New regulations for used car sellers to make sure consumers get a better deal

carComplaints about second-hand cars are one of the biggest issues people take to the Citizens Advice consumer service. Between April 2013 and March 2014, Citizens Advice dealt with almost 70,000 enquiries relating to second-hand cars and the AA estimates that around 210,000 vehicles sold per year have a major fault. AA research suggests that, even now, 18,000 vehicles a year are sold ‘clocked’- where the odometer is fiddled with to reduce the mileage showing- in order to screw more cash out of the consumer.

However, the Used Car Commission, set up during Consumer Week at the start of November last year, have now decided that sitting around in a room talking about the problems with buying second hand cars isn’t actually achieving anything, and that they might actually have to take some action if they want anything to improve.

The Commission found, during its investigations over the last year, that the industry generally works well for consumers, but it has identified some areas for improvement. In response, Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson has called on the commission to get out of its comfy chairs take forward its proposals to get a better deal for consumers.

The Commission will now oversee implementation of its recommendations including:

closer cooperation between the Police and Trading Standards to target organised criminals who steal vehicles for export, clone them or break them up for parts

the development of a minimum set of requirements for used car codes and trader approval schemes to ensure consumers are better protected and improve customer services

a focus on information gathering on used cars so current and emerging issues can be quickly identified and acted on by police forces and Trading Standards

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Whilst the majority of second-hand car buyers will have a trouble free experience, too many consumers are left with unresolved issues or thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The AA estimates that 750,000 consumers a year face unresolved problems with a used car purchase, so it is clear why the Commission’s work is so important.

The recommendations are an excellent starting point and it is good to see the sector working together to get the best possible outcomes for consumers. I am grateful to all the members of the Commission for their work so far.”

However, before you get too excited it is worth noting that the Used Car Commission does not, in fact, cover sales of all used cars, and therefore neither will its recommendations. The Commission's work specifically excludes the private sale of used cars, so won’t help you with the dodgy chap selling his brand new, perfect condition Ford Fiesta down the road. In fact, according to the BCA Used Car Market Report 2013, that’s 38% of the used car market (using 2012 figures) that won’t see any benefit from this Commission or its recommendations at all…

What do you think?

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