Q: I am thinking of buying a second-hand car from a dealer and would like to know whether I am entitled to ask for a guarantee from the seller?

A: When consumers buy goods from professional traders, their purchase is protected by the provisions of the Consumer Affairs Act. This legislation defines goods as any movable property, whether tangible or intangible, and does not exclude second-hand goods. Hence, since the car will be purchased from a dealer  and not from an individual, the two-year protection provided by this legislation applies.

It may be difficult to prove the defect was hidden and not the result of wear and tear

This protection gives consumers the right to claim a free remedy from sellers if the product purchased does not conform with the description and specifications in the contract of sale.

In other words, you may be entitled to a free remedy if the car sold to you:

• does not possess the characteristics, features and qualities promised to you by the trader; or

• is not fit for the purpose for which cars of the same type are normally used or for the purpose for which you require the car and had informed the seller about when concluding the sales agreement; or

• is not of the same the quality or does not deliver the performance that is normal in cars of the same type and which the consumer can reasonably expect, given the nature of the car and taking into account any public statements on the specific characteristics of the car made by the trader.

It is however important that when buying second-hand cars, consumers keep in mind that these are used products, and if they turn out to be defective, it may be difficult to prove that the defect was hidden and not the result of normal wear and tear; in case of the latter, such defects are not covered by consumer legislation.

To ensure that the car purchased is in good working condition, consumers are advised to have the car checked by a trusted mechanic before concluding the sale.

It is also advisable to opt to buy from sellers who are willing to give a voluntary commercial guarantee with the purchased car.

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