Since 2015, people buying used cars have been protected by the Consumer Rights Act, which provides a statutory warranty for used cars bought from a dealer.
When it comes to what is a statutory warranty on a used car, there is no single answer. The extent of protection a purchaser will receive under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will depend on how long they have owned their car and how the car was purchased.
What does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 do?
This Act provides statutory protection for the purchase of new and used cars bought from a dealership. It states that items bought must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described.
Cars should be roadworthy, reliable and able to be used as you would expect, such as for short or long journeys.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will take account of the age and mileage of the car, so an older car will not be expected to be in the same condition as a newer car would be. The Act does not protect against wear and tear, or where a car breaks down through normal usage. It will only protect against problems with the car that you were not told about, or that emerge soon after buying it.
Timeframes to pay attention to
If a car develops a fault within the first 30 days of purchase, it is under statutory warranty and the buyer can simply reject it and return it to the dealer for a refund.
If a fault emerges between 30 days and six months from the date of purchase, the law assumes that the fault was pre-existing and, unless the seller can prove otherwise, the vehicle is still protected by statutory warranty. Here, the seller has one chance to fix the problem. If they do not manage to do that, the buyer is entitled to a refund, which may be less than the original purchase price to account for the time during which the car has been functional.
After six months, the automatic protection of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 expires. It is up to the buyer to prove that there was a fault with the car at the time of purchase if they want to pursue a dealer for a claim to repair a fault.
Note that the statutory warranty on a used car only applies here to cars bought from a dealer. Private purchasers enjoy none of this protection and the rules for cars bought at auction will depend on the particular auction house, and whether it was online or not.
Other legal protections
If a car is bought online, including using the ‘buy it now’ facility of an online auction, the purchaser is protected by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation, and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which means purchasers can change their minds and return it within 14 days.
Dealers are also bound by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which prevents them from making any false claims about a vehicle’s age and condition, so that a buyer can rely on their statements when inspecting a vehicle.
Most cars bought from a dealer will come with some sort of additional warranty lasting anything from six to 12 months. Sometimes this can be included in the price, and sometimes it is offered as an extra. An ‘approved used car warranty’ will often stipulate that a car must be serviced and repaired by the dealership itself. Other ‘aftermarket used car warranties’ vary in terms of the length of cover offered, the type of protection, and the cost. If you want to extend your statutory warranty protection, make sure you choose cover that matches your particular requirements.