The OFT found 17,200 people reported a problem with their car, with poor after sales service, illegal ‘clocking’, inaccurate documentation and traders posing as private sellers the reasons behind many of the complaints.
The report calls for more awareness of the legislation surrounding buying a second hand car from buyers and the OFT has warned dealers they face the threat of action from the both the OFT and Trading Standards if they fail to comply.
Customers are suffering because they are not visiting respected national dealers, says the OFT.
Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the Office of Fair Trading’s Consumer group, said: "Many dealers provide high standards of service and comply fully with the law but there continues to be high numbers of complaints to Consumer Direct which are often due to dealers’ refusing to deal with legitimate complaints or provide appropriate redress.
"Along with our Trading Standards partners, we will take action against those dealers who continue to ignore the law.’
Nearly two-thirds of all complaints came within three months of buying a second hand car, and consumers paid an average of £425 to fix the unresolved faults, adding up to an estimated £85 million a year.
However, the OFT warns it was the legal obligation of the dealer to fix many of the problems under the Sale of Goods Act.
It also identified the problem of clocking – the illegal practise of manually lowering a vehicles mileage display – and dealers failing to reveal information from a car’s history as some of the reasons customers are being ‘duped’ when buying a second hand car.
Dealers are even posing as private sellers in order to illegally claim ‘no refund’ policies, claims the OFT.
The OFT advises consumers to check the history and mileage of a car carefully before buying and put everything in writing when the car is bought.
Customers must always find out about the dealer’s customer complaint procedure and Code of Conduct, warns the OFT.
Consumers who are concerned they have been unfairly treated by a company can contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06, or visit the Consumer Direct website.