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Those buying second-hand cars need greater protections as instances of ‘clocking’ and cars be sold despite suffering major faults surge, a Government-backed commission has concluded.
The Used Car Commission has reported after a year examining the used car market. It’s findings included that complaints about used-car sales have risen, with almost 50,000 made to Citizens Advice in the six months to the end of September. The charity now deals with more complaints about used cars than anything else.
The Commission also reported that, according to the AA, 210,000 cars are sold each year with a major fault and 180,000 are ‘clocked’, with miles shaved off the odometer. The practice gives a bogus
indication of the car’s use and can add hundreds to the amount that buyers have to pay. Consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson launched the commission last year to identify the root causes of the high level of complaints and develop proposals for addressing them.
As a result of the report, the commission recommends police and trading standards officers must work together better in a bid to thwart organised criminals who steal vehicles to export, clone or break them up for parts. It also suggests a set of standards and for more information to be gathered on used cars to target investigations on emerging trends.
Jo Swinson said: ‘While the majority of second-hand car buyers will have a trouble-free experience, too many consumers are left with unresolved issues or thousands of pounds out of pocket.’
The report is the latest government initiative to clean up the used car market, which started with an Office of Fair Trading investigation two years ago.
David Bruce, direct of AA Cars, said: ‘It’s vital that anyone buying a car that has been pre-owned should be able to do so with confidence and expect it to perform without problem. ‘But used cars may have a hidden history that isn’t obvious when you are considering a used vehicle – for instance evidence of clocking, outstanding finance, that it has been previously written-off by an insurer or it has been registered as stolen.’
The report doesn’t cover the sale of private cars.
David adds: ‘Buyers have few rights if they buy privately – vehicles are essentially “as seen”. ‘However, buying through a dealer provides a range of protections, for example under the Sale of Goods Act. That, along with the latest measures, should help to reassure buyers choosing their next car from a dealer.’