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Can I Reject a Car for Poor Paintwork or Badly Repaired Damage?

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There is a commonly held opinion amongst car dealers and solicitors dealing with the motor trade that a customer can’t reject a vehicle based on poor paintwork or previously badly repaired bodywork.

This idea is derived from an interpretation of s9(4) Consumer Rights Act 2015 which states that when a customer examines a car, anything that could have been revealed by that examination cannot be held as making it of unsatisfactory quality. In short, if you viewed it, it doesn’t count.

However, how does this sit in relation to the previous section, s9(3)(b) which states that the quality of the goods includes “appearance and finish?”

This was the subject of a recent county court claim, where a consumer purchased a late model Audi A6 for close to £20,000 from a dealer. The customer attended the dealer’s premises and viewed it, although it was late in the day, in fading light and it was raining. Nevertheless, after asking whether the car had had any accident damage and the salesperson answering “no,” the customer bought it.

Within a day or two of collecting the Audi, the parking sensor, reversing camera and one of the headlights seemed to be faulty, so the car was booked in for inspection by a local garage.

This revealed the light, camera and parking sensors needing to be replaced but more troubling, was the visible signs of fairly large areas of substandard paintwork, leading to the possibility that it had been involved in a crash.

Further expert inspection revealed signs of filler, poor preparation, colour difference and poor finish to the bumper, bonnet, wing and door which required redoing to bring it up to standard. However, the dealer continued to resist liability as if the customer was responsible for his own negligence in failing to notice the problem.

It was here that, in my view, the motor trade legal provider should have given due consideration as to how they were intending to rebut or discredit not only one expert opinion but two? Even Houdini couldn’t escape from that, surely!?

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the existence of the defect that they were disputing, but liability for rectification, as if to say “we know it’s been in an accident and badly repaired, but you should’ve noticed it.”

In reality, given the time of day, the weather and the way the car was parked, it seems more likely that the reality was concealed.

While the judge was not prepared to be drawn on “motive” he was under no doubt that the poor repair and paintwork was enough to consider the car not of satisfactory quality, ordering judgment for the cost of the rectification work, interest and costs.

Stormcatcher Law acted for the Claimant in bringing a successful claim against the dealer.

For more information about the issues raised in this article, or if you need advice about your new or used car, contact us today for free initial legal advice.