, are better off being sold for parts – if not sent to the scrapheap.
“On the flip side, those dealers who take the most care over their vehicles stand to gain, and we could see average used car prices increase as a result.
“What is clear is that the new law should have the very welcome effect of driving up standards among dealers, giving motorists much more confidence in their purchases.”
However, the RAC warns that after six months the onus will be on the buyer to prove there is a fault with their vehicle, and that it was present at the time of sale.
Motorists therefore need to be clear on their rights.
“After six months, the onus on proving a car had a pre-existing fault shifts to the consumer – so the responsibility will lie with them if they are to benefit from the new law. This is likely to lead to some difficult disputes between dealers and buyers.”
The RAC has prepared advice for anyone buying a vehicle on how the Consumer Rights Act 2015 affects them and what to look out for when buying a vehicle. A detailed guide will be available at www.raccars.co.uk.
Data from the RAC 'opinion panel', 2,240 respondents surveyed w/c September 21, 2015.