Complaints about second hand car dealers in Essex have reduced dramatically, according to Essex County Council (ECC).

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The authority attributed the fall to a project run by its Trading Standards team.

It targets the most complained about car dealers in Essex and helps them to raise their standards for the benefit of consumers.

Trading Standards officers do this by working closely with the dealers to ensure they understand the consequences of unacceptable level of complaints. The team gives them advice, guidance and reviews their procedures.

The project has seen a 43 per cent decrease in complaints regarding the most complained about dealers. Those who do not follow Trading Standards advice and guidance can be subject to enforcement action.

Essex county councillor, Roger Walters, cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “It is a simple approach but one which is working well. We talk them through the safety risks and explain the consequences of continuing to trade in the way they have been.

“This is often enough to get them to change their ways without us going down the legal route. But the team is clear we will take enforcement action if the trader doesn’t raise its game.”

ECC has said residents should make the following checks before agreeing to buy a second hand car:

• Check on direct.gov.uk to ensure that the mileage of the vehicle is accurate and if any faults that were found on MOT or any advisory notes were noted;

• Check on the HPI or Experian sites (this is chargeable) to ensure that the vehicle has not been stolen, involved in a serious accident, written off or has outstanding finance; and

• Check the details on the V5c form to ensure it has the same number as the chassis number or VIN (Vehicle identification number).

The authority also has a ‘Don’t Be Taken For A Ride’ checklist that can be downloaded from essex.gov.uk/tradingstandards

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