Code of Practice of the Motoring Industry

The Code of Practice of the Motoring Industry is designed to protect consumers by regulating the conduct of manufacturers, importers, distributors and dealers. It covers:

  • new cars;
  • manufacturers’ warranties;
  • used cars;
  • parts, accessories, petrol and servicing;
  • complaints.

A copy of the Code of Practice of the Motoring Industry can be obtained from the Retail Motor Industry Federation Ltd.

New cars

One of the main issues dealt with by the Code is in relation to new cars. For example:

  • new car dealers must carry out the inspection required by the manufacturers and let customers know this has been done by providing them with a copy of the pre-delivery inspection checklist;
  • any order forms for new cars must show the total price required to put the car on the road. If any conditions are attached they must be reasonable.

Used cars

When a consumer buys a used car, there is much more scope to be ripped off or to be given a bad deal. Consequently, dealers of used cars must adhere to the requirements of the Code as well as those of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This includes ensuring that: 

  • a false trade description is not applied to a car;
  • no cars with a false trade description are supplied – this includes dealers selling cars with a false odometer or mileometer reading;
  • cars should be as described;
  • the car is fit for the purpose for which it is to be put;

It is good practice for a dealer of used cars to pass on any information concerning the car’s history which may have been provided by previous owners of the car. Important information can include the likes of any service records provided by previous owners.

A dealer of used cars should also carry certain pre-sales inspections to provide the customer with a pre-sales information report. This report should be displayed in a prominent place in the car.


Any warranties provided by the manufacturers should be drawn to the customer’s attention and must not restrict the customer’s right to pursue other remedies against the dealer or manufacturer.

A warrant is capable of being transferred to subsequent owners of the vehicle meaning the customer should also be able to take the car to any franchise dealer for that car manufacturer to have repair works carried out.

It is also possible for the warranty period to be extended where, for example, the car is off the road for an extended period following repairs or where faults have reoccurred following repairs.


When an individual takes a vehicle in for major repairs then a firm quotation is required to be given rather than an estimate.

There should be no attempt to exclude liability for loss or damage to the car or its contents during repaid. Adequate insurance should be provided to cover such loss or damage and repairs should be guaranteed for a specific mileage or period.


The Code lays down a complaints procedure in accordance with the following: 

  • that the customer should first refer the specific complaint to the dealer, director or senior executive; 
  • that if the complain is concerned with a new car warranty, the dealer must ensure they contact the manufacturer rather than resolving the complaint themselves;
  • if there is no satisfactory resolution on behalf of the consumer from the dealer or manufacturer the consumer can write to the relevant trade association – however, this can only be done if the dealer is a member;
  • the trade association will attempt to find a settlement between the dealer and consumer through a process of conciliation;
  • consumers can sue instead of choosing arbitration.
Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

Lucy on LinkedIn

Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.