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Private sale car ... not as described

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Hi all - this is a very interesting set of forums so, firstly, thanks to all the contributors! ;)


Here's my problem.


About a month ago, I purchased a Rover 75 Tourer estate with 93K on the clock which I saw on eBay (completed Item number: 140198143909). I did not buy it on eBay, but came to an arrangement with the seller after it didn't sell there.


First off, the eBay seller with whom I had contact wasn't the actual owner of the car although it was him I had contact with. Instead, the car was in his partner's name, and it was to the latter gentleman that I handed over the cash. I believe that the eBay seller was selling the car on behalf of his partner, so don't think that will be a problem here.


The problem:


For a start, the item description states "full service history". I checked with the seller that this included the 90000 mile service - which it did, with the service book stamped by Arnold Clark in Dundee at approx 88K miles.


Here is the crux of the matter - the 90K service should include a timing belt change. Being as this car has a V6 engine, there are actually 3 timing belts to change and it is a very expensive job (about £600 from a main dealer). If it hadn't been done, I wouldn't have bought the car - simple.


I confirmed that the timing belt had been done with the seller via email before agreeing to buy the car (I have a copy of the email).


But ... just to check, I called Arnold Clark and asked them, as there was not a specific note in the service book. They told me that, because the seller had taken out a specific Service Plan, the timing belt had not been covered and had not been done.


I then emailed the seller again and he said he would check it out. He replied again, saying that it seemed the job hadn't been done and that he would "put it right". This was about 3 weeks ago.


I have both the seller and his partner's mobile numbers, plus the seller's work number. I cannot contact the partner (who is supposed to be dealing with this) as his mobile is never on. By phoning the seller's work, I have got him to agree to get the work done at a local garage which has the appropriate tools. However, he says his partner will arrange it all as he is the "car expert" of the pair.


Each time I call him, he claims he will get his partner to call me and arrange things, but this has not yet happened in over two weeks.


In brief:


As far as I can see, the car was not as described by the seller in that it is overdue for a major service item (the timing belts) and I was assured that this work had been done.


The seller is procrastinating, saying he will get it sorted out, but has failed to make any progress. Both gentlemen seem like nice, genuine guys but I'm getting to the stage where I'm wondering exactly what my rights are here, and how I should proceed.


I've considered sending a letter to the "car expert" partner (whose name was on the V5 as keeper) just to keep this thing alive and to say that I want the work carried out as agreed, since I can't get him on the phone and his partner doesn't seem able or willing to move things along.


I've considered getting a quote from a main dealer and saying I would be going ahead with the work and would send them the bill. This may kick them into action to get it done more cheaply elsewhere.


I've considered a brick through the window, but thought better of that plan. :lol:


The thing is, we intend to drive the car to Hungary in a couple of months and the last thing I want is a snapped timing belt on top of a mountain in Europe ...


Can anyone advise on the best way to proceed from this point?



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Further to the above, I've just spoken to the seller, and he says Arnold Clark told him the timing belt *had* been done - it's only since then that they've apparently changed their mind and say it hasn't (they have no record of the work being carried out on their system).


The seller reckons that this means he sold the car to me in good faith, as he believed the belts had been changed. He has said to me before that they had an almighty argument at the time with Arnold Clark, as a result of which they were told the work had been done.


I wonder whether it is actually the case that he's not in the wrong?



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This is what TS says about private motor sales:


Trading Standards Central - Trading Standards and Consumer Protection information for the UK


Private sales


There are some situations where your legal rights will be reduced.

The general rule is ‘let the buyer beware’ when you buy from a private individual. It is up to you to find out whether the car is of satisfactory quality, to make your own checks on what you are told and to take responsibility for your choice, as the seller is not liable for the satisfactory quality of the vehicle. You are still entitled, however, to expect the car to be ‘as described’. If the advertisement says ‘2000 Ford Focus’ or ‘excellent condition’ then it should be exactly that. It is important to remember that it may be much more difficult for you to enforce your rights against a private individual.

Whether you buy privately or from a motor trader, you are entitled to expect that the car is roadworthy when you buy it, unless you and the seller clearly agree it is to be sold as scrap. You should take note that a car sold with an MOT Certificate does not necessarily mean that it is roadworthy.


"good faith" doesn't really come into it, and doesn't offer him any clause out of his obligations. He told you something had been done, you queried it over again and one way or another, the seller said that it either had been done or would get done, so he has a legal obligation.

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I now have the partner's home phone number (apparently his mobile is conveniently "on the blink" which is why he hasn't returned my calls), so I'll be calling him this evening to see what his plan is ...


It makes you wonder why people can't just be honest in the first place, and then just put things right when they're discovered. Would save a lot of hassle all round.

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Further to this thread:



Despite the seller agreeing to get the timing belts changed on my Rover 75, I have not heard back from him a week later.


I have myself obtained quotes for the necessary work, and forwarded the best one (~ £770) to the seller along with a note that if he does not send me a cheque for the quoted amount in full within 7 days I intend to take legal action.


Here's my question at this point: Can I go and get the work done to the car in the meantime, and still take him to the Small Claims court to recoup the costs?


I would like to keep the car, and just get it up to the standard it was described as by the seller.


Thanks for any pointers ...

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I'd advise you to follow through on your timetable, send a Letter Before action.

Struggling_Simon vs Cabot - WON

Struggling_Simon vs Abbey - WON

Struggling_Simon vs HBOS - Pending




Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit

Somper in excretia,som solem profundus variat.




Opinions given herein are made informally by myself as a lay-person in good faith based on personal experience. For legal advice you must always consult a registered and insured lawyer.

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Not sure I understand what you mean there ...


I foresee that this chap isn't going to cough up, and meantime I'm running a car that is 6000 miles past the recommended timing belt interval.


If he doesn't send me the money this week, am I entitled to get repairs done and claim the cost from him, rather than trying to get him to make the car right?


By the time I instigate proceedings, he will had ample time to come up with an alternative - it took me one morning to get 6 quotes for the work.


Trading Standards (I eventually got them on the phone) seem to think It's reasonable of me to go ahead after next week, especially if I get a letterheaded statement from the garage in question to say that the work needed to be done urgently.

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