Have You Bought a Lemon of a Car?

What to do when you have bought a lemon of a car?

  1. There are lemon-laws that help to protect consumers from bad deals
  2. These laws put restrictions and conditions on what a seller may do when selling a car
  3. South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act determines how cars can be sold
  4. Even cars sold as voetstoots – the seller has to be honest about its details with the buyer
  5. You can return a car legally, under certain conditions, within six months of the sale.
  6. Because of the Consumer Protection Act, South Africans can get their money back.


Having a car gives you independence. Without a car you’re always having to wait around till your lift comes or leaves. Once you’ve got your finances in order and you can afford your own car, you’ll feel as free as a bird.

Lemon of a CarIt can be devastating when you discover that the car you’ve waited so long for, is a lemon of a car. It has a host of manufacturing defects that threaten to strip you of your new found independence.

Brand New Cars can also be a Lemon of a Car

Buying a used car that’s a lemon is bad enough but brand new cars can be lemons too. If you discover any kind of defect with a brand new car, you should immediately report any defect to the dealer or to the manufacturer of the vehicle.

The dealer will need to forward written notice to the manufacturer and the manufacturer must repair the problem free of charge and without any added deductibles.

Once you’ve bought a car, you need to know what to do if you find problems. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) might well protect consumers, but buyers need to know that the law isn’t always on their side. For instance, auctions are exempt from the CPA’s warranties. This is because you are buying goods ‘as is’.

Examine a Car Thoroughly before Taking Delivery

When buying a pre-owned vehicle from a dealership, examine the car thoroughly before taking delivery.

The dealership should have a full audit trail of documents that you need copies of. The dealership must provide documentation that discloses the condition of the vehicle when they sell, and these include AA checklists and disclosures from previous owners.

In the event of a dispute, if you believe the dealership has sold you a lemon of a car, you can:

  • Submit your complaint in writing to the dealership
  • Lay out what kind of resolution is required
  • Provide all details and supporting documents
  • The dealership should be given time to resolve the dispute
  • Should there be no practical solutions, and the dealership is a member of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), they can choose to mediate
  • If the dealership isn’t a member of the RMI, the consumer can turn to the Motor Industry Ombudsman


If you opt not to go the Ombudsman route, then you can contact the National Consumer Commission for intervention by visiting their website at ncf.org.za.


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All info was correct at time of publishing February 12, 2019