Personal Blog

Why I Will Never Buy Another Car From A Motor Trader

bmw 318iIn January 2013 I bought a car from the forecourt of what appeared to be a legitimate and bona-fide trader. The benefits of buying from a trader boils down to one thing.

If the car is faulty at point of sale (or goes wrong shortly after) it is the trader’s responsibility to fix it – right? Well, that may be the legal position…

The day after purchase I returned the car as the engine management light was illuminated. Initially the trader tried to fob-me-off saying that it was not worth worrying about but if I wanted someone to look at it, he would arrange to an appointment with an engineer. I took the car back at the agreed time, but there was no appointment, the engineer had no interest in looking at it and so the trader turned off the light and told me to bring it back if it came on again. It came on again … As it turned out, there were serious problems with the cooling system. After much anxiety, and much money spent fixing it, the car died a few months later.

During this time I had tried to reach some kind of settlement with the trader, but he was reluctant to engage in any communication. I did not want much from him only the car fixed, or a contribution towards the money I had spent fixing it. However it was only after the commencement of legal action that we were able to reach resolve and we both agreed to an out of court settlement.

During this experience I discovered quite a bit about small-time motor traders and how they operate. The first thing I discovered was that they tell lies. At point of sale the trader told me that he bought his cars from ‘Main Dealers’ and on Fridays he goes around the ‘Main Dealers’ seeing what stock he can buy. I had no reason to disbelieve him until I later saw him at the local Car Auction – on a Friday. I was there looking for a car as a replacement for this one. Many of the traders there seemed only to be interested in one thing: cheap cars which they could make the biggest profit on.

Cars which have ended up in auction might be OK, but then they might be there because the previous owner wants to get rid of it due to faults. Well cared for cars with a good history have documentation to go with it and sell for considerably more at auction than those with unaccounted history. Those with unaccounted history sell cheaply, usually to traders, who will clean them up, make a tidy profit, and hope they do not come back (or if they do they will try to wriggle out of their responsibilities). And that my friends is how second-hand car dealers operate.

I have come to the conclusion that the best way of buying a used car, is to find a private seller. Ideally one owner from new, who has all the history and documentation in order. Or to buy from auction, but to avoid the cars with lack of history which are the ones the traders want to pick up cheaply and put on their forecourts. There are risks however you buy, but the riskier cars tend to be sold by small time traders; side-of-the-road traders, sold-from-home traders and off the forecourt. If they go wrong, they go wrong, but don’t think that buying from a trader offers much protection in a real world scenario.