One in five used cars advertised online have safety issues, trading standards chiefs have warned.
Second hand car buyers were told to be on their guard after London Trading Standards (LTS) inspectors found everything from safety recalls to dodgy mileage in vehicles for sale across the capital.
Officers investigated adverts for 155 cars for sale in London, and discovered a suspected one-in-six ‘private’ sellers were likely to be rogue traders.
Of the adverts investigated, 18 of the vehicles had outstanding safety recalls, and six had manipulated their advertised mileage.
LTS found out that ten of the vehicles advertised were found to be insurance write-offs – a fact clearly omitted from websites.
Though this is a legal requirement for traders, private sellers are under no obligation to inform buyers of insurance write-offs.
The investigators found rogue traders posing as private sellers to take advantage of the fewer protections of their buyers.
From the adverts, it was also found that 18 of the cars were either untaxed or had no MOT, so would be illegal to test drive.
The warning comes as part of the London Trading Standards campaign to raise awareness of consumer protection issues.
Nicola Tudor, chair of LTS’ Fair Trading Group said: “Don’t get taken for a ride when buying a car – it’s not a bargain if it’s unsafe or clocked.
“Trading Standards looks to protect consumers by enforcing the law in relation to the sale of used cars.
“If you suspect that a seller is not complying with legal requirements, report them to Trading Standards.”
LTS recommended buyers check their rights before buying a second hand car – which go further than a vehicle matching its description.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) holds free-to-access information on vehicles, including the mileage and advisory details on a car’s last MOT.
Owen Kennedy, lead officer for motor trade at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “Many car sales go through without a hitch, but you should always remain vigilant.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a new car and forget the basics – remember that you don’t have the same rights when buying from a private individual.
“Check all the paperwork diligently, and use the DVLA or other online services before viewing the vehicle.
“You should also consider whether it’s worth having the vehicle inspected by an independent engineer or garage.”
London Trading Standards is a partnership of 33 trading standards services across the city that work to maintain consumer protection.