What Do I Do If I Bought A Faulty Car On Finance?

mariam-abu-hussein
Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 22nd May 2024

If you have bought a car on finance, only to have it break down on you due to a fault, you're not alone. Many consumers face similar challenges, discovering defects or malfunctions in vehicles they've financed from mechanical issues, electrical faults, and safety concerns, to cosmetic damage.

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In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about your consumer rights if you've bought a faulty car on finance.

What do I do if I bought a faulty car on finance?

If you have bought a car on finance and it's turned out to be faulty, you should inform the seller or dealership immediately, explain the issue, and request a repair, replacement, or refund. 

Am I protected by consumer rights if I bought a faulty car on finance?


In the UK, consumer rights are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This legislation provides legal protection for consumers who purchase goods, including vehicles.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, goods, including cars, must meet certain standards. Specifically, they must be:

  • Of satisfactory quality.

  • Fit for purpose.

  • As described. 

So, if you buy a car for daily commuting, it should be capable of reliably transporting you from one place to another. Similarly, if the vehicle was advertised as having certain features or characteristics, it should have those. 

If the car you purchased does not meet these standards and is found to be faulty you are entitled to a repair, replacement, or refund. These consumer rights apply regardless of how you paid for the car, whether through cash, debit card, credit card, or finance.

Should I contact the finance company if I discover faults with the car?

It's advisable to contact the finance company if you discover faults with the car you purchased on finance.

When you buy a car through a finance agreement, the finance company essentially owns the vehicle until you've paid off the loan or finance agreement. Therefore, they have a vested interest in ensuring that the car meets certain quality and performance standards.

By contacting the finance company, you can make sure they are aware of the fault and can take appropriate action to resolve the issue. This may involve working with you and the seller or dealership to find a resolution, such as a repair, replacement, or refund.

Be sure to provide them with all relevant information, including details of the faults, any correspondence with the seller or dealership, and any documentation supporting your case.

What counts as a fault? 

A fault with a vehicle refers to any defect, malfunction, or issue that affects its performance, safety, or functionality.

Mechanical faults 

Mechanical faults can include problems with the engine, transmission, brakes, steering, suspension, or other mechanical components of the vehicle. This could range from minor issues like a faulty sensor or a loose connection to more serious problems like engine or brake failure.

Electrical faults

Electrical faults involve issues with the vehicle's electrical system, such as faulty wiring, blown fuses, malfunctioning lights, or problems with electronic control units (ECUs) and onboard computer systems. These issues can affect various systems in the vehicle, including lighting, climate control, entertainment, and safety features.

Safety defects 

Safety faults are defects that pose a risk to the safety of the vehicle's occupants or other road users. This could include issues like faulty airbags, defective seat belts, malfunctioning anti-lock braking systems (ABS), or structural weaknesses that compromise crashworthiness.

Cosmetic damage 

While not necessarily affecting the vehicle's performance or safety, cosmetic faults refer to damage or imperfections to the vehicle's exterior or interior appearance. This could include scratches, dents, paint chips, upholstery tears, or other aesthetic issues that detract from the vehicle's overall condition.

Can you cancel a car finance agreement if the car is faulty?

Consumers have the right to reject goods that are faulty, unfit for purpose, or not as described. If the faults with the car are significant and cannot be resolved satisfactorily, you may be entitled to reject the vehicle and cancel the finance agreement.

You generally have a limited period in which to reject a faulty vehicle and cancel the finance agreement. The exact timeframe can vary depending on the circumstances, but it's typically within 30 days of taking ownership. However, this period may be extended if the faults only become apparent later.

If you want to cancel a car finance agreement due to faults with the vehicle, you should notify the finance company in writing of your intention to reject the car, providing details of the fault. You will typically be required to return the vehicle to the seller or dealership as part of the process.

If you successfully reject the vehicle and cancel the finance agreement, you are entitled to a refund of any payments made, including the deposit, finance charges, and monthly payments. The finance company may also refund any interest you've paid.

What if the seller or dealership refuses to address the faults?

If the seller or dealership refuses to address the faults, remind them of your consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This legislation requires that goods, including vehicles, be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. If the vehicle has faults that were not disclosed or that render it unfit for its intended purpose, you are entitled to a remedy.

In the first instance, document your concerns with the vehicle and any communication with the seller or dealership in writing. This could include sending an email or letter detailing the faults, your attempts to resolve the issue, and your expectations for a resolution. Keeping a written record can help support your case if further action is necessary.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to contact relevant authorities or regulatory bodies, such as Trading Standards or the Motor Ombudsman, to report the seller or dealership's conduct and seek assistance in resolving the dispute

However, if you believe your consumer rights have been breached and you're unable to resolve the issue through negotiation or mediation, consider seeking legal advice from a solicitor specialising in consumer law. They can assess your case, provide guidance on your options, and represent your interests if necessary.

At Lawhive, our network of experienced litigation solicitors is on hand to help with consumer credit disputes.

For more information on how we can help, contact us today.

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