Motor Vehicles consumer law
When purchasing a used vehicle, consumer rights apply in pretty much the same way as when you would be purchasing other products, but a few points differ, and should be taken into consideration, before actions are being set in motion.
In case of problems, time is of the essence, as the longer the vehicle is used, the harder it will be to prove the defect was there upon purchase, or if the defect manifested itself because of usage after the sale.
Consumer rights, when purchasing used vehicles vary for purchases through a dealer, an auction, through the Internet or purchase made direct from the previous owner.
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Buying from a dealer
When buying a used vehicle from a dealer, certain parts of the consumer law applies:
A used vehicle, must be as described, be in good enough condition to perform its function, and of reasonable quality. Keep in mind that on used vehicles the standards for the above will be lower, due to its age, mileage and history. It will also vary depending on what price you purchased it for.
In case problems arise, after buying the vehicle, it may be within your rights to return it at a full refund. In such an event the problem should manifest itself within the first month after the sale at the latest, and the defect should be a significant one, and again, age, price and mileage are factored into the equation.
In case the dealer in question refuses, to take the appropriate actions in order to correct the problem, there is the option of legal actions, up to six years after the initial purchase.
Within a period of six months, after the purchase, any defects, should be treated as though they had been there at the time of the sale, and repairs should be made by the dealer. In case of a conflict it is up to the dealer to prove the defect was not there at the time of sale. After the six month period, the obligation to prove this lies with the buyer, who then has to prove the defect was there at the time of sale.
In case a used vehicle was purchased at an auction, that you attended yourself, with an auctioneer present, consumer rights are very limited.
Before entering into an auction one should always check the Terms of Service, for the specific auction. If in there it is stated that "rights under the Sale of Goods Act are excluded", it means purchases are made as seen, and all responsibilities are for the buyer, who is expected to check the object he or she wishes to buy thoroughly. In such cases, there is not much that can be done about defects found afterwards.
At certain auctions, an insurance against this type of problems can be obtained, while others will allow for a grace period in which the buyer can still decide to cancel the purchase.
Buying a used vehicle direct from the owner, greatly limits consumer rights, especially compared to purchasing a vehicle through a dealer. Basically the only obligation the seller of the vehicle has, is to adequately provide a description, and present the vehicle as described. There are no guarantees or rights, regarding the condition the vehicle has to be in.
Buying a used vehicle online
Through the internet, it is possible to purchase used and new vehicles, and the consumer rights are the same as with regular sales, depending on the type of sale that was made. This means that in case you purchase a used vehicle through the web site of a dealer, the same rights apply as if you would have purchased it in person, and if you buy through an online auction, the rights for auctions apply. This also goes for buying a used vehicle straight from the owner, through use of the Internet.