Faulty cars

The Problems with Motor Vehicles section is sectioned into information relating to vehicles purchased before 15 December 2003 and vehicles purchased on or after this date.
This is because the laws relating to motor vehicle sales changed from this date when the Motor Vehicle Sales Act took effect.

If you bought your vehicle before 15 December 2003, visit the faulty vehicles page for information on the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act. This page also contains links to other pages of interest including the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act - Faulty Goods.

If you bought your vehicle after 15 December 2003
This is a guide to your rights if you were misled about the vehicle, the vehicle is faulty, a previous owner still owes money on the vehicle, you have concerns about the odometer reading, or you have attempted to resolve the problem with the trader but now need to take the matter further

This section sets out your rights if the seller or vehicle manufacturer has provided you with misleading or false information about the vehicle

Fair Trading Act and vehicles
The Fair Trading Act is breached if any person in trade provides you with misleading or false information about the vehicle. For example, the information could be in the form of an advertisement, notice or sign with the vehicle or a statement made by the trader.

A person in trade includes motor vehicle traders (registered or unregistered), importers, wholesalers, vehicle auctioneers and car market operators, or anyone selling a motor vehicle in the course of a business.

All information about the vehicle must be correct and must not be misleading, including the information on the Supplier Information Notice.
If a trader has made a false or misleading representation, and you have suffered loss as a result of that representation, you may be able to claim compensation from the trader.

What amount of compensation am I entitled to?
The amount will depend on the nature of the misrepresentation and how much it may have affected the vehicle's value.

Example: The Supplier Information Notice on the car Merita bought stated that the car was manufactured in 1998, but she later finds out that it is actually a 1994 model. Merita can prove that she paid more than the reasonable price for a 1994 model.

Merita's compensation may be based on the difference between what she paid for the vehicle and what the vehicle was actually worth when she bought it.

Claiming compensation
If you are unable to resolve the matter with the trader you could take a claim to the specialist Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal or to the general Disputes Tribunal.
The Fair Trading Act gives Tribunals a wide range of remedies to apply, where they are satisfied that a trader has breached the Act and that you have suffered or are likely to suffer a loss.

A Tribunal can order:

  • that your contract with the trader be varied, or changed in a way that compensates you for your loss
  • that your money be refunded, or your trade-in returned
  • that the trader pays you an amount of money to compensate you for the loss you have suffered as a result of being misled
  • that the trader repairs the vehicle or provides parts for it.