New evidence suggests that car owners are increasingly scrimping on servicing and repairs in the run-up to their vehicle being sold, a national used car retailer reports.
ACF Car Finance says that there has been a sharp rise in the number of its bought-in vehicles which require some form of remedial work before being offered for sale.
In many instances, the skipped maintenance threatens driver safety, and includes worn-out brake pads, tyres on the threshold of legality, and non-functioning lights.
The company says that other jobs typically disregarded by the former owner - such as oil, plugs and filter changes - compromise the car's performance and fuel economy.
"We've even found major omissions like timing belts not being replaced which could land the next owner with a huge repair bill," said Mark Jones, divisional operations manager at ACF Car Finance.
"Our findings have to be put in the context of used car buying policies which already discriminate in favour of the best models in each class, so the broader picture of neglect is probably much worse.
"Buying a car privately these days must be one of the biggest gambles you could take," added Mark.
One year ago, he says, seven percent of the cars bought by ACF Car Finance passed on each of the 136 points covered by the company's independently administered inspection process.
Today, says Mark, that figure is down to just under two percent - and is continuing to fall.
"When personal finances are stretched, it becomes more tempting to miss a service or ignore work which is needed - especially if you have plans to change the vehicle in the foreseeable future.
"A looming bill, such as a new set of tyres, might even trigger a decision to trade the car in, and to put the money towards the deposit on the next vehicle.
"In other words, some people are simply offloading their problems onto the next owner," said Mark.
Those who buy from reputable used car dealers, he points out, would be blissfully unaware that the car was originally traded-in with shortcomings.
Any issues revealed by the company's detailed mechanical and safety inspection are remedied regardless of cost, said Mark, and all cars are MoT tested before re-sale.
This investment in vehicle quality, he added, is reflected in a low 14 percent of cars returned for any type of attention within the six months following their sale, a figure respectably below the 20 percent industry average quoted by a trade association.
Tagged in Motoring