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How does the Common Law protect you in these circumstances and

How does the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 (CPA) protect you?

What do you need to do and what are the guidelines in this situation?

Because of the number of queries, we receive on a weekly basis from our clients with regard to a damaged and defective vehicle that they have bought; we are once again going to look at what to do in the situation where you have bought a “lemon” from a motor vehicle dealer.

One of the most expensive items that consumers buy is a motor vehicle.

One cannot afford a mistake or to have to carry the cost yourself of expensive repairs to a recently bought vehicle.

It is not fair and is also not your responsibility.

You have the right in certain circumstances to either a repair, or a replacement or a refund at the dealer’s expense.

So if you have bought a brand new motor car or a good quality “used” vehicle and within a short period of time you realise that the vehicle you bought is defective, damaged or not fit for the purpose for which you bought it for; or worse still you discover that it was previously involved in a collision and this fact was not disclosed to you at the time of the sale.

At The Legal Advice Office we get numerous queries from consumers with exactly this type of scenario.

Well the question is then. What exactly DO you do in these circumstances or perhaps in similar circumstances?

Here are some guidelines: 10 clear steps and tips as to what you should do in these circumstances.

  1. Go back to the dealer from whom you bought the car and advise them immediately of the problem and allow them to inspect the vehicle and report back to you on their findings.
  2. At the same time request them to do a thorough inspection of the entire vehicle from bumper to bumper to check for any other possible problems or defects.
  3. If you feel it is necessary get another full diagnostic check done of the vehicle from an independent service provider; and get that report in writing.
  4. Discuss the findings of the above inspections with the dealership from whom you bought the vehicle; and ask them what they intend doing about the various issues you have now discovered.
  5. Do NOT simply agree to or allow them to repair the vehicle.
  6. Remember that it is your choice as a consumer to choose the remedy namely; either a repair; or a replacement vehicle in the event that the defect/s are material; or a refund also only in the event again of the defect/ being material.
  7. Get proper professional legal advice as to what you should do in the circumstances before giving any instruction to the dealership.
  8. Always remember that you as the consumer have the protection of Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008.
  9. If for whatever reason you do not have the protection of the CPA; you may well have the protection of the common law depending on the facts of your particular matter and the remedy may well be similar.
  10. The above should be followed as soon as you are aware of the problem and not weeks or months later or you may have lost your legal remedy.
  11. Be practical and astute in making your decision as to either a repair, replacement or refund in terms of the CPA or a refund or quanti minoris in terms of the common law.

The above 10 guidelines should apply in most circumstances although the facts of each particular matter will be different; and these steps, as outlined above, may well have to be adjusted accordingly.

The same intervention processes and procedures apply to the purchase of all major consumer items in addition to and not only to motor vehicles.

You would be strongly advised in any of the above circumstances to contact The Legal Advice Office to attend to this or any intervention process for you; and not to attempt to do so on your own as you do not normally have the necessary legal or practical experience; or expert knowledge to do so.

If you have experienced difficulties with buying a new or used car in the last six months; contact The Legal Advice Office at or at one of our email addresses; either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Should you wish to comment on this or any other legal topic; just send us an e-mail; and we will respond within 48 hours.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.


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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (0) 82 093 2304