Avoiding dodgy deals on wheels

Officers from Barnsley Council are joining Trading Standards Services across the Yorkshire and the Humber Region in warning consumers about the importance of doing essential research before buying a used car.

The warning follows twelve days of action in February and March when officers checked 176 vehicles being offered for sale by 20 different businesses. 

Checks were made to assess the accuracy of advertisements and roadworthiness; there was an issue with 83 per cent of vehicles assessed.

There was a pricing discrepancy with 91 vehicles being advertised. The biggest difference between advertised and actual price was £2,698.

Other discrepancies related to mileage, keeper details, service history and length of MOT remaining.

A motor engineer conducted on-site inspections of 64 of the vehicles across all the businesses. The engineer’s report concluded that 17 of these vehicles were unsafe in their current state.  29 of the vehicles inspected were described as in a dangerous or potentially dangerous condition.

Matt Boxall, City of York Council and Chair of Yorkshire and the Humber Trading Standards Group, said: “The high number of problems found on the days of action is unacceptable. Consumers should take some reassurance in knowing that the businesses visited were targeted because Trading Standards had received complaints about them.”

A range of appropriate enforcement actions have been instigated with prosecutions planned in the worst cases. 

Owen Kennedy, Chartered Trading Standards Institute Lead Officer for Motor Trade,  said: “Cars remain one of the most expensive and complex consumer items most of us ever buy. When buying second hand it can be very hard even for the most experienced of us to spot the tell-tale signs that should warn us to keep clear. An independent examination of the vehicle could save you from buying a car you later regret. If in any doubt – walk away!”

Tips for consumers looking to purchase a used car include:

  • Do your research. There are free checks that you can undertake to reduce the chances of buying a vehicle that is being sold illegally.
  • View the vehicle in daylight, preferably in dry weather. The AA has a useful checklist for what to look out for when inspecting a used car and its paperwork.
  • Use a trusted trader – an established firm with a good reputation or a member of a trade association such as the South Yorkshire Motor Trade Partnership or the Retail Motor Industry Federation.

For more detailed advice visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Any consumer wishing to report issues about a used car, or any other consumer purchase, should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 03454 04 05 06.

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