A Rugby car trader who advertised a Ford Ka as ‘drives terrific’ has been successfully prosecuted after the vehicle was found to be unroadworthy and dangerous to drive.
Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Officers purchased the vehicle from Rugby car dealer Richard Anthony Keene who trades as Bournebrook Motors. The purchase was made as part of a county-wide undercover investigation into the sale of unroadworthy vehicles.
Trading Standards Officers purchased the vehicle for £775 in February. The vehicle was then checked by an expert vehicle examiner, who found it to be in a dangerous condition. A number of faults were discovered including broken springs at both sides of the front suspension and insecure wheel nuts on one of the front wheels.
The expert stated that, with 50 per cent of the required number of wheel nuts either loose or missing, the front wheel would soon have come off the vehicle if it had continued to be driven. The broken front springs would not only have caused the vehicle to handle in an extremely unpredictable manner, but it was almost inevitable that the front suspension would soon have completely collapsed.
At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Monday September 1, Richard Anthony Keene, of Glover St. Coventry, trading as Bournebrook Motors, Unit 3 Laughing Dog Industrial Estate, Rugby, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and two offences under the Road Traffic Act 1988. He was fined £500, ordered to pay £1250 prosecution costs and a £50 victim’s surcharge.
Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Consumers wanting to buy a used car, whatever its price, should have confidence that the vehicle they are purchasing is roadworthy and safe to drive. Unroadworthy vehicles put the lives of all road users at risk.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee added: “We will continue to take action to prevent the sale of dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles, helping to ensure consumers aren’t deceived into buying cars that could be worthless and potentially lethal to drive.”
In mitigation it was stated that Mr Keene had written to the purchaser as soon as he realised that the wheel nuts had been removed/loosened by his mechanic.
Warwickshire Trading Standards Service advises anyone buying a used car, particularly at the cheaper end of the market, to check the vehicle and any paperwork thoroughly before purchase.
Trading Standards advice when buying a used car:
> If you don’t have the expertise to check the car’s condition yourself, have the car checked out by an independent and qualified auto engineer. Alternatively, enlist the help of a mechanically-minded friend or relative who should at least be able to spot the most serious defects.
Check the general condition of the bodywork and look for signs of rust and welding. Don’t pay more than the age and condition of the car warrant. > Make sure that all the tyres, including the spare, have the correct pressure and sufficient tread.
> Go for a thorough test drive.
> Have a history check done on the car. There are organisations which hold data on cars and can tell you, for a fee, whether the car has outstanding finance on it and whether it is an insurance write off or stolen. You can also find out if the mileage is accurate and whether the registration number matches the VIN number.
> Check all the relevant paperwork (including MOT test certificates, service histories etc.) to satisfy yourself that everything is in order.
> Purchasers of older vehicles should ensure that the vehicle is sold with a 12 Months MOT Test Certificate.
> Read the contract carefully before you sign.
> Read the finance agreement (if any) carefully and make sure the figures add up. Look around for credit. You do not have to use the credit on offer from the dealer.
For more advice visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards
Consumers can make a complaint about a car dealer and obtain further advice on their consumer rights by phoning Trading Standards on 03454 040506.
Businesses unsure of their obligations should telephone the Trading Standards Service on 01926 414040 for information and advice.