As many as four in ten motorists find mechanical failures in their second-hand cars after purchase, a new survey has suggested.
A poll by motoring group RAC of almost 1,600 drivers found 40% had complained of failures and more than a quarter claimed that the dealer refused to address the problem properly once it was raised.
Common faults raised in previous studies include corroded brake pipes and snapped clutches, while drivers have also complained of misleading advertising and being fed incorrect information about the car.
Second-hand car sales beat new car sales by more than three to one, with 7.4 million sold in 2013 compared to 2.3 million new cars sold over the same period.
The RAC released the findings as it launched its BuySure service - a used car programme providing an 80-point RAC accreditation on vehicles bought through approved dealers.
In advice to car buyers, the RAC suggest: ‘The most important thing is to verify all the vehicle documentation and ensure the person selling the car is legally allowed to do so. If the engine coolant and oil levels are low or we see excessive exhaust smoke, this may indicate poor maintenance, leakage or significant engine wear that could be potentially expensive to repair.
'Then look out for little things, for example, if it only has 7,000 miles on the clock but the seats, carpets or foot pedal rubbers are very warn, this would warrant scrutiny of the mileage reading.’
Regarding engine issues, the RAC advise: ‘There are many ways engines can be made to look or sound better than they actually are, but usually there are ways to detect if something has been ‘spruced up’ for sale. For example, a vehicle that has had the engine bay ‘steam cleaned’ may have been done to remove any evidence of fluid leaks.
‘Our tests carry out a full examination of all levels of fluids such as the engine oil, coolant, brake, clutch, steering and battery. We check for damage or chafing of pipes and auxiliary belts as well as assessing the condition of the main components of the car, such as the radiator, oil cooler and intercooler. Checking to see if the engine starts easily when cold and hot and listen for abnormal noise or poor running symptoms and excessive smoke emissions is also on our ‘hitlist’.’