Legal Article - Business Law

Selling and Repairing Unroadworthy Vehicles

To expose/offer for sale or sell unroadworthy vehicles without taking certain steps to make the customer aware is illegal. Unroadworthiness means that the vehicle would not pass an MOT test. 

So to have a vehicle on the forecourt presented for sale with an illegal tyre, or faulty light, with no additional information could lead you to a prosecution. This leaves the motor trader with a dilemma.

Most cars are sold as roadworthy and the seller often wants to put an MOT on it immediately prior to sale to give the ‘full ticket’. However this may not be the wisest course of action. 

 If you have the facilities on site, or a relationship with a local MOT station, then the minimum you should do, when intending to sell a vehicle as roadworthy, is to have a competent person check over the vehicle to ensure it is roadworthy prior to putting on the forecourt. 

 
Trading Standards Officers periodically do swoops on garage forecourts and check the stock. If any Unroadworthy vehicles are up for sale then you can be prosecuted.

One further step along the way you can take to ensure the cars are roadworthy is to actually have them MOT’d before they are put up for sale.

A valid MOT certificate gives consumers some confidence that the vehicle is roadworthy and it will help if Trading Standards do carry out an inspection and find an odd vehicle not to MOT specification.

You are permitted to expose/offer for sale or sell if you can prove that you have made the customer aware that the vehicle is unroadworthy, its use on the road would be unlawful, and that you are satisfied it will not be used on the road until repaired and MOT’d. 

If it is your intention to sell a vehicle as unroadworthy you should make the above information absolutely clear and prominent by way of a notice on the vehicle.

If the customer agrees to the purchase on those terms then the information should be repeated on the sales documents and the customer has the opportunity to read and sign to confirm their understanding.

As well as relaying to the customer that it is unroadworthy, and illegal to use it on the road, and that it should not be used until repaired and MOT’d, we would also suggest that the customer should sign to confirm they will transport it away from your premises.

Needless to say, you should not arrange for a test drive of an unroadworthy vehicle on the road and you should not supply the previous MOT certificate.

There is a further offence in respect of repairing a vehicle and causing it to be in an unroadworthy condition. It is therefore important that a Quality Control system ensures any work on brakes, and other safety items are checked.

Published: 16 Mar 2011

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