Your rights when your used car purchase from a dealer goes wrong

Your rights when your used car purchase from a dealer goes wrong
Photo credit: MBIE / Supplied

Evan Taylor bought an eight-year-old car for $19,000 from a dealer. He thought it was a bargain but quickly discovered all was not right with the car. Luckily, he knew his rights.

"There was a fault with the transmission which became obvious soon after I got the car. I took it back to the dealer as soon as I noticed it," he says.

Just like a faulty TV purchase or a gardener who rips up your flowers instead of the weeds, when you buy a car from a dealer, you most likely have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), if the car is not of an acceptable quality at the time of purchase.

 The CGA is there to protect both buyers and sellers, so there are limitations to the rights you have under the CGA. Whether you are covered under the CGA may depend for example on whether a reasonable consumer would expect a car to have a particular defect having regard to the price, age and mileage of the car at the time of purchase.

  • You can check out your rights at Consumer Protection which provides all the information you need.

"Once they had the car, it took about a month to get sorted", says Evan.

"They didn't seem very keen to deal with me and I had to chase them a little, but to their credit they insisted on using first-party, authorised repairers only. They had me take it to the local mechanic myself and they covered the bill."

Evan's example is a good outcome. He knew his rights under the CGA, and once the problem was diagnosed he dealt with a dealer who was willing to have the car's transmission repaired. It's important that Evan first went back to the dealer to have the transmission repaired and didn't try to get it repaired himself by going to his own mechanic. If Evan had gone to his own mechanic to get the repairs done himself without first asking the dealer to fix the transmission problem, he would have lost his rights under the CGA.

The situation could've been worse if the repairs couldn't be completed at a reasonable price or within a reasonable time. In that case Evan could have rejected the car and chosen to have either a refund of the price he paid for the car or a replacement car from the dealer if one were available.

The CGA in a nutshell:

  • Both buyers and sellers are protected under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
  • The CGA gives you rights when you buy both goods and services for personal use.
  • If you've bought goods or services from a New Zealand business, you may be protected under the CGA.

Power up on the Consumer Guarantees Act at

This story was created for Consumer Protection.