I bought a new car which has paintwork damage. There appear to be white spots under the lacquer on the black paint. What are my rights?

car paintwork damage

We get a lot of questions from readers about their rights after buying a faulty motor. But surprisingly few are about car paintwork damage.

Our reader bought the car and noted that it wasn’t spotlessly clean. When he started washing it at home, he saw that there were white blemishes on the paintwork. He said it looked like water spots on the black paint that had then been lacquered over. Not unreasonably, he wanted this put right as he felt his new car should be in perfect condition.

What are your rights after buying a new car?

When you buy a car from a dealer – whether new or used – it must conform to three things according to the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It must be:

  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose
  • and as described.

If the car had paintwork defects when you got it home, you can argue successfully that it wasn’t of satisfactory quality. Neither was it ‘as described’. We think it unlikely the manufacturer included “comes with special white paint blemishes” it its sales literature for brand-new cars.

If you want to reject the car, you have 30 days from the date of purchase to do so and still receive a full refund. But rejecting a car is a hassle, not least because at the moment, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a replacement quickly. On top of that, we assume that paintwork blemishes aside, you’re totally happy with your car.

Is paintwork covered under warranty?

The car paintjob warranty will be part of the main warranty. But let’s be clear: this shouldn’t be part of a warranty claim and the dealer shouldn’t try to claim that it is. Warranty claims are usually for parts that have failed during the period of the warranty. The blemishes on our reader’s paintwork were probably present when the car left the factory.

car paintwork damage
Dealers will be familiar with most kinds of paintwork damage

What should the reader do?

First of all, don’t go in all guns blazing: there’s no need. The dealer won’t want you to reject the car. That will mean more aggravation for them. And that has the result that they’re effectively on your side. We would ring up the salesperson and explain the situation. Tell them that you are going to send them an email outlining the problem.

This does two things: first of all it shows that you are serious and know what you’re doing. Second it gives you a paper trail. This means if there are problems in the future, or the garage refutes what you say, you have something to show the dealer boss or the arbitrators – if things get that far.

Will car paintwork damage be repaired?

There’s a very good chance that the garage will have seen paintwork damage like this before. And it will have experts with the necessary expertise and skill to polish the blemishes out fairly easily. It most definitely shouldn’t charge you for doing this.

You might also like to suggest to the garage, that when it returns the car to you, it should be spotlessly clean – unlike when you first took delivery of it!

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