Consumer rights when buying a used car in Ireland

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Problems with a used car – your consumer rights

Problems with a used car – your consumer rights

If the used car you purchase turns out to be faulty, you’re not at a complete loss - based on where you purchased your car and how the seller described the vehicle to you, you may have rights and legal protection. Read on to know what your rights are when buying a used car in Ireland. 

You are protected by certain consumer rights when you buy a used car in Ireland. If anything goes wrong, you may be entitled to receive some or even all of your money back. In this blog, we explain under what situations you have this legal protection. 

Don’t assume you don’t have any rights if something goes wrong with the used car you purchased, just because it wasn’t bought brand new. Depending on the exact problem, where and when you purchased it, and whether you knew that there was a problem with the car at the time of buying it, you, as a buyer, are protected by Irish law. 

Here are some situations, with regard to buying used cars, that you need to be aware of:

You bought a used car with problems from a dealer

If the dealer informed you about the car’s problems before you purchased it, you will likely not have much comeback. Also, if the problem was caused due to normal wear and tear, you may not be able to exercise your consumer rights. 

You bought a faulty car from a dealer (without knowing it was faulty)

In this case, your rights when buying a used car from a dealer are protected by law. If you bought a used car without knowing it was faulty, you will need to make a complaint to the dealership that sold you the car. You can ask the dealership to repair the car, provide you a replacement car, or give you a refund.

You bought a bad car from a private owner

Consumer laws in Ireland only apply to deals that happen between a person and a trader. It does not apply to situations in which you buy something from a person who is not a trader. Still, you should get in touch with the seller and try to arrive at a solution. 

Problems with a used car bought at an auction

When you buy a used car at an auction, you will need to do the necessary car checks before bidding for it. The auction firm will typically not shoulder the responsibility of repairing the car or providing you a replacement. 

What are your rights when buying a used car?

Confused about what your rights are when buying a used car? 

Listed below are your rights when buying used cars:

Buying a used car from a dealership

You can exercise your consumer rights when buying a car from a dealer if the vehicle develops any problems after the purchase. For example, if  the dealer has claimed something about the vehicle which wasn't true, you could be eligible for a refund.

When purchasing a car from a dealership, the car must be of satisfactory quality when taking into consideration its age and mileage etc. and meets any description given to you and be fit for purpose.

Buying a used car from a private seller

Buying a used car from a private seller may seem easy but it is pretty risky. If you find any faults with the car once you purchase it, you don’t have a lot of legal protection to fall back on. Of course, the car should match the description given by the seller, be in a roadworthy condition and the seller must have the right to sell you the vehicle. But, it is your responsibility to make sure that the car is of satisfactory quality before you buy it. 

Buying a used car from an auction

Car auctions can be really exciting and you may even be able to land yourself an incredible deal. But, it’s not the best way to purchase a used car especially if you are an inexperienced buyer. 

Typically, once you put in your bid, you won’t be able to undo it. And if the car is sold to you in a ‘sold as seen’ condition, you will not be covered under the Consumer Rights Act. If you are considering buying a used car through an online auction, make sure to check the terms and conditions of the auction house well in advance. 

Buying a used car online

If you buy a used car online, your rights will vary based on whether the seller was a car dealer or an individual. 

If you bought the car from a private seller online, the vehicle technically only needs to match the description provided by the seller - so your legal rights, in this case, are limited. 

If you bought the car from an online dealer, you will be protected under the Sale of Goods Act if the vehicle is not fit for purpose, as described or of satisfactory quality. You will also be protected by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations, 2013, so you have the right to cancel your purchase within 14 days. 

Buying a used car on a credit card

If you are considering buying a used car, it’s a good idea to use your credit card to finance the purchase. This is because, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, 1974, the credit card company may be jointly responsible for providing you compensation for the faulty car. 

Buying a used car on a debit card

If you buy the used car with a debit card, however, you are not protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. That said, you may have the option of claiming a refund from the debit card company through a scheme called ‘chargeback’ - most large debit card providers including Visa, Maestro, American Express, and MasterCard offer this scheme. 


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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