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How to complain about a second hand car

What to do when your secondhand car purchase goes wrong

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When things go wrong after a test drive – you can complain

Elaine lives in Formby, Merseyside and bought a car from a local dealer. The vehicle was a Vauxhall Meriva 2011 model.

The test drive was good but she agreed with the dealer that he would replace the cam belt a week after she collected it from the garage. When Elaine collected the car and drove it away she heard a grinding noise which wasn’t present at the test drive. She contacted the dealer who said he would check it over when they changed the cam belt.

Secondhand car issues

 Over the next few days other issues arose. Elaine noticed:

1) The boot liner had not been fixed. This was one of the things that should have been corrected before she collected the car.

2) The gear stick moved up and down when in gear and moving.

3) The electric handbrake didn’t work properly when reversing uphill. It would still roll forward even when she applied the accelerator and was in reverse.

4) The air conditioning didn’t work.

5) The brakes were grinding as reported on an advisory on the MOT the year before. This was not noted in the MOT that was completed the day before she collected the vehicle. However, Elaine felt that they had not been done.

6) The gearbox needed new bearings.

The car went back to the dealers for the cam belt, as arranged, and Elaine provided the list of other faults.

Elaine was given a courtesy car to use while hers was being fixed. She described it as “the loaner from the Jim Carey film The Mask. Disgustingly dirty inside and out. Dodgy clutch, cigarette ash in every nook and cranny. I also think that the starter motor was on way out. I got stuck in a multi storey car park as I struggled to get it started.”

Returning the car for a refund

By now, Elaine had had enough and decided she wanted her money back. Her boyfriend took the loan car back to the dealer and told him Elaine would not drive it.

He got the Meriva  back, although it was still not fixed. She was told that she could not have refund.

That’s when Elaine contacted me!

The Complaining Cow advises on returning a second hand car for a refund

Elaine took my advice and returned the car to the dealer and so stopped using it completely. She informed them that she was rejecting the car. I advised that she followed this up with a letter of rejection. By now she had received her copy of my book! So she was able to use the template letter to file a formal letter of complaint!

The following day the car dealer boss telephoned Elaine and agreed to a full refund. Elaine was delighted with how easy it was. “Happy days! Thank you for your help”, she told me.

Need help in getting a refund for car?

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See All you need to know about car purchasing, financing and garages for more information and advice regarding how to complain about cars and garages.




How to complain effectively, Top 20 Tips to ensure you get what you want form complaint letters.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For more templates, advice, information on holidays and most other sectors Get the Book! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! 

front of a red car grass in background how to complain about a second hand car