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I'm pondering whether to pursue a claim through the disputes tribunal regarding a car I bought privately.

The car was purchased based on statements made by the seller which have turned out to be misleading and a resultant loss has occurred.

I was told the car had a new battery and thermostat and had been regularly serviced.

It turns out the "new thermostat" was installed in 2007 so in my option it's not new.

The seller also stated their mechanic had assured them that the car was in great condition and shouldn't need any work for quite some time.

The reality is the car broke down within three weeks of the purchase and now requires expensive repairs to make roadworthy again.

Clearly the car has not been well maintained and was not in 'great condition' when sold otherwise it would not have broken down.


From the "Ask Jack" archives - 7 December 2009


If this goes to court you have to prove the car was deliberately misrepresented at the time of sale.

Where this gets very complicated is determining what does 'misrepresented' really mean?

The seller could honestly believe they have done nothing wrong in saying the thermostat is new even though it was replaced in 2007. It could be strongly argued any potential buyer should have asked for evidence of the replacement thermostat before committing to buy.

Because the thermostat is not original it could also be argued the seller was simply stating it was replaced with a new part.

Regarding the comments from the 'mechanic'. The seller could argue that is what they were told and they are not qualified to question the mechanics comments. The mechanic could be somebody who briefly looked at the vehicle on a given day when it was performing to an acceptable standard. Or the seller could simply say the mechanic obviously did not check the car properly, but that is not their fault.

And what is well maintained? Did you as the potential buyer ask specifically how well was the car maintained. In other words did it meet your standards or understanding of the term 'well maintained'.

Mike, the seller has no doubt stretched the truth but everyone trying to sell something does to a certain extent.

When anyone is looking to buy a car privately they need to keep asking questions to satisfy themselves that the car meets their expectations.

Asking for another opinion via a vehicle inspection report from your local garage or the AA is another check any potential buyer should strongly consider.

It is very much buyer beware when buying privately I'm afraid. A Warrant of Fitness less than one month old is the only legal requirement the seller must meet.

If you do proceed and take court action, I think the odds may be stacked against you to be honest.