London Trading Standards (LTS) has conducted research looking at online adverts for 155 used cars, most professing to be from private sellers in London. Of the adverts investigated, 18 of the vehicles had outstanding safety recalls, and six didn’t match their advertised mileage, suggesting the odometer had been tampered with, or ‘clocked’.
Trading standards found further disparities between the adverts and the vehicles on sale when 10 vehicles were found to be insurance write-offs, a fact omitted from the advert. Though this is a legal requirement for traders, private sellers are under no obligation to inform buyers of insurance write-offs, as long as the vehicle is considered legally road-worthy.
Of the cars examined, 18 were either untaxed or had no MOT, so it would be illegal to take them for a test drive.
Nicola Tudor, Chair of LTS’ Fair Trading Group, said: “Don’t get taken for a ride when buying a car. It’s not a bargain if it’s unsafe or clocked, so check it out first at https://www.gov.uk/buy-a-vehicle. Trading Standards looks to protect consumers by enforcing the law in relation to the sale of used cars so if you suspect that a seller is not complying with legal requirements or not recognising your rights, report them to Trading Standards via the Consumer Advice helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
According to LTS, approximately one in six of the ‘private’ sellers were likely to be traders. Trading standards often find rogue traders posing as private sellers to take advantage of the fewer protections offered to their buyers.
CTSI Lead Officer for Motor Trade Owen Kennedy commented: “It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a new car and forget the basics, but remember that you don’t have the same rights when buying from a private individual.
“Check all the paperwork diligently, and use the DVLA or other online services before viewing the vehicle. You should also consider whether it’s worth having the vehicle inspected by an independent engineer or garage. Many car sales go through without a hitch, but you should always remain vigilant.”
London Trading Standards is a coordinated partnership of 33 local authority trading standards services across London, sharing intelligence and working collaboratively to ensure each service can maintain consumer protection despite severe cuts to public resources.
The warning came on the third day of London Trading Standards Week, an initiative designed to promote and raise awareness about the wide range of work carried out by Trading Standards Services across London. Further details about the rest of the campaign can be found on the website, www.londontradingstandards.org.uk.