An operation to target the sellers of dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles and protect road users, carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, found that 25 per cent of the garages visited had unroadworthy cars for sale on their forecourt.
Trading Standards Officers made unannounced visits to 16 garages located across all five districts and boroughs and chosen using consumer complaint data.
A vehicle expert was employed to carry out a thorough examination of 31 cars, of which five were found to have so many faults that they were deemed to be dangerous and unroadworthy. Faults identified included damaged brakes, illegal tyres, seatbelt mounting corrosion and steering and suspension faults.
All garage owners were advised of their responsibilities and further enforcement action will be undertaken in the future.
Warwickshire Trading Standards receives more consumer complaints about cars than about anything else. These unroadworthy vehicle checks form part of a rolling programme of mystery shopper exercises that have led to a number of successful prosecutions including last year, when a garage was fined and ordered to pay costs of over £9000 after selling an unroadworthy vehicle it described as ‘in good condition’ and ‘drives very well without faults’.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:
“Whilst we are pleased that most of the garages visited are selling vehicles that are safe and roadworthy, it is a concern that any garage would attempt to sell a vehicle that was dangerous to drive.”
“Car buyers, most of whom are unlikely to be vehicle experts, have to trust car dealers that the vehicles they sell are safe to drive.”
“Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to carry out these unannounced visits to protect used car buyers and help ensure that traders are only selling cars they know to be safe and legal.”
All five vehicles identified as dangerous were removed from sale and all 16 traders advised of their responsibilities under the Road Traffic Act 1988, General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Top Tips for Used Car Buyers
Your consumer rights are much stronger when buying from a trader than a private seller. Traders may also offer warranties on vehicles they sell, but remember, you will probably pay more for the car than from a private seller.
Before you buy, check the vehicle’s history. You can check a car’s MOT history online for free by visiting www.check-mot.service.gov.uk There are also a number of free and paid for apps that enable buyers to discover if the car they are buying has been stolen, written off or has outstanding finance.
If you’re not a vehicle expert, consider paying for an independent vehicle check. A basic check will cost about £100.
Do a visual check of the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Check the tyre tread depth and underneath the car for repairs, severe corrosion and oil leaks. Look for chips or cracks in the windscreen and dents or rust on the bodywork. Check the engine fluid levels and make sure the electrics work properly (windows/lights/radio).
Don’t forget the car’s interior. Sagging, stained and torn upholstery can indicate the vehicle has not been looked after and may be suggestive of problems elsewhere.
If you buy a car from a trader and subsequently have problems, you do have a legal right to reject the vehicle or request a repair or replacement, dependent upon circumstances. Contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice on 03454 04 05 06 or visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards