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Crackdown on unscrupulous second-hand car dealers

Published 7th June 2018

Potential second-hand car buyers are being urged to make sure that any vehicles they test-drive from a dealer have a valid MOT certificate.

The warning comes from Sandwell’s trading standards team as it continues its crackdown on unscrupulous used-car dealers.

A recent week of action saw officers carrying out in-depth forecourt inspections at eight independent second-hand car dealers.

Visits highlighted that some dealers are letting a vehicle’s  MOT certificate expire before the sale and yet  are still letting buyers test drive them on the public highway which is an offence.

 This could result in the driver, the dealer or a member of their staff receiving a fixed penalty notice, points on their driving licence or a fine of up to £1,000.

Inspections revealed a number of issues ranging from an unsafe car being offered for sale - which was removed from sale -  to misleading descriptions being made about vehicles.

 Another dealer was cautioned over misleading descriptions being made about vehicles including a car being described as HPI clear - when it had previously been written off.

 An HPI check shows if a car still has outstanding finance on it, has been stolen or written off.

Dealers visited were reminded of their legal responsibilities and follow up visits will be made to the dealers causing concern to make sure improvements are made.

Officers also looked at dealers’ terms and conditions  as well as their complaints policies to make sure they were legal.

Bob Charnley, Sandwell Council’s trading standards manager, said: “Traders need to be aware of their responsibilities when selling vehicles. It is not enough for them to advertise cars for sale without carrying out the appropriate  checks. Our trading standards officers are visiting premises and will take action where non-compliances are found.”

Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell’s cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “Second-hand cars is one of the most complained about areas for trading standards. I’m really pleased to see officers tackling this issue to ensure a fair deal for all.”

Anyone looking to buy a second-hand car should carry out some basic checks before buying the vehicle.

  • Check the MOT history which is available free of charge using the DVSA’s online MOT history checker tool
  • Look for suspicious gaps or evidence that the car has needed frequent repairs.
  • Buy an HPI check to make sure it’s not been written off, stolen or subject to finance.
  • Make sure you inspect the car and take it for a test drive, preferably in daylight.

For more information on what to look for and your consumer rights.