Consumer guide to buying a new car


Generally, when you buy a new car you buy directly from a dealer or a garage. You will have a consumer contract with this dealer or garage. Under this contract you have the right to buy a car that is of merchantable quality, as described and fit for its purpose. This means that if there is a fault with the car after you have bought it, the business with whom you have the contract (i.e. the car dealer or garage) must put things right by either repairing the fault or replacing the car. In an extreme situation they may also refund you the cost of the car.

These rules apply only to someone buying a car for their own personal use from someone whose normal business it is to sell cars. If you buy a commercial vehicle (a van, a truck or a tractor) you may not have the same rights as when you buy a car for personal use.

There are additional costs associated with buying a car which you should be aware of before you buy. When budgeting for a car you should take into account that you will need to pay for motor insurance, motor tax, repairs and servicing as well as petrol/diesel. A car with a small engine will cost less to tax, insure and run so keep these factors in mind when you are buying.


Often when you are buying a major item like a car you will need help to finance the purchase. You may decide to buy a car on hire purchase or borrow money to help pay for the car. You should always shop around for the best deal and remember that there is more than one way to finance the cost of a new car. Before getting a loan you should read the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) website on buying a car - your finance options.

If a garage or dealer is offering to arrange finance, they are acting as a credit intermediary and they may be earning commission by arranging your credit for you. The CCPC regulates credit intermediaries and all credit intermediaries must hold an authorisation. Contact the CCPC to find out if the garage that you are dealing with is registered with them.

If you choose to buy a car on hire purchase ensure that you are getting a hire purchase deal and not a consumer hire agreement. When you buy a car on hire purchase ownership of the car passes to you only after you have paid the final instalment. In the case of consumer hire agreement ownership never passes to you. After signing a credit agreement you have a ten-day cooling off period. Some garages may ask you to sign away this right but you should think carefully about this before you waive this right.

Legal requirements when buying a car

If you import a car to Ireland or buy a new car in Ireland you need to ensure that your car is registered and you may be obliged to pay Vehicle Registration Tax. In addition you need to ensure that you have adequate motor insurance and you need to pay motor tax annually. You can find out more about what you need to do in our documents on buying a new car and importing a car into Ireland. If you live in another country and wish to buy a car in Ireland you can register the car here temporarily. You can read about the strict rules that apply to temporary vehicle registration here.

All cars in Ireland need to reach a certain standard of safety and need to be roadworthy. The National Car Test ensures that all vehicles meet certain standards. A new car will need to be tested once it has reached 4 years of age.

If you buy a car and wish to drive it immediately you should ensure that you have the relevant driver’s license for the car.

Vehicle labelling

Since July 2008, a labelling system allows consumers to compare the carbon (CO2) emissions of new cars. The first section of the label shows the emission bands and identifies the band for the particular vehicle to which a label is attached. The second section of the label provides three important points of information for consumers:

  • The amount of fuel required to run the vehicle over 18,000 kilometres
  • The annual motor tax payable
  • The rate of VRT payable on the vehicle

The third section of the label supplements the information provided in the first and second sections, and introduces the importance of driving behaviour. The remaining sections of the label provide essential information on the actual vehicle to which it is attached, including make, model, engine capacity, transmission, fuel type and consumption.

Speedometers should show speeds in kilometres per hour

Since January 2005 all speed limits on road signs in Ireland are expressed in kilometres rather than miles. Drivers need to know what their speed is in kilometres and most new vehicles sold measure speed in both miles per hour and kilometres per hour. Almost all new vehicles on the market since January 2005 have speedometers marked in kilometres per hour.


You may have an older car to trade-in and you should consider what different garages are offering for your car. Again, shopping around for the best price for your trade-in car is the best option. Get independent advice as to what your car is worth before trading it in. A garage or dealer is likely to pay less for it than it’s worth on the open market, as they have to cover costs in selling it on. You may consider selling the car for a higher price by taking out a small advertisement in a newspaper.

How to apply

If you have a problem with a new car that you have bought you should firstly bring the car back to the garage or dealer who should be able to repair any problems that you have. New car distributors usually have comprehensive customer procedures to deal with customer problems. Further advice may be sought from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will give you information on what your rights are should you need it. It has also written an advice page for consumers purchasing new or second-hand cars which is available on its website.

Where to apply

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Bloom House
Railway Street
Dublin 1
D01 C576

Opening Hours: - Lines open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm
Tel: (01) 402 5500
Locall: 1890 432 432

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry

5 Upper Pembroke Street
Dublin 2

Tel: +353 (0)1 6761690
Fax: +353 (0)1 6619213

Page edited: 21 April 2015