One in three used car buyers lied to about problems

Updated: 

giant lemon

A third of used car buyers have been misled about a used car they have bought - and feel they have been saddled with a 'lemon'. Almost one in four say they suspect that they were lied to about mechanical faults.

So how can you protect yourself from the lemons?

Lies

Research by AA Cars found that 30% of people thought they have been misled in some way about the previous history of their car. Some 23% say they suspected their car had mechanical or other faults about which they were misled at the time of the sale.

In addition, another 11% of buyers suspect that their car had been involved in an accident during an earlier ownership.

Other problems that buyers have discovered after buying their car include 'clocking' - 5% say that they found the mileage of their car was greater than that indicated on the odometer while an unfortunate 1% discovered that that the car still had outstanding finance.

David Bruce, director of AA Cars said that the results of the study were startling, adding: "These are potentially serious issues. If a car has been involved in a crash and not well repaired there could be safety implications. If there's money still owed on the car, the finance company could claim it back, leaving the buyer with nothing but a large hole in his or her bank account."

Protect yourself

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. There are a number of different services which carry out checks on the car and its history. The AA itself offers both - its online buying service automatically carries out a check of the vehicle's history for free, while it also offers an additional vehicle inspection service - for a cost. The RAC will also do inspections and car checks from £135.

You can also carry out a vehicle check, which confirms the vehicle's identity and the number of registered keepers the vehicle has had. In addition, it verifies whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen, has finance owing on it, is a write-off, or has had a number plate change. It also includes a mileage check, protecting you from the risk of buying a clocked vehicle. These are available from a number of suppliers including HPI, Autotrader and Experian.

Some research you can do yourself. First of all check that the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle match any paperwork. If not, you are not seeing the true history of the car and should walk away.

It's also important to check the paperwork matches up. "We urge buyers to request to see all of the vehicle documentation, most importantly the logbook or 'V5'," explains Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager for HPI. "This will confirm the name of the registered keeper, their address and key information about the vehicle. Does this tally with the seller's details and the information on all other documentation, such as the service and MOT records? Any discrepancy may mean that the vehicle has something to hide."

"Buyers should look out for wear and tear on the vehicle," continues Johnson. "Excessive stone chips on the bonnet often indicate a high motorway mileage. Be suspicious of a car with a worn gear lever, steering wheel or driver's seat, that displays low mileage on the odometer. These are clues which could be a sign of 'clocking'"

There are a few further checks that even the non-mechanically minded can make. Signs of bad welding, joins and oil leaks could indicate accident repairs. Also, make sure the colour of the paintwork under the bonnet matches the outside of the car.