Half of all used cars go wrong ‘within a month’

With over seven million secondhand cars purchased in 2012, you’d expect one or two to develop a problem soon after purchase. But rather shockingly, as many as half of all used cars sold develop faults within a month of changing hands.

That’s according to a report by the Citizens Advice Bureau, which helped with over 84,000 problems with secondhand motors in the past 12 months. Drivers spent over £363 million on these problems alone, making it the most complained about problem Citizens Advice received.

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Amazingly, in as many as 139 of the cases, the car was deemed to be unfit for the road and only good for scrap. A pretty grim statistic, given than the average amount spent on a used car is just over £5,000. As scrap, the car is a few hundred pounds at best.

The findings come off the back of a new campaign aimed at steering people away from buying a dodgy used car.

The campaign – which is backed by the National Trading Standards Institute – urges people to ‘check it, don’t regret it’, encouraging motorists to ensure the car is safe and legal to drive, before handing over their hard-earned cash.

Many of the checks are basic and some are even free, such as checking the MOT certificate, service history and V5 document. Other checks involve a small fee, such as obtaining a report to ensure the car isn’t subject to outstanding finance or previously involved in a serious accident.

Three-quarters of all complaints involved cars bought from an independent dealer, cases in which the consumer has a number of rights.

Citizens Advice can tell you more, but in short, a car must match its description, be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose and be roadworthy.

If in doubt, walk away. There are plenty of used cars to choose from.

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