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If the car you bought is still on hire purchase

This advice applies to England

If you've bought a car that has an outstanding hire purchase or conditional sale agreement on it, you might not actually own it. A car bought in this way belongs to the finance company until all the payments have been made.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to argue that you should be allowed to keep the car. If you can't, you could take whoever sold you the car to court.

If you want to keep the car

If you're a private buyer and you bought the car in good faith, you might be able to show that you have a legal right to own the car. This is called having 'good title'.

This could apply if you didn’t know the car was subject to a hire purchase or a conditional sale agreement when you bought it.

If the finance company contacts you, write to them straight away and explain that you bought the car in good faith. Your letter should include:

  • the name and address of the person you bought the car from
  • the date you bought it
  • how much you paid
  • a copy of the receipt or other proof of purchase

If you knew the car was on hire purchase when you bought it, but you went ahead anyway, you won’t be able to show you have a legal right to own the car. The finance company will be able to repossess it. This is also true if the car had a conditional sale agreement on it.

Taking court action

If the finance company takes the car away from you, you might want to take the seller to court to get your money back. Taking court action can be a slow and expensive process, so make sure you take professional advice before you do this.

Further help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.

If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline.

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UAT (Release)