Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

WATCHDOGS WARN OF GROWING MISERY FOR CAR BUYERS

 

The West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service warn car buyers of the growing misery inflicted by a minority of car traders within the county who operate either illegally, or in a predatory manner. The principal abuse is the sale of ‘clocked’ high mileage ex-fleet vehicles, sometimes with forged service books. The following statistics are indicative of a serious and ongoing problem: 

 

Consumers are urged to take steps to avoid becoming part of these statistics by buying vehicles from reputable, established garages. Many garages within the county have now joined the Service’s Motor Trade Partnership Scheme. Look for the logo-it indicates that the organisation is customer focused, follows good trading practice and has an approved complaint resolution scheme.

The following steps should minimise the dangers of buying clocked or misdescribed vehicles from dealers:

 

1.      Decide how much you wish to pay. Use car magazines and price guides to identify vehicles available for that price. DO NOT EXCEED THIS AMOUNT.

2.      Advertisements. READ THEM AND KEEP THEM. Look for established businesses and the Motor Trade Partnership logo. Remember Motor Magazines do not vet advertisers. If the advertised price is unexpectedly low suspect  hidden problems.

3.      CHECK THE VEHICLE OVER. For a fee the Motoring organisations will report in detail. Look out for undue wear on the pedals/gear lever/ steering wheel-these are the signs of high mileage. Question the dealer about the vehicle.

4.      Insist on seeing the vehicle’s REGISTRATION DOCUMENT and SERVICE BOOK. Note the name and address of the last keeper and/or the last garage to service the vehicle. IF THESE DOCUMENTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL THEY ARE AVAILABLE.

5.      Leave the premises and verify everything you’ve been told. Carry out an HPI check and phone the last keeper or servicing agent to confirm the mileage.

 

Many people are confused by the function of disclaimer notices. These are stickers found on speedometers which typically read:

 

TRADE DESCRIPTIONS ACT 68

WE HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO CONFIRM THE MILEAGE OF THIS VEHICLE

HOWEVER TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF THE READING IS CORRECT/INCORRECT.

 

They are intended to allow a dealer to sell a vehicle when, despite his best efforts he cannot confirm the reading is correct (eg an old or imported vehicle). If it is your intention to purchase a genuine mileage vehicle, proceed no further. If you have negotiated the purchase of a vehicle on the basis that the mileage is right DON’T SIGN A DISCLAIMER ON THE INVOICE.

If the disclaimer has been applied to a 3 years old, one owner vehicle, with 36-45,000 miles on the clock, the dealer could be hiding the vehicle’s true history. Confirming the mileage of such a vehicle should be straightforward. Dishonest dealers often claim that the mileage is really OK and they’re just waiting for the documents, DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THOSE DOCUMENTS!

Martin Wood, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Joint Services said,

 “A small minority of dishonest motor traders are causing significant problems for both the public and the Trading Standards Service. All these traders are known to the Service. Large profits are being made by offloading clocked vehicles on the innocent but often all-too-trusting public. There is no substitute for thoroughly checking a vehicle and its documents before making a purchase, however our Motor Trade Partnership scheme is designed to inspire confidence in used car buying and we hope people will look for the logo.”

If consumers do have any concerns they should contact the Consumer Helpline on 01133 848 848 between 8.30-6.30 Monday to Friday and 9.00-1.00 on Saturdays. Alternatively log on to our website at www.adviceline.org.uk or contact our minicom on 0113 2892 265.

 

For further information please contact:

 

Paul Cooper                             Divisional Manager 0113 2898240

David Lodge,                           Principal Trading Standards Officer 0113 2898243

Andrew Bibby,                         Call Centre Manager 0113 2898237