Faulty and unsafe cars for sale across South West

Published:  17 July, 2020

One in three used cars looked at as part of an investigation into second-hand car sales across the South West were faulty or unsafe, Trading Standards has found.

Of the 129 vehicles being sold that were assessed as part of the Trading Standards South West CIC (TSSW) investigation, one in every three had faults and would have failed a MOT test. This includes vehicles with faulty parts, suspected mileage issues or tyres with near insufficient and illegal levels of grip. The financial loss to consumers from the potential purchase of these vehicles is estimated to be almost £350,000.

The investigation – which started in December 2019 and concluded in April 2020 – also discovered a number of traders charging consumers additional, unadvertised administration fees as part of the vehicle sale, which breaks pricing rules. One business, which charged an admin fee of £99 per sale, stood to make around extra £400,000 per year as a result.

Formal enforcement action has now been taken by trading standards which prevents the sale of the cars until all faults have been fixed.

Used cars continue to be the most complained about issue year-on-year within the South West and nationally. The TSSW visits targeted the most complained about traders across the South West region.

The team worked with Gary Webster, the South West’s Used Car Lead Officer from Cornwall Council. He said: “Across the South West, used car sales is one area that continues to generate high levels of complaint from consumers. The complaints cover a range of issues, including safety, misleading adverts, hidden admin charges and poor customer service.

“Unfortunately, there are some traders that place profit before the safety and satisfaction of their customers. This investigation has enabled our efforts to be focused on the small minority who generate the most complaints. We are then able to provide targeted advice, or in the worst cases, take formal action to protect consumers.”

Stuart Radnedge, Regional Co-ordination Officer for Trading Standards South West, added: “Some sellers are clearly out to make as much money as they can with little to no regard to consumer protection rules, customer rights or safety. However, the failure to carry out essential checks can potentially put their customer’s life in danger.

He concluded: “Car buying should not be a negative experience. In many cases we work positively with local car sales businesses to improve the image of the industry and actively encourage the use of trader approval schemes.”

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