Complaints about second-hand cars still rifeMisleading info and clocking are major problems

09 May 2009

Car clocking

Clocking is estimated to cost the UK economy £100 million per year

More than 68,000 consumers complained to Consumer Direct last year about issues with second-hand car sales. Concerns around , services and potentially misleading selling are consistently among the top complaints to the government-funded advice service.

The second-hand car market is huge, with sales of approximately £35 billion in 2008, and the level of fraud is substantial; the financial cost of car clocking alone is estimated to be £100 million per year.

To tackle the problem, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a market study to assess whether existing consumer protection legislation is sufficient in this sector.  

Study to focus on dealers

The study will focus on sales by dealers rather than private sales between individuals, but the findings could have implications for the wider second-hand car market.

The OFT hopes to work closely with the second-hand car industry, local Trading Standards services, consumer bodies and other interested parties.

John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive, said: ‘Buying a second-hand car is a major and potentially difficult purchase, given the fact that many consumers lack the necessary experience or knowledge to make an informed buying decision. We aim, particularly given the current financial climate, to look at the entire process for consumers when buying a second-hand car and whether existing regulation delivers sufficient robustness, confidence and clarity for both the customer and car dealer.’

The OFT expects to complete the work by the end of the year. Interested parties can submit written views by 5 June to

Find out more about your rights if your second hand car has a problem with our guide.


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