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Three-quarters of car buyers fear being sold a ‘lemon’

Press release -

Three-quarters of car buyers fear being sold a ‘lemon’

Three out of four people looking to buy a used car fear they will be ripped off on the forecourt and sold a duff vehicle, according to new poll* of 1,000 motorists.

The survey, carried out by RAC Cars, reveals used car salesmen have failed to shift the dodgy ‘Del Boy’ image, as issues around trust and reliability are top of the list of concerns from people buying a second-hand vehicle.

And, it’s not just car dealers that make people feel wary as more than a quarter (27%) of men and more than a third (35%) of women said the thought of buying a used car from a private owner made them feel ‘stressed and anxious’.

However, despite the lack of faith in the market, many consumers feel they have little choice as 60% said they are unable to afford to buy a new car. In fact, people see used cars as better value for money, with more than a third (36%) thinking that a new car would lose its value too quickly.

The top consumer concerns in the RAC Cars survey were:

  • 73% fear being sold a ‘lemon’ – a duff car with pre-existing problems
  • 37% worry that the car they have bought may be ‘clocked’**
  • 41% say they are concerned about buying a vehicle without a warranty

Instead used car buyers most want to have:

  1. A full service history – 30%
  2. A full MoT and service to reassure them – 28%
  3. A warranty in case something goes wrong – 23%

RAC Cars chairman Rupert Keane said: “Consumers feel like they are stuck down a ‘cul-de-sac’ when it comes to buying a used car as many have little choice but to take the risk despite their anxieties.

“We asked RAC members what they wanted from the used car buying experience and the top answers were quality vehicles, peace of mind and outstanding value for money. RAC Cars will provide all three by giving buyers the reassurance that every car is prepared by dealers to high standards and is supplied with a warranty and RAC breakdown cover should something go wrong. This is why we think the launch of RAC Cars ( looks set to bring a new level of trust, transparency and confidence to the used car market.”

The RAC Cars 3-2-1 Go! reassurance plan includes a minimum of threemonths’ warranty, two months’ RAC Rescue and one five-day drive-away insurance plan included in the advertised price. This allows buyers to immediately enjoy driving their new vehicle with complete confidence.

Keane continues: “The RAC’s decision to bring its name and skills to improve this experience is excellent news for anyone looking for reassurance when buying their next used car. That’s why we believe the launch of RAC Cars, created following the acquisition of, provides ‘the safer way to buy a used car’.”

Prospective buyers logging on to can browse upwards of 60,000 cars and make a purchase safe in the knowledge that the vehicle’s past won’t come back to haunt them.


Notes to Editors

* Research carried out by One Poll with 1,000 UK drivers on 26 April 2013
** Clocking is a term referring to the illegal practice of reducing the number of miles on a vehicle’s odometer

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