Cars and garages Case studies complaints resolved for people

How to complain about a second hand car

What to do when your secondhand car purchase goes wrong

steering wheel and dashboard

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


Cars and garages Financial issues Transport ways to save money

All you need to know – car purchasing, financing & garages

How to buy and/or complain about a new or secondhand car and/or a garage

Purchasing a car, second to your own home is probably the biggest purchase many of us will ever make. Most purchases go smoothly although it may not seem like it! Regardless of whether you buy a new or second hand car, at some point it will probably end up in a garage to for service and/or repair.

So I’ve brought together lots of different posts all in one place!

steering wheel and dashboard

Stories of buying cars and complaining

Smart Car Not Smart Enough for this Cow! Gaining redress for faulty new car) This is the story of how my Mum’s new car developed faults for which SmartCar (Mercedez) didn’t want to provide redress. I won.

How to complain about a second hand car story of how I helped Elaine get a full refund for her second hand car

How to protect yourself when purchasing a car and how to complain

Car buyers alert: how not to get fobbed off what you need to know to ensure you are in a good position when buying a new or secondhand car

Everything you need to know about financing your car purchase the different ways of financing your car and what to do if it goes wrong

A guide to credit and debit cards and the Consumer Credit Act 1974 how and when you can complain to your credit card company or bank

The Motor Ombudsman check out if the garage is a member to give you some protection.

What you need to know when using a garage

How not to get fobbed off by a garage (and what to do if you have been!) how to protect yourself when choosing and using a garage

How to save money on car insurance

How to save money on your car insurance lots of tips and ideas on saving money on your car insurance

Do Morethan just comparison websites for insurance quotes! word of warning about only using one site for comparing quotes

Why motor legal protection is a rip off and the free alternative what it says on the tin!

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How to save money on insurance and beat the tactics used to make you renew

More help and advice on effective complaining

Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively the importance of writing not phoning when complaining

For more help on complaining effectively see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo


For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo


Want to get better at complaining? See 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer




5 top tips for complaining effectively

Templates to download to gain redress

The Complaining Cow logo download templates

Save yourself time and effort finding the laws and wording a letter of complaint and download a template, fill in your details and get that redress

Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress


Templates for complaining about vehicles and garages variety of templates to purchase to get the redress to which you are entitled. They also give further advice on what to do if you don’t get a satisfactory response!