West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is keen to warn consumers about the importance of doing essential research before buying a used car.
The warning follows eight days of action earlier this year when officers checked 115 vehicles being offered for sale by 13 different businesses in West Yorkshire. The action was part of a regional project to tackle unfair trading practices in the used car market with 176 vehicles checked regionally. Checks were made to assess accuracy of advertisements and roadworthiness.
In West Yorkshire, there were issues with 84% of the vehicles assessed with 55% of vehicles having a price discrepancy between the online advert and the windscreen price. The biggest difference between the advertised and actual price was £2000.
Other discrepancies related to mileage, under declared number of previous keepers, inaccurately described service history and length of MOT remaining.
A motor engineer conducted on-site inspections and found that 15% of the vehicles were unroadworthy. 12 of these were previously recorded as insurance write offs and had been badly repaired.
Matt Boxall, Chair of Yorkshire and the Humber Trading Standards Group, said “The high number of problems found on the days of action is unacceptable. Consumers should take some reassurance in knowing that the businesses visited were targeted because Trading Standards had received complaints about them.”
A range of appropriate enforcement actions have been instigated and investigations are ongoing.
Any consumer wishing to report issues about a used car, or any other consumer purchase, should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 03454 04 05 06.
Tips to consumers looking to purchase a used car:
- Check to see if the garage adheres to a code of practice or is a member of an approved scheme such as the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Motor Trade Partnership
- Ask any relevant questions about the vehicle before you purchase such as the Service & MOT history and check associated documents.
- Check the MOT & Mileage history at www.gov.uk
- Take the car for a test drive
- Inspect the vehicle such as the bodywork to make sure you are satisfied and aware of its condition – consider an expert report.
For more detailed advice visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Michelle Bucknell, Co-ordinator for the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Motor Trade Partnership Scheme said ”Members of the West Yorkshire Motor Trade Partnership follow strict criteria and are audited by West Yorkshire Trading Standards to make sure that high standards are maintained. The scheme is dedicated to upholding high standards of customer service so that consumers can buy from our members with confidence”.
A list of members can be found at;
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Chair of the Yorkshire and the Humber Trading Standards Safety Group said “I encourage everyone to follow the consumer tips. Traders who intentionally sell mis-described or illegal cars will make seeking redress at a later stage very difficult. It is worth taking the time beforehand to prevent buying a vehicle from such a trader in the first place”.