Buying guide

How do I solve issues after buying a car?

If you find yourself having issues, here are some things you can do and information on your rights as a car buyer.

Hopefully, you have a great car purchasing experience – but if you find yourself having issues with the person you bought the car from, here are some things you can do and information on your rights as a car buyer.

Approach the seller

The obvious place to start if you have problems, whether it’s a private or dealer sale, is direct with the seller. The easiest, quickest and most likely cheapest way for everyone to resolve the problem is to do it together. If they agree to meet or communicate with you, bring every piece of paperwork and other details of the sale forward as evidence. If the seller won’t listen, help or is unresponsive, it may be time to look for some third party assistance.

Disputes Tribunal

The standard Disputes Tribunal is for claims up to $15,000 or $20,000 (if both parties agree), and can assist in achieving a dispute resolution if you bought from a private seller (under the Contract and Commercial Law Act).

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal

The MVDT is for claims up to $100,000 (more if both parties agree) under the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017. This applies only when buying from a dealer, registered or unregistered, not private sellers. The tribunal is run by the Ministry of Justice and it’s easy to lodge a claim. At the tribunal, the dealer will be asked to discuss the issue with you and if there's still no resolution that fixes the problem, a hearing will follow. The MVDT doesn’t allow you to be represented by a lawyer, but you can consult with one beforehand.

Registrar of Motor Vehicle Traders

If you bought from a trader who you discover has tampered with the odometer, was trading illegally or is unregistered, you can take your complaint to the Motor Vehicle Traders Registrar.

Motor Trade Association

If the dealer you ended up on the wrong end of a bad deal with is a member of the Motor Trade Association (MTA), you can make a complaint with them.

Commerce Commission

False or misleading statements by car dealers under the Fair Trading Act (FTA) can be reported to the Commerce Commission.


If you drive your new car away and it starts to fall apart, despite having a current Warrant of Fitness (WoF), then something isn’t right. Contact the NZTA to try and resolve WoF complaints.

Trade Me

If the seller won’t reply to your emails, you can file a dispute report.

You can also provide negative feedback about the seller and the reasons why. You can do this by going to your My Trade Me page, locating the auction and clicking the 'Place feedback' button.

Everyone deserves to have a good experience when buying a car, but if you’ve found yourself having issues with your seller, hopefully these tips have given you the support and advice you need. And if you bought a car but haven’t had problems, you should still make sure to have up to date insurance and cover yourself for all eventualities. Our members get a discount on Trade Me insurance, so check it out and get covered!