How to go about rejecting a faulty car

rejecting a car
You might end up deciding to reject a car if your dealer can’t fix it satisfactorily (Picture iStock/Skynesher)

Increasing numbers of owners are rejecting their cars. Law company Stormcatcher claims people seeking legal advice for rejecting a car has skyrocketed over recent months.

But what does rejecting a car mean and if you want to do it, how do you go about it? Read on for all the ins and outs.

How can you reject a car?

Imagine you’ve bought a car from a dealer and it has a persistent fault. The good news is the 2015 Consumer Rights Act is on your side. You have a right to reject the car and get your money back.

What does rejecting a car mean?

This is when you hand the car back to the organisation that sold it to you in exchange for a full refund. Any finance should be cancelled and you should not be left out of pocket. Remember, you cannot reject a car if you’ve bought it from a private seller.

Rejecting a car is a process that should be considered the last resort if you’ve completely lost faith in the garage’s ability to fix the car’s problem(s).

When can you reject a car?

This depends on when you notice the problem with the car. Let’s say you buy the car from a dealer and there’s a problem with the brakes pulling to one side as you drive home. The problem has arisen within 30 days of buying the car and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says you can reject it for a full refund.

If you’re otherwise delighted with the car, you could accept the garage repairing the brakes. They might even offer you a replacement car, although you don’t have to accept it.

When can’t you reject a car?

If you’re driving the car home and you realise it doesn’t have sat nav, you can’t reject it (unless the seller claimed it had sat nav). If the car has light bodywork damage, that isn’t sufficient reason for it to be rejected either, although you are entitled to having it repaired.

You can’t reject a car for a fault that’s happened following damage or wear that’s occurred while you’ve owned the car.

What if you reject a car after 30 days

If the problem comes to light after 30 days but before six months of ownership is up, the law assumes that the problem was present when the car was sold to you. This means you don’t have to prove when the fault occurred. The dealer must have at least one chance to fix the problem.

If that doesn’t work, you can then move to reject the car. The dealer doesn’t have to refund you the full amount. It can claim money off what you paid for the car to cover the mileage you’ve done and the vehicle’s depreciation during the months you’ve owned it. There is no fixed method for calculating this.

rejecting a car
Buying a new car should make you happy. Rejecting it should be the last resort (Picture iStock/Nazar_ab)

What if you reject the car after six months?

After six months, the law is no longer in your favour. If you want to reject the car, you can still do so. But you must now prove that the problem was present when the car was sold to you.

This is difficult because you need compelling evidence that the fault was there when you took delivery of the car rather than the day afterwards. And you need to remember and prove things that happened more than six months ago which is frequently almost impossible.

Is rejecting a car simple?

Actually, no it isn’t. A dealer isn’t going to welcome giving you a wodge of cash and taking back a car. Particularly as that car may have a problem. It will want to assess the fault and may not agree that the vehicle should be rejected.

If the problem arises before six months is up, the dealer may agree to take the vehicle back. But it may not pay you a sum of money that you’re happy with.

What if you’re not happy with the dealer?

If you don’t agree with the rejection terms or you can’t agree with the dealer that the car needs replacing, you can go to arbitration. Some garages will belong to trade bodies that offer mediation in these cases. The Motor Ombudsman is one such service.

If that doesn’t work you can start legal action against the garage. But this is complicated. Most garages will require an independent inspection of the car from a third party to back up your claim.

Are there other avenues?

New cars are always sold with warranties and used cars frequently are too. Rather than rejecting the car, it’s often much easier to have a fault repaired under warranty (assuming the warranty covers the fault).

Alternatively, car dealers might suggest that rather than you rejecting the car, they will repair it and give you compensation. Again, this is easier than going through the rigmarole of handing the car back.

Read more about the 2015 Consumer Rights Act here

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