Can I get a new car refund or replacement?
This depends on why you’re looking for a new car refund or replacement – you can’t just change your mind about the car so there has to be a breach of the Code of Practice for you to get any kind of remedy. It will also come down to which remedy you’re eligible for under your consumer rights taking into account your circumstances.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015, which came into force on 1 October 2015, says that cars sold must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. Satisfactory quality is defined as the standard that a reasonable person would expect taking into account any relevant circumstances – such as the age, mileage, price and condition of the car.
If you experience a fault within the first 6 months, the law assumes that the car was faulty at the point you took delivery of it unless the seller can prove otherwise – however, after 6 months, the burden is on you to be able to prove that the fault is due to an inherent defect or a lack of durability in the car rather than general wear and tear or an external influence. This could be through an opinion from a garage or an independent technical report.
Bear in mind that if you could have spotted the problem on a reasonable inspection of the car when you took delivery of it, you won’t be able to then complain about it – this could be something like a scratch on the paintwork or that the car doesn’t have a satellite navigation. It is always advisable to test-drive a car before purchasing it and make sure you do a thorough check of everything before signing to say you’re happy with the car.
If your car is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you can claim a new car refund, replacement, price reduction or refund depending on the circumstances.
If you report a problem within the first 30 days, and you can demonstrate that the car fails to meet the standards required under the law (note that the burden is on you to prove it, not for the seller to disprove it), you are entitled to receive a full refund for the car.
If you report the issue outside of the first 30 days, you must allow the seller an opportunity to either repair the car or replace it depending on which is the most proportionate option – which will usually be a repair. That’s why it’s really important to contact the seller if something goes wrong with your car, and give them the chance to help, as if you don’t let them know, you might have to accept a second repair or a replacement instead of a price reduction or refund. If you are given a replacement, it will be like-for-like so far as is possible so if you wanted a newer car or a car with higher specification, for example, you may be asked to make some payment towards this.
Once the seller has had the opportunity to repair or replace the car, if it develops a further fault and is again in breach of your consumer rights, you can ask for a price reduction or a refund. There’s no set formula for a price reduction so it’s about finding an amount which is reasonable – for example, if you paid £500 for an optional extra which has failed, it might be to reimburse that £500. If you receive a refund for the car, as it is outside of the first 30 days, it will not be a full new car refund but will be subject to a deduction for use. This deduction is typically around 25p to 45p for every mile covered in the car although it can depend on what’s fair in the circumstances.
The only exception to this is if you bought your car without visiting the seller at any point – so, for example, online or over the phone. If that’s the case, the Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will apply and you will have a 14 day period, starting on the day the car is delivered, to give back the car and receive a full new car refund – you don’t need to give a reason for why you want a refund.
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The Motor Ombudsman is a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider who can assist with disputes that arise between consumers and Code-accredited businesses. If this article has not answered your questions and if you have a complaint about a business please visit our complaints page to find out what to do next.