More than a third (39%) of motorists who have bought a used-car would under no circumstances use the same dealer again.

A study into the car-buying habits of 1,500 motorists carried out by the RAC also found that 40% of people said they have had a problem with a vehicle bought from a used car dealer and almost a third (29%) said the dealer did not do well in putting the problem right.

And, dealers that rely so heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations should be very concerned as one in three (30%) car owners say they have actively told people not to use a particular car dealer.

Despite the negative experience of some highlighted in the survey conducted for the launch of RAC BuySure, the used car market is thriving and local dealers are in a good position to benefit from the demand.

In fact, 56% of motorists say they would buy a used car rather than a brand new vehicle because new cars depreciate more quickly. In addition, a further 44% feel they get better quality and a higher spec of vehicle if they buy from a used car dealer.

RAC BuySure spokesman Mario Dolcezza said: “The used car dealer is still the first place many people look when they are in the market for a car and our survey suggests 65% of motorists go to a dealer in their area because they think they provide the best value. But this is not always the case as some dealers are clearly not living up to the expectations of their customers.

“Our research findings show that dealers need to be very conscious of the importance of having a good reputation and making sure they always deal well with any issues their customers might experience after buying a car from them otherwise motorists will go elsewhere.”

The prime reason for deciding to change cars was revealed as increasing repair bills (50%), followed by unreliability (41%), however nearly a third (31%) said they just fancied a change while for 29% it was the miles on the clock getting too high.

Mario Dolcezza added: “We understand that for many motorists buying a used car is a big financial commitment and there is real anxiety about unwittingly buying a ‘lemon’ and having no comeback after driving off the forecourt. Dealers really need to make sure they do everything they can to give buyers the utmost confidence in their cars as trust is key in the buying process.”

In response to these long-standing consumer concerns about dealers and stereotypical perceptions of the ‘second-hand car salesman’ the RAC is rolling out its BuySure initiative across the country following a trial period in select locations.

The scheme is being introduced throughout the RAC’s network of approved dealers to ensure used car buyers can drive off the forecourt with confidence in their purchase from a local dealer as each vehicle is prepared to an 82-point RAC standard and comes with a minimum of three months’ RAC breakdown and three months’ RAC Warranty.