New car rights: Can I reject my car?

Sep 22, 2015

Our simple guide will ensure you’re protected if anything goes wrong on your new car

Buying a new car should be exciting, but what happens if something disastrous goes wrong once you’ve got your hands on the keys?

Patchy reliability and faulty engines can be stressful, but the good news is that the UK has strict laws designed to protect consumers. It's worth knowing that in many cases, you’ve got the law on your side.

You have a right under consumer protection legislation to expect the car to be of ‘satisfactory quality’. This means it should get you form A to B without breaking down, it should be fit for use, as described and free of faults.

As of 1 October 2015, the Sale of Goods Act from 1979 will be replaced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. One important difference is that consumers are entitled to a full refund on any product that is found to be faulty in the first 30 days of ownership. This replaces the previous rule, which stated that retailers only needed to replace or repair the faulty item.

If a fault develops after 30 days but within six months of purchase, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 allows dealers one chance to repair or replace the car; after that, buyers are entitled to a full or partial refund

However, remember that driver-error accidents and normal wear and tear isn’t covered, so things like brake pads, clutches and tyres are unlikely to be replaced free of charge.

Before you reject a faulty car

If a new car is faulty, you can reject it, but this should be a last resort and only after you’ve tried to resolve any issues with the dealer. If they offer to fix any problems, make sure to get any agreements in writing, and keep a record of everything that happens. Also, make sure you understand any costs involved before you allow the dealer to proceed.

If you reject a car

However, if you do decide to reject the car, you must do this within six months of taking delivery. You should hand over your keys to the dealer you bought the car from, and give your reasons for rejecting the car in writing, being as specific as possible, and remember to keep a copy of the letter for yourself.

The dealer could refuse to accept the rejection, however, and if this happens, go straight to the manufacturer. They may be able to help negotiate a compromised settlement on your behalf.

Rejecting a car purchased on finance

If you’ve bought your car on finance, rejecting the car can be a little trickier. This comes down to the fact that you don’t legally own the car until you’ve paid the final instalment of your agreement, which in truth could be three or four years away.

Instead, the car belongs to the finance company. If you didn’t organise the arrangement though the manufacturer (e.g. Ford), you may need to ask the finance company to speak to the supplying dealer. If this doesn’t work, you can talk to Trading Standards, the RAC or the AA.

So remember, rejecting your new car should be your final option. Always give your dealer a chance to rectify any faults, before giving the car back or reporting the case to Trading Standards.

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