Trading Standards News: ‘Out of his Depth’ Car Dealer Sold Unroadworthy Car He Described as ‘Excellent’

Ansty car dealer, Steven Alan Ring (aged 30 of Grosvenor Road Coventry), trading as Impact Autos (Mobbswood Farm Ansty), has been successfully prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

Warwickshire Trading Standards undertook to investigate Impact Autos after an influx of complaints over a short period and two undercover Trading Standards Officers were sent in to purchase a vehicle from the business.

The vehicle they chose was a Fiat Stilo that had been advertised in AutoTrader magazine as having ‘excellent body work’, ‘excellent tyre condition’ and had been given a full service.

In reality, the vehicle was completely unroadworthy. After purchasing the vehicle, Trading Standards Officers handed it over to an expert vehicle examiner. He found a range of serious problems. The rear brakes were in a poor condition, parts of the suspension had perished and the tyres were either under or over inflated and one had poor tread depth.

Other problems included a corroded fuel filter, damaged wiper blades and windscreen washers that did not work. Many of these faults would have attracted a failure notice in an MOT test and suggested to the vehicle examiner that the car had not been serviced at all or if it had, then very poorly.

Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“When we buy a used car, whatever its price, we should have confidence that the vehicle we are purchasing is roadworthy and safe to drive.”

“It’s completely unacceptable that some car dealers are using words like ‘excellent’ in advertisements to describe vehicles that are actually unroadworthy.”

“Unroadworthy vehicles put the lives of all road users at risk. Warwickshire Trading Standards Service will continue to take action to prevent the sale of potentially dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles, helping to ensure consumers aren’t deceived into buying cars that could be worthless and potentially lethal to drive.”

Mr Ring had also attempted to deny his customers their statutory consumer rights by stating that vehicles priced at under £1000 were ‘sold as seen’.

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday 25th July 2017 Steven Alan Ring trading as Impact Autos pleaded guilty to all the charges put to him under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Road Traffic Act 1988 and General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

In mitigation, Mr Ring (representing himself) said that he was ashamed. He went on to admit that at the time the offences were committed he was out of his depth and unaware of his obligations and how his failures could have compromised the safety of customers.

He further said that he has since improved his practices, he has an independent garage assess vehicles before sale and they carry out MOTs. He explained that he also has a mechanic on site.

He said road safety was now his priority, rather than maximum profit.

In sentencing Mr Ring, the Chair expressed how very concerned the Court was about the issues they had heard about from the Prosecutor. He said that Mr Ring had placed people at risk and there was no evidence to support his claim that he had either taken notice of Trading Standard’s guidance, given only three weeks prior to the date of the offences, or had actually taken measures to improve his practices since. He told him that had it not been for his previous good character, a custodial sentence could have been very likely.

Mr Ring was fined £1120 and ordered to pay legal costs of £1428.91 and a victim surcharge of £112, a total of £2660.91.

Advice to consumers purchasing second hand vehicles

Before you buy a used car, why not use these free online tools to check it out? You only need the vehicle’s registration number.

There are two Government websites that provide free information about vehicles: the MOT history website and the DVLA’s vehicle enquiry website.

The MOT history website

The MOT history website provides detailed information of a car’s MOT history.

This includes previous test dates, what the mileage was at the time, whether the vehicle passed or failed and reasons for any failure points. Use this website to check mileage accuracy and to get an idea of vehicle condition before buying.

Visit: https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk and https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/mot-insurance

The DVLA website

The DVLA website has information on the tax/SORN status of the vehicle, year of manufacture, date first registered, engine size and colour and

Visit: https://www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/

There are also commercial websites that will tell you, without charge, if the vehicle has been stolen or imported. For a few pounds you can get further information including whether there is any outstanding finance on the car or if the vehicle has ever been written off or scrapped.

Warwickshire residents wishing to make a complaint about a vehicle they have purchased can do so by contacting Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.