Just Bought a Used Car With Problems?

You have more rights that you might have known.


In recent months, I have received a total of twenty-one emails from private car buyers all asking for advice. Each had purchased a used car from a dealership somewhere in the UK, and each experienced mechanical issues after purchase.

Motorists were told that the car was being sold to them under a strict ‘Sold as Seen’ policy, meaning that the dealership rejected any responsibility for the vehicle after purchase.

No warranty or guarantee, no ‘come back policy’.


fingers crossed image of a car dealer


Some car dealerships use ‘Sold as Seen’ when selling a car at a discounted price, stating that the steep price reduction removes liability after the sale. It’s a common occurrence in the used car industry and one of the reasons for its charlatans, crooks and frauds reputation.

One of my recent emails was from a lady called Michelle. She’d bought a car from a local dealer for a reduced price of £2300. Initially the car was marked up at £2500.

Michelle contacted me and outlined the details of the deal struck with the car dealership. They clearly stated that a price reduction of £200 invalidated the 3 month standard warranty and the car would therefore be ‘Sold as Seen.’

Michelle agreed to buy the car and drove it home that evening. The next morning she jumped into her new car to find the EPS light on the dashboard and the power steering failing. Michelle emailed me with her concerns.


sold as seen car banner image


Michelle was surprised to hear that any car sold from a dealership, regardless of price, age and condition, could NOT legally be sold as seen.


No, it’s not sold as seen?

When you purchase a second-hand car from a motor dealer, you enter into a legal binding contract. As the buyer you are entitled to a car that is fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, and as described.

The legal contract says nothing of reduced liability.

You must expect an older car with higher mileage to display signs of wear and tear. This fits in with ‘as described and of satisfactory quality’.

However, the vehicle must still be fit for use on the road and in a condition that reflects its price tag, age and mileage.


Trading Standards

Trading Standards are your ‘go to’ source when confronted with issues relating to a used car bought from a dealer, especially when they’re refusing to assist you or are being generally unhelpful.

Trading Standards go on to say (Quote) “Traders must not mislead consumers by using phrases such as Sold as Seen or No Refunds”


If you buy a second-hand motor from a dealer, online, you have additional rights under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

Note you do NOT have such robust rights when buying a car from an auction or private seller.

If you buy a second-hand car that is faulty, you have a limited amount of time after the sale to reject it for a full refund. Generally, it’s a 30-day process and your right tends to diminish after this period.

Alternatively, you can choose to have the car repaired or replaced. You will need to contact the dealer, confirm all of the details of your complaint and the remedy you are seeking.

If all of these avenues fail you may be forced into taking court action. But always consider that used cars are used and may carry one or more faults that are consistent with the age, mileage, condition and car history, but faults should not be excessive.


In other words, fair wear and tear is NOT considered to be a fault.


In Michelle’s case an EPS warning light and failed power steering is NOT deemed as wear and tear. Items on the vehicle are broken and the dealership needs to provide a full refund (as the car was recently purchased) or repair the vehicle to a satisfactory and roadworthy condition.

With the correct information, Michelle was able to have her car fully repaired by the dealership despite their initial claims. Informing the dealers of her legal rights pushed them into action.

So to conclude, ‘Sold as Seen’ is a meaningless statement that some dealers use to escape liability for the products they sell. It is both illegal and improper to use this kind of statement as it has no firm basis in UK law.


Marcus Rockey
Used Car Guy

Useful links:


  1. Next steps – Consumer Rights Act 2015 refunds
  2. Legal detail – Rights when buying a used car
  3. Car history checks – Hpi clear


If you are in trouble with a car it is important to understand your legal rights. You may also want to keep a paper trail that includes things like purchase date, the price paid the method of payment and a log of any calls you have made to the dealers.

If you need a bit more help then contact me where I’ll be happy to help you along.
Used Car Guy