Ask an expert


I have a situation that I'm not sure where I stand after selling my car.

I recently got a differential leak fixed and a few weeks later I took it to a different garage (in another town ) and had a Warrant of Fitness inspection which the car passed.

The next day I sold the car. The buyer says that on the way home problems developed. He took it to a garage and was told there was damage due to work incorrectly done on the diff.

He's now saying that under NZ law he can return the car to me and ask for his money back.

Seeing as the car passed its WOF and he didn't get a prepurchase check can he do this?

I wasn't aware of the problem and did not notice it.


From the "Ask Jack" archives - 1 December 2009


When you buy a car privately these are no warranties and it's buyer beware. Your only legal obligation is to ensure the car has a WoF not more than one month old at the time of sale which you did.

If the car was purchased from a Licensed Trader then it could have been returned for the repairs to be assessed and, if failure was through no fault of the new owner, repaired under warranty.

However, if it can be proven you deliberately mislead the buyer or misrepresented the vehicle in some way which resulted in an immediate mechanical failure after purchase, the buyer could take legal advice which may result in court action against you.

I suspect any seller who sold a car in good faith would feel pretty bad if the new owner had a major mechanical failure a day after purchase. It is possible a pre purchase inspection may not have noted the problem either.

If your conscious is clear you have nothing to worry about and have no legal responsibilities to refund any money or accept the car back.

If the failure can be traced back to the previous repair, you do have a moral responsibility in my opinion to contact the original repairer and report what has happened. They may be willing to enter into discussions with the new owner on a possible resolution.