News item

Guidance for car dealers

The Trading Standards Institute welcomes a new guidance document that sets out second-hand car dealers’ legal obligations to customers under consumer protection laws, published by the Office of Fair Trading.

TSI’s motor trade lead officer Peter Stratton said: ‘We applaud the OFT  for taking the time to look into the problem of second hand car trade and to support business by issuing clear and definitive guidance on Consumer Protection Regulations.

‘We would urge consumers to continue to inform trading standards of problems they are experiencing buying second hand cars, so that we can target these businesses with advice and ultimately, if necessary, take enforcement action.

'However trading standards still rely on consumers coming to us through Consumer Direct to tell us where they have a problem so that we can advise businesses that are causing problems and ultimately, if necessary, take enforcement action.’

The new guidance and checklist is intended to help dealers comply with two important pieces of consumer protection legislation:

  • the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which ban unfair commercial practices towards consumers, and
  • the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which governs dealers' legal obligations to consumers with regard to the quality, fitness and description of the vehicle being sold, and consumers rights to redress when something goes wrong.

The guidance has been issued following the publication in March of the OFT's market study into the £24 billion second-hand car market which found a number of problems in the sector. This study found that consumers lose an estimated £85 million per year in connection with fixing unresolved faults that are the dealer's obligation to correct, issues around illegal clocking, dealers pretending to be private sellers, the use of illegal disclaimers and failures to disclose sufficient information about vehicles prior to sale.

Download from the OFT website the new guidance (PDF 174KB) and an accompanying checklist (PDF 1MB).

Consumers in need of advice should call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 05 06 or visit