/ Motoring

Jo Swinson: getting you a better deal on used cars

Used cars sign

Buying a used car isn’t always easy. Are you getting the best deal? Or are you being taken in by a scammer wanting to make a quick buck? Here’s Jo Swinson on what’s being done to get you a better deal on used cars.

Whether it’s a first car, a reliable vehicle for your commute or a safe way to do the school run, most of us will have bought a second-hand car at some point. And when we do, we want to know that we’re getting the best car we can and can trust the people we’re buying from.

According to the AA, as many as 750,000 people a year say they faced unnecessary problems while buying a used car, which shows just how many of us are affected.

Problems when buying a used car

This is why I launched the Used Car Commission and set the challenge of understanding the causes of consumer complaints in an industry that’s valued at £38.1bn per year. The Commission brings together the expertise of representatives from Which? and other consumer groups, motoring organisations, regulators and the industry trade association in an attempt to investigate fully what can be done to limit the problems you face.

The Commission has now reported back and found that the industry often works well for consumers, but that there are areas for improvement. It has put forward proposals to get a better deal for consumers, including closer cooperation between the Police and Trading Standards to target organised criminals and the development of a minimum set of requirements for used car codes and trader approval schemes.

Getting you the best used car deals

This is a great start and something I’ve given my full backing to, but there’s more to do to make sure you’re getting the best deals possible. I will be working with the Commission over the next few months to ensure their proposals are implemented.

I want to be clear that most dealers provide a good customer experience. It’s the rogue few who rip people off and then refuse to sort any problems out that I want to tackle. That way, when you drive away in the car you’ve just purchased you’ll have the trust and security that you deserve and won’t have to go through undue stress and hassle.

Have you ever bought a used car? Did you experience any problems? If so, I want to hear from you.

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This post, published in advance of National Consumer Week 2014, is from Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson. All opinions expressed here are Jo’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.


The remit of the Used Car Commission doesn’t cover the private sales of used cars!

Roseann Caddis says:
13 November 2014

Wee bought a used car on the 23/8/2014 it was a purge 206cc convertable it was ten years old and the mileage was54222 which for it’s age was great any way we have had it two mounth and it is sitting in our run way and want go as the main belt that runs everything has snapped the pulley tenntion is goosed we went to the suppliers and they said they would send a tough truck up for it Whitch they haven’t the sales man gave my wife a three month warranty but he is calling her a liar is ther any thing we can do oblige g Cunningham

Steve Waddington says:
9 November 2014

Bought a Hyundai i30 in May 2014 and about 3 weeks ago the steering motor failed – the car was off the road for a week and needed 4 new sensors. The car was registered new in November 2013 and has travelled 8000 miles since new – glad we were driving in a straight line when the motor failed. Hyundai dealer who fixed the car wasn’t helpful in explaining what had caused the problem.
Shame about all this as I really like the car otherwise.

Slightly off topic: Are the vehicle checks on used cars offered by the AA,RAC and other motoring organisations worthwhile? Has Which reported on this?

Bought a bmw from car giant with the AA warrantee for electrics – all in about 12k. Engine wouldn’t start within 4 months. AA warrantee useless and car giant worse. Realise it’s as good as giving your money to a private dealer who runs off but at least doesn’t pretend to offer you come back. Neither company is interested in protecting their good name once they have your cash- funny that! BMW have done much better in so far as they’ve tried to resolve the inexplicable fault and stepped in when these other greedy outfits didn’t want to know.

Isbjorn says:
9 November 2014

What about those of us who buy a duff NEW car? I pursued a section 75 claim through the Financial Ombudsman in good faith that UK Law would be upheld – it was not, as the Ombudsman is entitled to decide the case NOT in accordance with the Law. As the car cost more than the £10k upper limit for the low cost Small Claims Court route to redress, then my case would now have to go to Civil Court where costs could easily end up exceeding the value of the car. All told, I would have been better off selling the car on immediately as, by pursuing my case, it has now depreciated to half its purchase price in the meanwhile, for no use/benefit out of it.

How many NEW cars can be bought for no more than £10k? And, with many “above average/base model” cars now costing more than £30k new, even section 75 doesn’t offer protection.

Used cars must, at one time, have been bought new by somebody and, from my experience, all of those buyers have bought-by-the-seat-of-their-pants because if they’d had any problems they could have been as hard done as myself.

I am distinctly put off buying a new car ever again, indeed put off buying any car for more than £10k.

We also bought Toyota Prius from Car Giantz in April 2013. We had terrible experience and I would not recommend that dealer to anybody. We paid £4785 for Toyota Prius that was “apparently” in very good condition. Within a week of purchase we took it to Toyota garage for service only to discover that it needed repairs in a region of £2500. We had terrible problems trying to get money back and to return the car. Eventually we sought legal help and this finally did the trick. The money was return to us in mid May. It was all very stressful experience and if not for persistence of our fantastic lawyer I don’t think we would have seen a penny.

Helen says:
11 November 2014

We bought a used citron C4 from
Stoneacre york 18 months ago, within hours it was back in the garage and needed a new turbo, this took 12 weeks, then that turbo failed and
It was again in for 5 weeks for repair. Stoneacre refused
To refund the car as it needed to have 3 unsuccessful
Repairs before a refund could be considered!! It’s
Since been back in the garage twice more
With other faults. In total the car has been in the garage for 5 months of the
18 months we’ve had it. The extended warranty is pointless as stoneacre haven’t a clue how
To deal with non ford cars, the customer service is dreadful. So we are stuck with an unreliable
Car and unreliable garage. As we speak the car has been at the garage for 2 weeks with no sign of diagnostic or repair

Mikerosa says:
5 March 2015

Good One.

Elizabeth says:
11 November 2014

Reading the above comments I thought back over our experience of buying used cars, and have to say that the only time we experienced any problems was when we bought a used car from a dealer, 8 years ago we bought a Range Rover from a Rover dealer, it was a low mileage 2 owner car with a 3 month warranty, amazingly after 15 weeks our problems started, it was a nightmare to drive the car as we never knew when the power steering would lock out, Other problem was the engine kept dying, Rover dealers not identify the root cause but could get it going again and cost was usually £800 to £900, after 2 years of costly disruptive motoring, I persuaded hubby to let me buy a 2nd car.
Checked Autotrader and found a 2002 rover 75 saloon manual / diesel, Altho we live in Kent we took the train to Halifax yorkshire, test drove the car, paid our cash and drove 250 miles home, car ran beautifully for 3 years when we sold it as I had now found the car I really wanted a 1997 top spec Toyota Amazon 4.2 Diesel Automatic, again sourced thru Autotrader, this time we travelled to Newcastle and test drove paid our cash and drove back to Kent. Car ran beautifully for 4 years, but had to change as needed something not so challenging for Hubby to climb into as crippled with RA. Sold the Toyota, actually achieved a profit of £2000.00 on the car as we had always serviced with dealer and kept it in perfect running condition. Next purchase was on Ebay a 2005 lexus RX300, bought 2 years ago, have it serviced via Lexus and running beautifully…. Reason I believe we had such good results with last 3 purchases is. We Identified the make and Model we wanted, Ideally no more than 2 owners and mileage no more than 8k per annum, we only considered cars with Complete service history and historical MOTs, we researched all maintenance milestones and ensured they had been completed, finally ensure all your senses are tuned in when you test drive the vehicle. and walk away if it does not sound or feel right

Good luck

Derek Stewart says:
12 November 2014

I bought a 2007 Honda Civic privately in November 20011.
In early 20013 noticed rusting on roof above windscreen after some communication with local dealer and Honda UK this was repaired under extended warranty . Rubber strip between roof and windscreen also replaced. In September 2014 the rubber strip started coming away from roof and was again replaced FOC.
This car also has squeaky clutch which according to information is common fault on this model.
Having spoken to local Belfast dealer they say that it requires new clutch master cylinder obviously to be fitted at my expense
As Honda have known about this problem for a number of years surely this should be classed as not fit for purpose and replaced FOC.

If you see a car advertised on a dealer’s website, obtain further details by phone and then pay a holding deposit prior to test drive (within 24 hours of deposit), can the dealer withhold the deposit if, upon inspection, the car is not acceptable?