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Too many used car ads on Facebook Marketplace lack safety details

Selling a car without safety information isn’t illegal, however, selling an unroadworthy car is illegal unless the buyer is fully aware.

Prices are surging for goods including used cars across the United States, but consumer confidence data indicates Americans' inflation expectations are dropping
Prices are surging for goods including used cars across the United States, but consumer confidence data indicates Americans' inflation expectations are dropping - Copyright AFP/File FABRICE COFFRINI
Prices are surging for goods including used cars across the United States, but consumer confidence data indicates Americans' inflation expectations are dropping - Copyright AFP/File FABRICE COFFRINI

A  new study has uncovered an alarming trend: sellers advertising cars on Facebook Marketplace without disclosing important safety information.

This assessment comes from automotive experts at etyres who have analysed 200 used car advertisements from across the UK on Facebook Marketplace. The company has provided the output of its analysis to Digital Journal. From these data, they have calculated how many fail to mention safety details such as MOT status, service history, tyre condition, and V5C log book information.

Concerningly, one in four of the advertisements analysed do not include any of this safety information whatsoever.

The UK Consumer Rights Act states that goods sold by individuals must match their description. Selling a car without safety information isn’t illegal, however, selling an unroadworthy car is illegal unless the buyer is fully aware. If the buyer proceeds with the purchase despite missing safety details and the seller hasn’t made false claims, returning the car isn’t an option, leaving the buyer responsible for any costs.

Four  hidden safety risks of buying cars from Facebook Marketplace revealed by research are:

Not listing MOT status

While it’s legal to privately sell a car that has failed its MOT, buyers must be aware so they can arrange transportation to a garage for the test as soon as they purchase the car. Driving a car without a valid MOT certificate, including during test drives,  can result in hefty fines of up to £1,000.

Failing to disclose tyre information

Only one in seven car advertisements analysed disclosed any information about tyres. Tyre  tread depth is a critical safety indicator, yet only one in seven car advertisements  analysed disclosed any information about tyres. 

Given that tyre tread depth is the most  common reason cars fail their MOT in winter  followed by tyre faults in general, this oversight is alarming. The legal tread depth limit in the UK is 1.6mm.

Service history omissions

Some 70 percent of car advertisements  analysed omit crucial service history information.   It is estimated that not having a full-service history for your car can reduce its value by as much as 20%. Regular services allow small issues with cars to be identified and fixed before they become big problems that could lead to safety issues and MOT failure  further down the road. As a buyer, if you are opting to buy a car that doesn’t have a full service history ensure this is reflected in the asking price before sealing the deal.

Missing V5C log book

A  concerning 90 percent of car advertisements  analysed failed to mention the presence of a V5C logbook.  The absence of this document raises significant concerns, including the risk of purchasing a stolen, written-off, or vehicle with unpaid finance against it. Even if there are no untoward reasons why the logbook is missing it costs £25 to replace it.

Methodology:  etyres analysed 200 used car advertisements from Facebook marketplace from areas across the UK. All advertisements were for used Ford Fiesta cars, the most popular car in the UK. Data correct as of February 2024.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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