Written by Nikolina Milošević and Murray Thornhill
You have purchased a used vehicle in the last six months which has been at the mechanic’s more than you have driven it. But, the car salesperson from your local car dealer has just told you that your three-month or 5,000km statutory used-car warranty has lapsed, and they’re no longer responsible for the issues you’re having with the vehicle.
What do you do now?
One of the most common misconceptions amongst consumers is that, somehow, if there is an express warranty on an item they have purchased, then their rights relating to the issues or faults they are experiencing with these items are somehow limited to this warranty provided by the seller.
This is not correct.
What the car-salesperson usually doesn’t tell you is that even though your used-car statutory warranty under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act has expired, you may still have avenues available to you through the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to have that faulty vehicle looked at and fixed, replaced, or your money refunded. It does not matter that the used-car statutory warranty under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act has expired.
This principle applies to almost all other consumer items you have purchased – your mobile phone, computer, furniture, floorboards, even your knives and forks. If the express warranty has lapsed, you may still have rights under the ACL depending on the circumstances.
In fact, in some circumstances, if the seller/supplier of the faulty item has indicated to you that they are not obliged to fix the fault, replace item, or provide a refund, they may be in further breach of the ACL for misleading conduct.
Next time you experience issues or faults with items you have purchased, and your supplier or seller is not willing to assist you to resolve the faults because your ‘warranty has lapsed’, make sure you engage in legal advice before deciding that your rights aren’t worth fighting for.