I bought a car on Trade Me from a private seller, and less than two months later the car broke down. What can I do?

Question Details: I bought a car for $2,200 after winning it in a Trade Me auction. Less than 2 months later, the car needs a new transmission seal and the engine needs fixing. The repairs will cost $6,800 and I can't drive the car until the repairs have been carried out. The seller was a private seller. The information the seller gave about the car in the Trade Me auction was misleading. What, if anything, can I do?

Filed under Consumer Law | 2414 View(s)

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

The most effective option would be to take the seller to the Disputes Tribunal. (You will first need to make an attempt to resolve the issue with the seller directly, but if you have already tried this you can go to the Disputes Tribunal.)

If you entered into the contract to buy the car because of misleading information provided by the seller, you will be entitled to damages. It is uncertain how much those damages will amount to. It may be that a practical middle ground could be reached, where the seller refunds the purchase price and you return the car.

Your claim in the Disputes Tribunal would be under the Contractual Remedies Act 1979. That is because, unfortunately, the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 and the Fair Trading Act 1986 do not apply to private sales. Also, the Consumer Guarantees Act only applies to auctions in some limited circumstances.

There is more information on taking a claim to the Disputes Tribunal available here: www.justice.govt.nz. It is an informal, cheap and quick process.

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