If you buy a second-hand car from a dealer, you have some protection under consumer law.
However, if you buy privately, you do not have the same consumer rights because the person selling the car is not selling it as part of their business.
Remember, it is an offence under Road Traffic legislation for a dealer to sell a car that is not roadworthy. This means that it must be safe for you and for other road users. You should contact the gardaí if you suspect a car is not roadworthy.
When you buy from a dealer, the car should be:
There are a number of things to watch out for when buying a second hand car. Our car buyer’s checklist (pdf) will also help you to ask the right questions.
Your rights when you buy privately
You do not have the same consumer rights if you are buying a car from a private seller. Generally, private sales do not come with a warranty so you should ask a mechanic to check the car before you buy it.
You should always get the seller’s address or telephone number so that you can contact them if you have problems later on. Always know what to look out for when buying privately.
Use our handy downloadable car buyer’s checklist (pdf) to help you keep track and make sure you get all the answers you need.
If you buy a car from a private seller and discover a problem, there may be little you can do beyond taking a civil case through the courts. Because of this, you should be very careful when buying from a private seller and you really need to be aware of what you’re buying.
Remember, a private seller may not have all the answers, so it is important for you to have the car checked by a mechanic.
Car clocking is where a car’s mileage has been adjusted to show that it has done less miles than it actually has.
Car clocking puts the safety of road users at risk as the more wear and tear on a car the higher the risk of a breakdown or accident.
And, of course, it is illegal to sell a clocked car.
If you believe you have been sold a clocked car or that the seller misrepresented the mileage you should report this as soon as possible to the gardaí. You can also contact us. We investigate all complaints and take action where warranted.
However, we cannot investigate a suspected clocked car if you have had it for more than two years, or if the garage which sold it to you has closed.
Be careful - are you buying a car that is still under a finance agreement?
Check the registration documents of a second-hand car to make sure that it is not already owned by a finance company.
If this is the case, the person trying to sell you the car does not actually own it and does not have the right to sell it to you — even though they may have the log book and registration documents.
If you buy a car under an existing car finance agreement, you run the risk of the car being repossessed by the owner (the finance company).
There is a much higher risk of this happening if you buy from a private seller so be sure to check. Hire Purchase Information Ltd keeps records of cars subject to HP agreements. You can request a copy of a vehicle finance report through their website for a small fee.
What to do if something goes wrong
If you feel you have been misled about any aspect of the car or if something goes wrong after buying the car, you should:
(a) buying used vehicles from SIMI member companies; and
(b) service or repairs of vehicles by SIMI members companies except those subject to a manufacturer’s warranty claim. For more information, check out the website www.simi.ie.
For further information www.consumerhelp.ie
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