What to do when something goes wrong

What do you do if you’ve bought a car and now there’s a problem asks Geraldine Herbert 

I recently bought a car and now I’ve discovered a fault. What can I do?
The first thing to do is contact the seller and let them know what the issue is and find out what, if anything, they are prepared to do about it. If you have bought from a dealership you are covered by consumer law so the car must be of merchantable quality. So given its age and the price you paid for it, it should be of reasonable quality and must also be fit for the purpose intended — that is, roadworthy — and as described, so it should match any description given. If your complaint isn’t resolved and the garage or car dealer is a member of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), you can make a formal complaint to them. If, however, you bought from a private seller you do not have the same consumer rights. If you’re considering taking legal action then you’d need to consult a solicitor.


I suspect my car has been ‘clocked’. What can I do?
‘Clocking’ is a term used to describe the process of reducing a car’s recorded mileage. While cars with low mileage are more attractive to buyers and are worth more, car buyers of clocked cars are very often faced with unexpected maintenance and repairs plus the safety of the car may also be compromised. It is illegal to interfere, or engage another person to, interfere with an odometer under the Road Traffic Act 2014 so if you suspect a car has been clocked then report it to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and contact the Garda.


What happens if I buy a car with outstanding finance?
If there’s still finance owing on a car then the vehicle belongs to the finance company so no one else has the right to sell it. This means the car could be repossessed by the lender if you do buy it from someone else. Unfortunately, as the financial institution is the legal owner there are few options for you. You need to seek legal advice as to whether it is possible to pursue the person who sold you the car.


Do I have any come back if I buy at an auction?
Cars are generally ‘sold as seen’ at an auction and this means there’s no guarantee of condition or quality so the auction house isn’t responsible if anything goes wrong

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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