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Being sued for private car sale *** Claim Dismissed ***

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My daughter sold her car privately at the weekend.

There was a small oil leak which became apparent after she advertised it for sale and she reduced the asking price to take account of this, having had a quote.

She made the purchasers aware of this.


They checked it over, test drove it and were happy to go ahead with the sale and paid by bank transfer.

They took all the documentation, including the V5 which she should have retained, saying that they would transfer ownership and save her the trouble - highly dubious I know as it is her responsibility to inform DVLA but without an address it seems impossible.


They then contacted her saying that there was a smell of burning oil and fumes as they drove home and there were other leaks as well (they didn't specify) which they said she knew about (she didn't). There was not and never had been a smell of burning oil while she was driving it.


They now are asking for return of their money.

She does not have their address and so is unable to transfer ownership with DVLA online which puts her in a very vulnerable position.


She sold the car to them in good faith with no attempt to mislead.

They are refusing to give their address.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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its a person to person private sale..as much as I hate the saying, tough luck, buyer beware.

I don't think you having already advised them of the issue and subsequent reduction on price

should they wish to issue a court claim, they wouldn't stand a chance.

has she written evidence/screenshot etc  of the original advertised price ?


cant see the v5c being any issue at all.

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately she has the name but not the address of the purchaser so it's impossible to complete the online transfer process so she remains legally responsible for the car. 


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I'm afraid my response is going to be a bit more doom and gloom than my site team colleague.

I'm afraid the principle of "buyer beware" is a pretty old principle and it doesn't always protect the private seller. However, I think you will have to wait and see what they come back to you about in writing. My understanding so far – as you don't even seem to know their address or who they really are in – is that everything has been done on the telephone.

If they decide to come back at you in writing with a list of defects then I am afraid we will have to look at it carefully because although you won't be particularly affected by consumer protection legislation, there are still basic rules of contract which could protect the purchaser.

I'm sorry also to give a bit of a slapped wrist here, because the selling of vehicle in the circumstances without even ascertaining the identity of the purchaser and without keeping the necessary documents to inform the DVLA of the new ownership is highly irresponsible. I suppose this is going to put the frighteners on you – but you had better be aware of the possibilities.

The first thing that occurs to me is that this vehicle may have been bought by a trader who was anxious not to add any more owners to the vehicle because that would reduce the value even more. Therefore you might have some fairly unscrupulous trader selling your vehicle on to another private purchaser who themselves may not properly register the vehicle so that if it attracts any parking fines or any other attention from agencies, could come back to you as you are the registered owner. You would be able to deal with this problem eventually but it would certainly be complicated.

Also an extreme scenario is that the vehicle could eventually be used for unlawful purposes – and once again the registration leads back to you.

I think that your daughter had better read the thread and had better take the lesson.

As I have said, the use of the vehicle for some unlawful purpose is probably an extreme idea and is unlikely to happen. However, the idea that the vehicle has been bought by trader who wants to conceal the fact that it has had an additional purchaser – him/herself – is a highly possible scenario.

You haven't told us anything about the vehicle – what is it, model, make, mileage, condition, price, – and also how was advertised, where was advertise, and what claims did you make for it.

I do hope you don't hear anything more about this problem but you better give us all the information and if there is any fallout as a result of what your daughter is done then of course come back here and we will be very pleased to try and help you. In the meantime I would suggest that you contact DVLA and tell them that you have now parted company with the vehicle and that it is no longer yours. Even though you won't be able to give them the address of the new owner, you will be able to give them the name and you had better put it on record. I'm not sure if it's an offence not to have the details of the new owner and to pass them on to DVLA – but I would suggest anyway, that you tell DVLA.

Before you start doing this though, standby for maybe one or two other people to contribute to this thread and to disagree with me. I think you need to have a range of opinions on this.


One further thing – you may be tempted simply to take the vehicle back – but unfortunately you won't be able to be certain that it is in exactly the same condition as it was when you sold it. This could give you another problem that may be if you decide to cut your losses and tell the purchaser to return the vehicle, you may not be completely happy when you receive it – and they will simply be a dispute as to what has happened to it during its absence

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Thank you. What you have suggested about a motor trader had occurred and yes she has been naive about this. They were sufficiently satisfied to purchase the car and they did know about the problem. She had been driving it up until the morning of the sale with no problems and she had told them about the oil leak - it's otherwise in very good condition, has a long MOT and has been serviced regularly. There's also the issue of insurance should she accept return (she transferred insurance to her new car )

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I've asked you a number of questions in my post and you haven't addressed them.

Please would you do this. It's a bit difficult having to chase people for answers all the time


Just to add to my original doom and gloom scenario, even if the vehicle is returned to you and you accept it – if it happens to you have received any parking fines or anything else during the period which it has been out of your possession, then you could also be challenged for that.

If the purchaser does contact you again and you eventually decide to accept the return of the vehicle, I certainly wouldn't do it without having first ascertained the name and address of the purchaser – and verified this by some evidence – and also get a signed statement that they were indeed in possession of the vehicle from XXX date until XXX date.

All very complicated and distasteful – but I'm afraid that this is the consequence of what your daughter has done

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We have spoken to DVLA and been told to write a letter with the details. Even though there is no address available it will be on record that she is no longer the keeper and that will be backdated to the time of sale.


I'm sorry I haven't addressed your questions. It's a Mini 07 registration 70,000 miles, service history, well maintained, bodywork perfect, 2 former owners MOT  December and recently serviced. Price £1900. As far as we are aware there were no other issues apart from the small oil leak - they are claiming there is oil all over their drive but there has never been any oil on our drive. (My daughter did suggest that they might not have screwed the oil cap on properly). In fact a local garage looked at it the day before the sale and their description of the leak was 'slightly damp'. It was advertised on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. The advertised price was £2250. There was no smell of burning oil when they test drove, nor had there been any such smell or fumes.

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Thank you. Keep screenshots of the advertisements that you placed – not just copying the text – after that I'm not sure that there is too much you can do. Just wait.

I see that you have had a local garage look at the car and their description of the leak was "slightly damp". Can you get this from the garage in writing? I suggest that you do so immediately before the recollection becomes fuzzy in the mind of the person who looked at the car. Be prepared for the garage to be reluctant to give you this information in writing because they may think that they are incurring some liability. They won't be – but that's what they may think. Stay polite with them and if they refuse to give it to you in writing then let it go – rather than making enemies. Try to get the identity of the person who made that comment and even – if you can – without giving offence – get a picture of them.

Then all you can do is inform DVLA in writing – as you have been advised – and also wait and see if there are any further contacts.

If there are contacts then I suggest that you inform them that you must have therefore verified name and address before you can deal with any of their concerns. Don't commit yourself to anything else. Once you get their name and address then maybe you can start to deal with things.
Come back here

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  • 3 weeks later...

DVLA were informed and she received confirmation that they have updated their records and she is no longer the registered keeper. However they are not going away.  They have emailed her to say they have sent a signed for letter with images. She wasn't in but the postman left a card.


She does have a screenshot of the advertisement.

It was originally advertised at £2500 but she thought this might be a little high so reduced it to £2250 - the advertisement reflects this. (She was unaware of the oil leak at this point - it was brought to her attention by a prospective buyer).


She was faced with the choice of getting it repaired or selling with the price reduced to reflect the cost of repair and was told the cost would be £200 and chose to reduce the price to £2000. She made the buyers aware of this and they examined it, test drove it and offered £1900 which she accepted. They went home, transferred the money and presumably taxed and insured it before driving away. It all happened very quickly and she did suggest they could go away and think about it but they were very keen. 


They are accusing her of dishonesty which she finds very upsetting as she was perfectly upfront about the problem. 

She had been driving the car every day and had driven to work that morning with no apparent problems 


There was never any oil under the car which surely would have been noticed and no smell of oil or fumes.

How the oil leak suddenly became so catastrophic when they drove it away is a mystery.


They have had a garage look at it and had a quote of £250 but she had reduced the price by £350 which was surely reasonable.

The car has been spotted out and about so they are obviously using it.


It's really difficult to understand what is going on and what their motives are.

(They did say they had been to the bank to see if they could get their money back, which is a very strange thing to do.)

Perhaps they just changed their mind after being in such a hurry.


It's very stressful and worrying. 

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Do I understand from a previous post that in fact it was purchased by a trader? How do you know this?

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We don't know this - just suspected as they took the V5 to save her the trouble. I think the same thought had occurred to you. We know the name as it was on bank transfer together with reg no of car as reference. Despite being asked for their address, they did not give it. (The car has been seen on the road in a very clean and shiny condition.) We just wonder if they are trying bullying tactics to get her to refund some of the money to sell on at a better profit. All conjecture but nothing seems to add up. They were quite happy to buy at the price with the disclosed fault. There were no other problems that she was aware of.

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I will have to give a fuller reply later – but at the moment I would say stand your ground. Even if you haven't got evidence of what was said during the transaction I would make a statement about it right now – as verbatim as possible – timed and dated – and keep a very close record of anything that happens in the future.

I'll come back later and see if I have anything else to add

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Well if you have seen it being driven around clean and shiny then the chances are that it's not in the hands of a trader. In a way that's a shame because if it had been examined and bought by a trader that would probably give you a better case. However, when was the last time they contacted you? I have a sense that this is something which is simply going to go away.

I don't know if there is some way of checking online with DVLA to see if you are still the registered owner.

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Following letter to DVLA, they have confirmed that they have updated their records and she is no longer registered keeper.


They have just sent a letter recorded delivery to be signed for. There was no one in to sign for it and the buyers have emailed copy of track and trace and it is at the sorting office awaiting collection - the postman also left a card to this effect. My daughter has neither the time nor the inclination to collect it - she suffers from panic attacks, although I feel, rightly or wrongly that it needs to be dealt with.


As well as advising them verbally about the oil leak, it was an advisory on MOT (28 Nov) as oil leak but not excessive. It was serviced in December with nothing untoward reported. I really don't see how they can  have an issue. They examined it, drove it and were happy with the price. She checked with the garage only the day before sale, where it was described as 'slightly damp'  and was given a cost of £200. They had it checked after buying and were quoted £250. How they can complain that she misled them is beyond me but they seem determined. Might they take legal action? 



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I'm afraid that I think you need to collect the letter. It may be a letter of claim – which could herald a possible action. If you want advice here then you will have to keep yourself informed and let us know what is happening.

I'm afraid that you can't run away from this and bury your head in the sand.

If you don't confront this then I'm afraid that panic attacks will become more real and may be more justified.

Get all the information and then we can help you and make sure that you stay in control. If you avoid collecting mail then you hand control over to the other side.


If you have seen it being driven around then I think you should make a note of whenever you do see it or use it parked – and take pictures if you can.

This will be very useful evidence that in fact it is of satisfactory quality and that they're happy to be using it – and also that they have had some use out of it so that if you have to consider compensating them in some way – which I doubt – you will be dealt to take into consideration the use they have had of it.

Do you know what the mileage was when you sold it?

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IF they fancy thier chances in court they will have to do things properly and that menas supplying an address for the service of documents.

So far they are relaying on bullying her into paying them some money as they ahve realised your daughter is naive and may well fall for this tactic.

IF they start a court action she can eventually invite them to return the vehicle in the same conditon it was sold in and that would include mileage. Any more than  basic back to base mileage will show that they have "accepted" the car regardless of their noise.

dont be in a hurry to use this now though, this is for responding to a proper claim

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I agree that they seem to be applying bullying tactics – but I disagree completely that you should consider accepting the return of the vehicle.

Make sure you consult with us before this even becomes a matter which you contemplate

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Thank you for your replies.


She will pick up the letter but maybe not for a day or two due to work commitments. I will let you know the contents. 


At the moment she has no intention of accepting return of the car, nor of reducing the price further as it already reflects the cost of repair. The purchasers were aware that the price had been reduced to take account of this.


I understand that the conditions for selling a car privately are:

The seller should own the car

It should be in a safe and roadworthy condition

It should not be the subject of a finance agreement,


All of these conditions were fulfilled, together with disclosure of known problem.

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I'm afraid that it would be rash to summarise the situation and the way you have at the moment.

If they are really proposing legal action – and you have no idea because you haven't read their letter – then I think you should make an urgent arrangement to collect it from the post office and that you should start reprioritising your time/your daughters time in order to obtain it.

I'm afraid that your daughter has been rather over-casual in respect of the sale of the vehicle and it's about time that she started to get serious.

If she's worried about time constraints – then you can be certain that if they do decide to issue a legal action against her, although it won't be over-complicated – there will certainly be time limits with which she will have to comply and also a degree of stress which you won't enjoy and at that point maybe she will start to realise what a "stitch in time" really means.


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The letter was delivered today. I have tried to scan but my scanner isn't working very well. I have copied the points she makes 




I am writing this letter regarding the issue I have with the car after purchase, also after contacting you on Facebook on the same day of purchase and updating you with the information that I will do regarding the case. I received an answer from the garage and its estimated costs, after this you have left the conversation with no response. The car is faulty and it had not been advised on the day of purchase, provided false information.


1. The Mini Cooper was bought on 18/01/2020, after taking it home fumes were visibly coming from under the bonnet and smelt like burnt oil. Contacted you on18/01/2020 at 18.43 on Facebook.


2. Took the car to the garage on Monday 20/01/2020, after quick look they ensured (sic) me the oil leaks, asked me to drop the car for further checks. Messaged you the same day at 20.39. Response was below, according to the response you admitted you reduced the price due to the cost of future repairs and also that you were aware of the fault when you sold it, unfortunately it was not mentioned on the day of purchase, therefore I have bought faulty goods from you.


3. The car was in the garage again on Wednesday 22/01/2020. They had a better look at it and cleaned the questioned area from  the bottom. They gave an estimation from £150 to £550 as they have to take the catalyser to be able to see the issue. Also the oil is burning at a higher temperature than it should see below pics of burnt cap and the fumes of burning. Also the oil level was checked and it was under the minimum so it was dangerous to drive and could have ruined the engine completely. (Strange that the oil light wasn't on)


4. The car was taken to the garage on 25th January and was picked up on 30th January. Due to oil leak from the oil filter housing seal the water was going into the engine alongside the oil and this was causing the burnt oil smell and this was the reason behind the unusual oil burn. I was lucky as this could have been the head gasket which would have cost a lot more. The repair cost £197.07 and I wish to have that covered under your expenses as the car was sold without mentioning the leak, therefore this is a breach of contract.


Conclusion: I am kindly asking you to get an agreement on this issue, otherwise I am thinking to take this further.






So the whole issue has arisen over the question of the oil leak.
It was on the MOT, which she saw,  as an advisory and she was told about this on the day, together with the fact that it had been checked and the repair would be about £200.  

The car was advertised at £2250 (after research into prices for minis of a similar age and condition) and the buyer  was informed that this was subsequently reduced to £2000 to take into account the cost of the repair. T
hey offered £1900 which was accepted.

To say that it was not mentioned on the day, only afterwards is nonsense. There was therefore in total an allowance of £350 in total, made to cover the cost of repairing the fault, which actually cost £197.07.

They were definitely aware of the oil leak when they agreed to buy. It's difficult to understand where she is coming from.

She also talks, in the Facebook conversation about an unspecified leak   '..also the garage said it is fluid leaks not the oil so it's a separate thing.

Also this leak wasn't mentioned to me not even when I asked if you smelt burnt oil it is all covered in oil.'  We have no idea what she means. Also if it was covered with oil, why buy. The car had been driven on a daily basis, including that morning with no smell of burning oil.


They examined the car, including the engine and test drove it and were happy with the car and the price.

They were very eager to buy and in fact the whole transaction, including test driving and examination took about an hour and a half.

My daughter did suggest that they might like to think about it but they declined.

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I'm reading through what you've written – but you have posted a very large unbroken block of text and this is unhelpful. I'm going to space it out for you but please will you present things so that they are well spaced and punctuated and it makes it easier for everybody. Thank you

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I'm assuming that you now have their address.

I suggest:



Dear XXX

Thank you for your letter dated XXX

I am a private seller and I was selling my own personal vehicle.

I made you fully aware of all the oil leak related issues of which I was aware. Furthermore it was mentioned in the MOT certificate and also there was an advisory about it.

We even discussed this while we were talking about the sale and I reduce the price to you because of this. You have agreed that there was a price reduction – and although you seem to be suggesting that I only explain the reduction after the sale, this is not at all true and if you want to say differently then I suppose it's a question of my word against yours.

I have no engineering knowledge – and I sold the vehicle to you in absolute good faith. I'm glad that you have noticed that there was no engine warning light and so there was nothing to indicate to me that there might have been any faults other than the ones that I do to your attention.

You took the opportunity to drive the vehicle and to examine it and in fact you arrived at your decision to purchase it from me very quickly. I even said to you that maybe you should take a little time to think about it and you declined.

When you took the vehicle you did not give me your address and despite the fact that I have tried to find you, I have been unable to obtain your address. I do not know why you did not disclose this to me. It has made it extremely difficult to register a transfer of ownership with the DVLA

I notice that you say that you are prepared to take further action. I suppose that means that you are considering making a county court claim against me.

If that's what you have to do then so be it.

Yours sincerely



Check that what has been said in this suggested letter is correct and if you are happy with it then you might want to send this off or amend it to your own taste.

Be aware that they may issue a county court claim against you. I reckon your chances of succeeding against them as better than 75% which isn't bad – but don't forget there is a risk. Also you will have to allocate time to deal with it.

If you lose then you will have to pay them whatever it is they are claiming plus their court costs which might amount to a couple of hundred quid. How far away from you do they live?

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Thank you for that.


No, there is no address on the letter so unless there is a further communication it  is impossible to respond. We seem to be dealing with a very strange mentality here, so they might be prepared to take this to court for the £197.07 it has cost to repair when this was allowed for in the price - pretty close to the estimate of £200 given by my daughter's garage.

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Well this is pretty amazing. They are sending you communications with an implied threat of legal action and they are asking for some kind of solution and yet they don't give you any route by which you can communicate your response.

I suggest that you simply draft a letter as I have suggested above – and then file it and write on the top – not sent as no address provided. And by and large I don't think you have any option other than to ignore them.

I understand from you that there is aptly no route by which you can communicate with them. If that's the case then they are crazy. Keep the letters and don't worry until something more significant happens

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