Is sold as seen allowed?

Your next steps after buying a used car with faults


Including trading standards notes, your consumer rights and the sale of goods act

If you have bought from a dealer or private car seller

Sold as seen‘ or ‘trade sale’ are not legally binding terms even when included on a sales invoice. If buying from a dealer, it is advisable to ignore this type of statement where the trader is attempting to remove their liability should something be wrong with the car.

When a car has
mechanical issues

Ensure its history is in order

A CarVeto certificate shows you if the car has an unusual or worrying history. If we find hidden markers, your rights increase for a refund or repair

Consumer Rights Act 2015 Mentioning Used Cars


The three criteria of a refund (your legal rights as a consumer)
Did you know that when you buy a second hand car from a trader, it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described in its advertisement, no matter if the car was £1,000 or £20,000, the same rules will apply?

But, your rights depend on the period you have owned the car…

First 30-days after purchase:
You have the right to reject the car if it does not meet the three criteria of a full refund.

After 30-days of purchase:
You cannot ask for a full refund. Instead, you can expect a repair or replacement that do not meet the three criteria of a refund.


If you experience a problem or condition issue with a car recently purchased

The CarVeto reg check database is for private motorists buying or selling a car. It searches all UK cars history for previous accidents, theft, a mileage discrepancy, number plate or body colour changes, VIC inspections and more.

There are over 50 independent searches run through our database.

If you have recently bought a car with problems, it is best to check its history first.


  • If we uncover a bad history that the car seller (predominantly a dealer) did not include as part of the vehicle description, there is more leverage for refund or repair. It includes write-off and theft. You need a registration number to get an instant online report.
Letter describing the meaning of sold as seen within Trading Standards car sales

Bought a faulty car?

Frist step, check its history

Enter a car reg, for example, WP62LFD

Provides an instant vehicle report

Motorist has broken down in a car she recently purchased sold as seen

You have strict consumer rights when buying from a car dealership


Rights as a private buyer are at their most robust in the first 30-days after purchase. Visit for detailed information. If you have bought a car from a dealer with mechanical problems within this timeframe, it should be:


  • repaired to a safe, legal standard,
  • reflect the price paid,
  • if not, a full refund applies


It includes cheaper cars, too (bangers) under £1,000.
The vehicle must be fit for purpose and of satisfactory condition based on mileage and price.

One exception is a non-runner that may be sold for ‘parts, spares or repairs’. In this instance, it must be clearly stated on the sales receipt provided by the dealership.

Should you find yourself outside of the 30-day window all is not lost. Dealers must ensure the vehicles sold are in good condition, fit for purpose and reflect price and mileage.

Dealership lingo


A dealer may agree to a price discount in exchange for removing sale of goods act liability. But, law stands even if you have given consent to this type of agreement.


Mechanical problems, what to do next and rejecting a car

How to approach sellers:

  1. Contact the seller and explain that your new car has problems
  2. Describe what the issues are and demand repairs
  3. Send an email or hard copy letter that describes the issues and what you expect within a reasonable timeframe


If the dealer is proving to be unhelpful, keeping a paper trail might be useful in the weeks to come.


You may want to inform the seller you are aware of your legal rights along with their responsibility.

Remember, regardless of car age and price, sold as seen and trade sale do not legally apply to private buyers.


When you purchase a car from a company, you both enter a legal, binding contract that excludes comments on reduced liabilities. Your buyer rights include satisfactory quality, as described, and fit for purpose. Within these parameters, you are entitled to repair. If the vehicle is not corrected, you are entitled to a refund.

Trading Standards car repairs

Sold as seen versus wear and tear


By example, if you have bought a car with 100,000 miles on the clock for a price of £1,000, it is expected to have significant wear and tear signs. As the car buyer, you must include reasonableness and readily admit to yourself if the mechanic problem relates to wear/tear in the working parts of the engine, chassis or electric components. It is stated clearly as ‘of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose’.

Contrast it with a Volkswagen Passat with 40,000 miles on the clock and a price paid of £10,000. The car must be in excellent working order without any major mechanical faults.


Section 17 of the Consumer Rights Act insurance when buying a used car

Did you use a credit card to pay for the vehicle?


If you bought any portion of the car with a credit card, you have even more rights as part of the contract. It also counts if you’ve accidentally bought a stolen car or recently learned it’s a Cat S or Cat N write off.

Just a small holding deposit arms you with a new set of buyer’s rights. It is all down to Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

Cars must be between £100 and £30,000 for Section 75 to qualify. But provided you have; the credit card company have liability. offer guidance to make a claim.

Read our complete guide to buying a car on credit card.

Your rights when buying a used car from a dealer

Citizens Advice support and Trading Standards


Citizens Advice is the preferred resource around issues of sold as seen. They are accommodating if you have bought from a dealer who is refusing to make repairs.

Here is a quote from Trading Standards:

“Traders must not mislead consumers by using phrases such as Sold as Seen or No Refunds.”

Buying a car from a dealership and right to cancel from distance selling

Consumer protection and distance selling


What is distance selling?

When a consumer buys a product without being on the retailer’s premises, during Covid-19, distance selling has increased exponentially.

Distance selling vehicle complaints are included with distance selling codes of practice.

The Motor Ombudsman quote: “Yes, distance sales are covered under provision 2.12 in the Vehicle Sales Code. It states the following:

“Where a vehicle sale is concluded at a distance, the accredited business will make clear your right to cancel within 14 days.”

It has a useful FAQ section. See for rights to cancel on goods purchased.

When you have bought a faulty car privately

Rights when buying a used car from a private sell


A private seller does not have the same legal obligations as a car dealer, so refund or repair is a grey area. Here, sold as seen does not have the same application compared to a dealer sale.

DAS Law explains (quote): “Selling an unroadworthy car is a criminal offence unless the buyer is fully aware of this fact.”

They also say that the private seller must be sincere when describing the car’s condition.

Our advice is to contact the person whom you bought the car from and ask for compensation. You might be surprised at how helpful some motorists can be.

But you can no longer obtain previous contact information from the v5c logbook. If the previous owner has moved, you will need a DVLA owner check V888 application.

If there are significant mechanical faults beyond the scope of a few hundred pounds of repair bills, your next option is to seek legal advice. Again, Citizens Advice are the best at this type of detail.

If you are considering becoming a private seller, look at our new guide for the best way to sell a car privately.

Conclusion on a sold as seen car


Before you buy a car, our best advice is to take a thorough test drive, get a car data check with CarVeto and think about hiring a mechanic to check it out. Check this Clickmechanic AA vehicle inspection guide for more details.

When buying a second-hand car from a car dealership, there is a range of Consumer Rights to help you as a customer to get repairs or a refund.

Remember, a trader cannot use statements like sold as seen, trade sale, and no warranty. These are fabricated to omit dealer responsibility should something mechanical or otherwise go wrong with the car.

A private sale is trickier to deal with or get compensation. Your best move is to get in touch with the latest DVLA registered keeper and ask for help.

Remember to grab an up to date CarVeto report. If we uncover theft or write-off, you will have more leverage to get a full refund. It includes a private car sale.

The article is composed by Marcus Rockey who is one of the automotive professionals at CarVeto.

For help and support surrounding sold as seen by trade, please get in touch with him at using reference ‘soldasseen’