Worried about your rights when buying a used car? Here’s what you need to know


South African consumers are increasingly turning to used cars due to supply chain issues and the long waiting list for some vehicles.

However, many consumers are worried about their rights when they buy a secondhand car because they think they are simply buying someone else’s problems.

Fortunately, you have certain rights according to various sections of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) that protect you when you buy a used vehicle.

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Marketing a used car

Section 29, that deals with the general standards of marketing, stipulates that no producer, importer, distributor, retailer or service provider is allowed to market a secondhand car in a way that could reasonably a false or misleading representation about the vehicle, including the nature, properties, advantages or uses of the car, the price or any other material aspect.

This also means that the dealer cannot lie about how many kilometres the car has done.

This is supported by section 41 that stipulates that car dealers are not allowed to give you false information about the vehicle imply something that is untrue or fail to tell you about something important such as that the car was involved in an accident before.

It is also the dealer’s responsibility to correct any misconception that you may have, such as that the car is energy efficient if it is not.

You can also not be misled about any performance characteristics, accessories, uses, benefits, qualities, sponsorship, approval, standard, quality, grade, style or model.

The dealer must also tell you the truth about whether the vehicle is new or unused or have been reconditioned or reclaimed.

He must also stick to the truth and not tell you the car only belonged to an old lady who only drove it to the shops if it was in fact owned by a few people who did not look after it.

After-sales service

When you buy a secondhand vehicle the dealer must also be honest about the availability of facilities to service, maintain and repair the car.

The dealer must also tell you the truth about price benefits and the sales staff must be able to transact with you.

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Is the dealer allowed to sell the car?

In this case section 44 of the Act, about your right to assume the dealer is entitled to sell the car, is very important, especially since you buy a used car.

This section stipulates that you have the right to assume that the dealer has the legal right to sell the car and the dealer also carries the risk should the vehicle be stolen.

Safe and of good quality

According to section 55, the used car you buy must be safe and of good quality, but this section is not applicable if you bought the vehicle at an auction.

You have the right to buy a car that is reasonably suitable for the purpose it is intended for.

The vehicle must be of good quality, in good order and free of any defects and useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, depending on what you will generally use it for, unless the dealer has told you expressly about defects on the car and you already agreed to buy it.

Seen that the dealer sells cars, you can also in terms of this section assume that he will give you good advice when you explain what you will use the vehicle for.

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The implied warranty

Section 56 is also very important when you buy a used car and guarantees that the car adheres to the standards set in section 55.

If this is not the case, you can return the vehicle within six months after buying it and the dealer has to repair it, exchange it or give your money back.

In addition, this repair work is guaranteed for three months and if it breaks down again within this time, the dealer must repair it or give your money back.

When can you simply return the car and claim your money back?

Remember that you cannot just return the vehicle and get your money back due to a small defect on the car such as a broken window switch.

While you cannot open the window, you can still drive the vehicle and that is what you bought it for. However, the dealer must still repair the window on his cost.

Where to complain about used cars

If you have a problem with a used car, contact the Motor Industry Ombudsman through its website at www.miosa.co.za.