Cheaper – just – and available now rather than in 12 months’ time: it’s no wonder that more people are buying used cars rather than new ones.
However, concerns are growing over just how carefully used cars are inspected and presented by dealers.
The Motor Ombudsman, a dispute-resolution body that mediates between motor-trade businesses and their customers, has said that in 2021, 9% of the used cars that it ruled on breached its sales code regarding vehicle presentation. This compares with 6% the year before.
Breaches that it noted included accredited businesses failing to record or rectify a vehicle’s faults discovered during its pre-sales inspection.
Its report follows an item broadcast in April by Watchdog, the BBC consumer affairs show, concerning three people who had bought used cars from Cazoo, a major online retailer. These had suffered a variety of faults, including a broken gearbox mounting, a serious handling issue and water leaks. The problems had occurred even though Cazoo claims to check up to 300 items on every car before offering it for sale.
Although the customers who featured in the Watchdog item were happy with how Cazoo resolved their complaints, they were concerned that the company was unable to show them their vehicles’ prepurchase inspection reports, leading the programme to question the value of Cazoo’s inspections.
Autocar asked Cazoo why it doesn’t make its pre-purchase inspection reports available to its customers. A spokesman replied: “While these results are recorded, they aren’t currently collated into a consumer-facing document, as they’re being produced using several different reporting systems. Cazoo is considering what further steps it may take to provide assurances that the 300-point inspection has been completed.”
Ian Ferguson, a consumer advocate and managing director of independent consumer redress service Reject My Car, claims the experience of Cazoo’s customers is typical of many people buying used cars that have, their sellers claim, been the subject of exhaustive, multi-point checks.