Misleading vehicle registration

The consumer’s issue:

In 2018, I purchased a car with the understanding that it was two years old. All the documents said the car was first registered in 2016 and the dealership also confirmed this. They also said that an MOT wasn’t required until 2019. However, after buying the car, I started to receive MOT reminders from the dealership. I contacted them and they said they would update their records as an MOT wasn’t due. I then contacted the DVLA and they informed me that the vehicle was an import and that it had first been registered in 2015, and was then re-registered in the UK in 2016. I therefore feel that the dealership misled me regarding the purchase of the car.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We are unsure as to the nature of the complaint as the car is a 2015 plate and this was made clear when it was purchased by the customer.
  • The car was first registered in the UK in 2016, and this was visible in all the documents which were discussed and signed by the consumer.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator didn’t uphold the dispute in the customer’s favour.
  • Firstly, he said that, although the average consumer would prefer a car that was two years old rather than three, there was no evidence that the car would have been cheaper.
  • Secondly, the adjudicator said that the V5C document showed that the car was registered in 2015. He said that the consumer must have had sight of this and she signed the documents. He said there was no evidence to show the dealership hadn’t shown this document to the customer prior to the sale.
  • The consumer disagreed because she claimed that at no point had the dealership advised that this was a 2015 registration car.

The ombudsman’s final decision:

  • The ombudsman did not agree with the adjudicator and upheld the customer’s complaint.
  • She noted that the vehicle order form signed by the consumer and the sales invoice stated the car was first registered in 2016.
  • The dealership, by their own admission, had also said the car was first registered in 2016 and that this was discussed with the consumer.
  • The ombudsman noted that the V5C did mention that the car was previously registered elsewhere in 2015, but she wasn’t convinced that the consumer had sight of this document prior to purchasing the vehicle.
  • The ombudsman said that the consumer’s actions taken immediately after she found out about the discrepancy, supported the claim that she was under the genuine belief the car had a 2016 registration.
  • The ombudsman said it was unlikely the average consumer would automatically be able to tell the age of a car by its number plate. Furthermore, she stated that the dealership and all the documents showed that the car was first registered in 2016. Therefore, the consumer wouldn’t have had any reason to doubt or question this.
  • The ombudsman concluded that the dealership had not provided the consumer with all the information available to enable her to make an informed decision. She said that, while there was no evidence that the car would have cost less than it did, the age of the car was likely to have influenced the consumer’s decision to buy it.
  • Therefore, the ombudsman recommended that the dealership offered compensation to the consumer in the form of a price reduction.


  • Both parties agreed with the ombudsman’s final decision, and the case was closed.