AN operation to target the sellers of dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles and protect road users, carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, found that 25 per cent of the garages visited had unroadworthy cars for sale on their forecourt.
Trading Standards Officers made unannounced visits to 16 garages across all five districts and boroughs and chosen using consumer complaint data.
A vehicle expert was employed to carry out a thorough examination of 31 cars, of which five were found to have so many faults that they were deemed dangerous and unroadworthy.
Faults included damaged brakes, illegal tyres, seatbelt mounting corrosion and steering and suspension faults.
All garage owners were advised of their responsibilities and further enforcement action will be undertaken in the future.
Trading Standards in Warwickshire receive more complaints about cars than about anything else.
These latest checks form part of a rolling programme of mystery shopper exercises that have led to a number of successful prosecutions including last year, when a garage was fined and ordered to pay costs of over £9,000 after selling an unroadworthy vehicle it described as ‘in good condition’ and ‘drives very well without faults’.
Officers say a purchaser’s consumer rights are much stronger when buying from a trader rather than a private seller. Traders may also offer warranties on vehicles they sell, but buyers will probably pay more for the car than from a private seller.
Before buying , check the vehicle’s history. You can check a car’s MOT history online for free by visiting www.check-mot.service.gov.uk
There are also a number of free and paid for apps that enable buyers to discover if the car they are buying has been stolen, written off or has outstanding finance.
If you’re not a vehicle expert, consider paying for an independent vehicle check. A basic check will cost about £100.
Do a visual check of the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Check the tyre tread depth and underneath the car for repairs, severe corrosion and oil leaks.
If you buy a car from a trader and subsequently have problems, you do have a legal right to reject the vehicle or request a repair or replacement, dependent upon circumstances. Contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice on 03454 04 05 06 or visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards