Buying a car? These are your rights


17/05/2018 Whether you are buying new or buying used, your rights are protected by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA.)

It may seem particularly daunting to speak up when your consumer rights are infringed in this industry, but that shouldn't stop you from getting your car and car related issues sorted.

The CPA and the Motoring Industry

Contrary to what some dealers may allege when you lodge a complaint, the motoring industry is in fact subject to the provisions of the CPA. Cars are treated as ‘goods’ in the Act and though they may be more complex compared to appliances for instance, you have the same consumer rights across the board - the CPA overrides any dealer’s policies at all times.

Your right to safe and quality goods

You are entitled to good quality products that are suitable for their intended purpose, in good working condition and durable for a reasonable period of time. This right remains the same for both new and used cars.

What to do when things go wrong

Your car carries an implied six month warranty. If the car or any part or component becomes faulty within six months of purchase, you can return it to the dealer for a refund or for it to be repaired or replaced. Remember, you get to choose the remedy.

Warranty on repairs: Any part that was repaired or replaced also carries a further three month warranty. The amount of time during which the part functioned properly can't be offset against this warranty.

Pre-approval of repairs: You should always ask for a quote before anyone works on your car. This is so that both you and the dealer know exactly what needs to be worked on. If the dealer goes on to fix the dent your car had when you only wanted them to work on your brake pads and discs, you can refuse to pay for the additional work.

Wear and tear: Parts that become faulty overtime as a result of normal vehicle use do not qualify for this warranty. Similarly, if you are involved in an accident or hit a pothole, you can't return the car to your dealer and demand a repair, replacement part or a refund.

Pre-owned car: If the car in question is not brand new, there are other considerations to think about. When you are looking to buy a used car, there are some things you should ask the seller or dealer about before committing to a purchase agreement. These include the following:

  1. Has the car been reconditioned, rebuilt or renovated before?
  2. Has it ever been involved in an accident?
  3. What is the car's service and repair history?
  4. Do you know of any existing faults?
  5. When was the car’s first registration year and who is it currently registered with?

You can also verify some of this information at a small cost on sites such as Windeed or directly with Transunion.

Any fault, accident or reconditioning that you were informed about is deemed to have been a result of normal wear and tear and thus wouldn't entitle you to a refund, repair or replacement. If however, you weren't given any or enough information regarding the fault when you first bought the car, then you can return the car as per your CPA rights. The dealer has a duty to disclose all important information pertaining to the car at or before the point of sale.

Return of parts: Once repairs are concluded, any parts that were replaced must be returned to you unless the repairs were performed under a warranty or an insurance claim. In those instances, the parts must be discarded once replaced.

Onus of proof: Finally, the onus of proof rests on the supplier and not you. This means that it is up to your dealer to prove that they were compliant with the Act (disclosed all relevant information) and not negligent when they sold you the car.

Remember, be polite but firm whenever you raise an issue with your dealer. Buying and maintaining a car is no light matter, your consumer rights shouldn't be either!

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