“Almost every dispute concerning a faulty vehicle that we’re asked to help resolve could have been prevented had its pre-sales checks been performed properly,” said Ferguson.

“The biggest problem with these checks is that the technicians who do them are working to the time allowed, rather than the time required. We’ve seen 300-point checklists that must be done in 20 minutes. We know dealers are selling cars that have received nothing more than a cursory examination at best.”

Ferguson claimed that problems with used car checks aren’t confined to online retailers. Manufacturers’ approved used schemes – the gold standard of used-car retailing – can be just as flawed.

Part of the appeal of such schemes is the number of checks that are carried out, with car makers competing to boast the highest number.

However, Ferguson said the quality, rather than the number, of checks matters more: “Often, cars are simply inspected on the workshop ramp. That’s fine for visual checks, such as tyre condition and oil leaks, but car makers and workshops must allow additional time for cars to be properly road-tested, when any issues with its mechanicals and driver-assistance features will become apparent.”

One manufacturer that does insist on this is Suzuki. Dealers who have signed up to its Approved Used Car Programme must, as part of the scheme’s 81-point inspection, road-test each car.


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