Cars and consumer law in Victoria

Guest post from Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s review of consumer contacts in 2016 has identified sales of defective vehicles as the most commonly reported consumer issue in the motor car trading sector.

Last year, many car buyers who contacted Consumer Affairs Victoria identified issues arising from disputes with licensed motor car traders (LMCTs) and repairers, about repairs of major and minor mechanical and electrical faults in new and used vehicles.

In particular, many consumers alleged that traders had not honoured consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), or had failed to comply with their statutory warranty obligations, particularly after initial repairs were ineffective.

LMCTs must provide a buyer with a statutory warranty if the car is less than 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres. A statutory warranty lasts for three months or 5000 kilometres, whichever occurs first.

The trader must:
· repair any faults or defects found during the warranty period to a reasonable condition, taking into account the vehicle’s age
· list any faults not covered by the statutory warranty on a defect notice and display this on the vehicle.

Consumer guarantees provided by the ACL create legal rights and obligations that affect both licensed motor car traders and motor vehicle repairers.
Under the ACL, motor vehicle traders must guarantee that vehicles are of acceptable quality, including that they be safe and durable. Remedies under the consumer guarantees are available for a reasonable time, which can often be longer than statutory warranty.

Under the ACL, motor vehicle repairers must also meet the consumer guarantees of providing services:
· within a reasonable time
· with due care and skill – using an appropriate level of skill/technical knowledge, and taking care to avoid damaging the consumer’s vehicle, and
· that are fit for any purpose specified by the consumer. Any products used should also be fit for purpose and of a standard expected to achieve the results requested by the consumer.

For more information about what to do if repair work is unsatisfactory, view Consumer Affairs Victoria’s If you are not happy with a car repair page.

Information for community and public sector caseworkers and lawyers can be found on Consumer Action Law Centre’s Worker Advice Line page.

For information about buying a new or used car, view Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Motor cars section.

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