Nuneaton Garage Fined for Selling Unroadworthy Vehicle

Holly Tree Trade Sales Ltd, Midland Road Nuneaton has been successfully prosecuted after the business sold an unroadworthy vehicle to an undercover Trading Standards Officer.

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service brought the prosecution after carrying out checks on the roadworthiness of vehicles on sale on garage forecourts across the county.

Using intelligence gathered from consumers, Trading Standards Officers made an undercover visit to Holly Tree Trade Sales and purchased a Vauxhall Astra. The vehicle had been advertised on the trader’s website and described as ‘sold as seen’. This is an illegal statement that is sometimes used to give a consumer the (false) impression that they don’t have a legal right to reject a faulty vehicle. The vehicle was then checked over by an expert vehicle examiner who concluded that the car was unroadworthy.

He identified a number of faults:

  • Defective rear brakes
  • Broken rear road spring
  • Defective exhaust system
  • Under inflated nearside tyre
  • Extreme variance of tyre pressure

Mr Lake had also failed to put his business name and address on his invoices.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Not everyone is a vehicle expert, which is why it’s vitally important that car dealers ensure that the vehicles they sell are legal and roadworthy.

“Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to take action to prevent the sale of unroadworthy vehicles and protect the car buying public.

“Consumers can also take their own precautions by following our used car buyers top tips.”

Top Tips for Used Car Buyers

  • Although you may pay more for a vehicle from a dealer than a private seller, your consumer rights are much stronger. In addition to your consumer rights, dealers may also offer extended warranties on vehicles they sell, making it easier to get any problems with the vehicle resolved
  • Before you buy, check the vehicle’s history. You can check a car’s MOT history online for free by visiting www.check-mot.service.gov.uk There are also a number of free and paid for apps that enable buyers to discover if the car they are buying has been stolen, written off or has outstanding finance.
  • If you’re not a vehicle expert, consider paying for an independent vehicle check. A basic check will cost about £100.
  • Do a visual check of the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Check the tyre tread depth and underneath the car for repairs, severe corrosion and oil leaks. Look for chips or cracks in the windscreen and dents or rust on the bodywork. Check the engine fluid levels and make sure the electrics work properly (windows/lights/radio).
  • Don’t forget the car’s interior. Sagging, stained and torn upholstery can indicate the vehicle has not been looked after and may be suggestive of problems elsewhere.
  • If you buy a car from a trader and subsequently have problems, you do have a legal right to reject the vehicle or request a repair or replacement, dependent upon circumstances. Contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice on 03454 04 05 06 or visit:  www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards

At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday 13 th August 2019, Dean James Lake (aged 47 of Lutterworth Road Nuneaton) pleaded guilty to three offences on behalf of Holly Tree Trade Sales Limited and one offence personally. A £2500 fine was imposed and costs awarded to the sum of £913.56.

  1. In respect of the unroadworthy vehicle, Holly Tree Trade Sales Limited was fined £1000 for one offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  2. In respect of advertising the vehicle for sale with the term ‘sold as seen’, Holly Tree Trade Sales Limited was fined £1000 under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
  3. In respect of the business names offences, Holly Tree Trade Sales Limited and Mr Dean James were fined a total of £500 under the Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015

A total of four offences

In mitigation, Mr Mathie, representing Mr Lake said that the vehicle had come to the business as a part exchange; they did not want to sell it as a running vehicle but for spares.

However, by mistake a salesperson had allowed the vehicle to be driven away.