Buying a new car
When you buy a new car from a garage or car dealer, you are entering into a consumer contract. Like all other consumer contracts, you have certain rights under consumer protection law.
When you are buying a new car, you have the right to expect that the car is of satisfactory quality, is fit for purpose and is described accurately by the seller. If you find something wrong with the car after buying it, you have the right to ask the seller to put things right (for example, by repairing or replacing the car or refunding your money). Your consumer rights are set out in the Sale of Goods and Associated Guarantees Act 1980.
Consumer rights only apply to deals between a consumer (a person who buys something for personal use or consumption) and a trader (a person who sells goods or services as part of their trade, business or profession). This means that if you have bought a car from another individual in a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) deal or for commercial use in a business-to-business (B2B) deal, you may not have the same rights if something goes wrong.
If you cannot pay the full cost of your car immediately, there are several car finance options available.
- Getting a personal loan – Many banks, building societies and credit unions offer loans to buy a car. This means you can borrow the money and own the car immediately. You pay back the money in monthly instalments and usually pay fees and interest rates to the lender.
- Hire purchase (HP) agreements – HP is a type of credit that is often offered by garages and car dealers. Under HP, you rent the car, and pay the cost in regular instalments to your lender (who is usually a bank, a building society or finance companies). You can use the car but cannot sell it without the lender’s permission. The lender owns the car until you make the final payment. Find out more in our document about hire purchase.
- Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) – A PCP is similar to an HP agreement. You pay regular instalments and do not own the car until you have made the final payment. The major difference is that you pay lower monthly instalments but owe more money at the end of the PCP agreement.
You should always shop around, compare prices and make sure you know what you are agreeing to before signing a car finance contract. If a garage or car dealer is offering to arrange finance, they are acting as an agent (or a credit intermediary) for a finance company and will earn commission for arranging the loan. Agents must be authorised by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). The CCPC keeps a register of credit intermediaries.
When you buy a car in Ireland, or import it, you must meet a number of legal requirements. These are:
- Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Registration number plates
- Motor tax and insurance
- Testing by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) for cars over 4 years old
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and Value Added Tax (VAT)
All vehicles, except those brought in temporarily by visitors, must be registered with Revenue. You must pay VRT when you register a vehicle in Ireland. Value Added Tax (VAT) is tax charged on the sale of most products.
When you buy a new car from a motor dealer, they register it and pay the VRT and VAT to Revenue. This means that the total you pay for the vehicle should include the VRT and VAT.
After registering the car and paying the VRT, your car dealer will receive:
- A receipt for the VRT paid, showing the car’s registration number
- Form RF 100 for you to use when you apply for motor tax
It is important when buying a car that you check the VRT receipt is correct and you receive this Form RF100, which you must complete and give to your local motor tax office. In all other cases (for example, where you buy a car abroad and bring it into Ireland), you are responsible for registering the vehicle at a National Car Testing Service Centre (NCTS). You can book an appointment online or over-the-phone. The following timeframes apply:
- Booking an appointment for vehicle testing – this must be done within 7 days of the vehicle entering Ireland
- Registering the vehicle – this must be done within 30 days of it arriving into Ireland
Registration number plates
If you’ve bought your car from a dealer, they register it and provide the registration plates on collection. The dealer must have the new registration plates fitted before you take it away.
If you register the car yourself at the NCT centre, and the VRT payment has been accepted, the registration number assigned to the vehicle by Revenue will be issued to you. You can buy Irish number plates at the NCT centre on the day of the inspection. The plates must be displayed on the car within 3 days from the date of registration.
You must register the vehicle before you can pay motor tax. It is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle in Ireland.
Motor tax and motor insurance
By law, you must pay motor tax for your vehicle. Motor tax is a charge set by Government and collected by local authorities. You can pay motor tax for a new vehicle by post or in person at your local motor tax office. Alternatively, it can also be paid online at motortax.ie.
The amount of tax depends on the type of car you have bought. For new cars, motor tax is calculated on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. When taxing a new or imported car, you will need to provide the RF 100 form (from the motor dealer)
You can find out more in our document about motor tax. When paying for motor tax, you must provide the:
- RF100 form to show that you own the vehicle
- Vehicle registration number
- Vehicle insurance details
- Payment details (for example, credit or debit card)
- Personal identification (for online) – this is the last 6 characters of the vehicle’s chassis number which can be found on the RF100 form
By law, you must have motor insurance before you can drive in a public place. It is a serious offence to drive without insurance. If you do so, you could be fined, have penalty points put on your driving licence, or be disqualified from driving. Find out more in our document about motor insurance.
Vehicle labellingA colour-coded labelling system for new cars shows their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These labels are displayed on, or near, any new car for sale.
The first section of the label shows the emission band for the vehicle. The second section of the label tells you:
- How much fuel the vehicle will use over 18,000km
- The annual motor tax
- The rate of VRT
Other sections give information such as the make, engine capacity, and fuel
type of the car.
If you are replacing your old car, trading it in can help to bring down the cost of a new one. You should shop around and see what different garages or car dealerships will offer for your old car as a trade-in.
You should find out what your car is worth before taking it to a dealer. You can get independent expert advice on this from a qualified mechanic or by doing your own research online on motorcheck.ie. Note that a garage or car dealer is likely to pay less for it than if you sell it yourself. The CCPC has more tips about trade-ins.
If things go wrong
If you have a problem with a new car that you have bought, first contact the seller (the garage or car dealership) so that they can put it right. If you cannot resolve the matter or you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the following:
- Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) – The CCPC has particular responsibility for regulating credit intermediaries (such as finance companies that offer loans). You can contact the CCPC for advice about consumer issues, such as faulty cars, regulation of credit intermediaries and unfair commercial practices.
- Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) – SIMI represents the motor industry in Ireland. SIMI members include dealers, repairers, wholesalers, retailers and vehicle testers. All SIMI members must follow a code of ethics. It may be able to help you, through its consumer complaints mediation service.
Find out more in our document on how to make a complaint.
The CCPC has more information about buying cars.