Used car dealer photo via PA/Blackball MediaUsed car dealer photo via PA/Blackball Media


Used car sales were Northern Ireland’s most complained about trade sector in 2023

  • Trading Standards in Northern Ireland reveal record complaints about used car sales
  • Body received over 1,600 complaints in relation to buying a used car in 2023
  • Majority of complaints were about faulty vehicles

Time 10:46 am, May 30, 2024

Used car sales are Northern Ireland’s most complained about trade sector, according to a new report from country’s devolved administration.

A study from the Department for the Economy found that over 1,600 complaints were sent to the body’s trading standards wing in relation to purchasing a used car last year.

The department’s Consumerline service found that the vast majority of complaints (72%) were about faults with vehicles.

Other areas of complaint related to misleading ads, accident damaged cars, mileage discrepancies and the failure of dealers to honour legal obligations.

The data also showed a rise in complaints about car dealers  posing as private sellers, thus restricting the rights of consumers.

Earlier this year, Chris Hill, senior investigations officer for National Trading Standards, gave an exclusive interview to Car Dealer in which he warned retailers against posing as private sellers.

He told us that that he had conducted a probe of more than 2,500 car adverts on Facebook in Wales and found that they had been posted by just 432 users.

Hill said one of those users had advertised some 90 cars during the six-month period they looked at and was ‘clearly a motor trader’. More than 100 of the users advertised more than 10 cars on the social media site.

Dealers must, by law, clearly label adverts as ‘trade’ so consumers know they have consumer rights – such as returning faulty cars or getting problems fixed.

The findings in Northern Ireland, match UK-wide trends, which also list used car sales as the most complained about trade sector.

Reacting to the results, Damien Doherty, chief Inspector of Northern Ireland’s Trading Standards Service, said: ‘Unexpected car problems can cost us more than just money.

‘They can leave people missing work or unable to drop their kids off at school. But all too often we hear from motorists who’ve had used cars mis-sold to them and have had to shell out hard-earned cash to fix surprise issues.

‘Many consumers are feeling the pinch right now, so it’s vital to make sure you’re steering clear of surprise problems and are getting exactly what you paid for when buying a used car.

‘Before making a big purchase like a used car, don’t forget to brake, and make all the right checks before you buy.’

In a bid to crackdown on dodgy dealers, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute called for a licensing system to be introduced for the motor trade.

In a poll of Car Dealer readers, 58% of respondents said they would support the measures being brought in.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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