Jersey Motor Trades Federation
JMTF Blog / Comment
Vehicle Purchase Advice
6/28/2011 3:05:47 PM





Peter Tabb of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation ponders the options


IT’S A CLICHÉ, I know, but you’re likely never to have to spend more money in one go on anything else. That conglomeration of metals, glass, rubber and plastics that we call a motor car will rank, after your house if you choose to buy rather than rent, as the major investment of your life. 

Psychologists have long ago given up trying to explain the link between man (in the humanoid rather than the gender sense) and motor and although the satellite channel devoted to ‘Men and Motors’ moves away from things mechanical to things pulchritudinous after midnight, more than half those who ‘use’ motor cars are female, so gender would seem to have little to do with it.

In Jersey, if you count everything that carries a number plate, there are as many motor vehicles as there are people. Many of these, of course, have replaced pack animals and even human sweat in our modern lives but the biggest single group are cars, very nearly two thirds of them.. 

This is not the place to probe why we buy cars and what cars we will buy but rather how to go about buying and minimising the problems often associated with the parting of a lot of money.

Anyone seeking to buy a car has several sequential choices. Do you buy new or used? If buying new, do you buy from a local dealer, shop around in the United Kingdom or on the Continent for a ‘bargain’ or go surfing on the Internet? If buying ‘used’ do you buy from a dealer or privately? Do you buy for cash or hire purchase? Do you already have a car? If so, do you trade it in or do you sell it separately yourself?

So let’s look at these options. If you have a car and you want to trade it, whether it’s against a new or used car, then your options are limited to visiting one of the many local dealers. While in Europe it is now possible to buy any make of new car from any dealer, in the Channel Islands new cars are still, for all practical purposes, only sold by their manufacturer’s nominated dealer, the so-called ‘block exemption’ legislation now in place in Europe not having yet crossed our little strip of Channel. Since Jersey still lacks a Sale of Goods Act, while a new car is as protected by the manufacturer’s warranty as it is in the UK, used cars are not and although most will carry warranties, many will not and a vehicle sold ‘as seen’ means exactly that and buying a car without a warranty is very much a case of caveat emptor – let the buyer beware! Incidentally, despite horror stories about people buying cars which were still subject to someone else’s hire purchase agreement, you can sell a car while you are still paying hire purchase on it provided you or the dealer advises the finance company concerned. Whatever you still owe (the settlement figure) will be deducted from the trade-in value of your vehicle against your intending purchase. If you are buying a used car and you want reassurance that it is the vendor’s to sell (i.e., that it is not still subject to someone else’s hire purchase agreement) then a call to HPI (Hire Purchase Information) on 01722422422 will almost certainly provide the necessary info. The information costs around £40 but it’s a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind. Furthermore a JMTF member will meet the cost himself.

Buying from the Continent or off the Internet pose their own challenges. While undoubtedly savings can be made, remember that any import will still have to pay the appropriate rate of VRD relevant to its engine size which rather knocks the gloss off the gingerbread!  Warranties too are a lot less certain (they are certainly shorter) and just because a make has a well-established local dealer it doesn’t always follow that he will carry out warranty work on something you bought in a supermarket in Belgium! 

If you buy off the Internet you do so at very much your own risk, particularly with regards to after-sales service which often only exists in cyber-space!

By far the safest course is to buy the car from a reputable dealer. Most dealers will provide a warranty with a used car (unless the car is above a certain age – usually ten years) but few warranties these days are comprehensive and most are accurately termed ‘mechanical breakldown insurance’. In this phrase ‘break’ means what it says and however much you tease out the English language, ‘wear’ and ‘break’ are two different things. Therefore the warranty will cover those things that break but not those that fail through wear. Always, but always, read the small print! 

If you buy from a private individual you have very little protection against something going wrong and thus it is crucial that all rose-tinted spectacles are removed and those stars are banished from your eyes. 

Whoever you are buying from there are few simple rules to follow if your buy is to live up to your expectations.

Always give a car a road test and that means more than driving it up and down for fifty yards.  Check the brakes by stamping the pedal to the floor – the car should pull up in straight line. If it doesn’t, the brakes are unevenly worn. Go up and down the gearbox like you were stirring a Christmas pudding. If the car is an automatic, put the selector into the fixed drive positions and see how the gearbox likes it. Although autos don’t have a conventional clutch, they can still suffer a form of clutch slip. And shouldn’t. Wiggle the steering wheel and make sure the front wheels do what you tell them at the same time. Put on all the lights. Apart from being a hazard, having only a selection of the lights working can be an offence. Listen to the exhaust and watch for any smoke coming out. Smoke usually means that in its internals the engine is worn but again leaving a long plume of oily smoke behind you is another offence. Look at the spare tyre – it should be inflated and have a full tread. Make sure all the instruments work. Bounce up and down on the wings to see whether or not the shock-absorbers squeak in protest (they’re not supposed to). Although you cannot legally test the car above 40 mph, run the rev counter needle around the dial in low gear and see how the engine likes it. Open the bonnet and check oil and water levels including the windscreen washer. If they are where they should be, the car has had a caring owner.  If not, perhaps not. If the car has a service record, have a look through it, particularly if the car has a high mileage. The higher the mileage, the more important the servicing. However, human nature being what it is, the reverse is often the case.   If there is no service record, ask why not. Only when you’re satisfied, do you buy the car.

Members of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation are bound by a code of practice which is as near as a Sale of Goods Act as anything in Jersey so far gets.

Some time in the foreseeable future consumer legislation may well render the JMTF code and complaints procedure obsolete. In the meantime, motorists have at least the satisfaction of knowing that the trade association is also on their side. 

Copies of the JMTF’s list of members, complaints procedure and code of practice are available from the JMTF, tel: 07797 721275. Ends.

PT JMTF 2008
JCC - Rip Off Jersey
6/15/2011 5:06:38 PM

THE Consumer Council has had to publish a front-page correction after erroneously claiming that Islanders were being ripped off by local car dealers.

The ‘unreserved apology’ is printed in the August edition of its magazine Jersey Consumer News.

An article in the April edition of the publication had claimed that Islanders were paying over the odds for cars compared with prices in the UK and on the internet.

‘Unfortunately, we were using some flawed data in our price collection, it was not like-for-like and the accusations of ‘ripping off’ made against local motor traders are unfounded,’ the front page apology said. ‘

Senator Alan Breckon, who spearheads the Consumer Council, said: ‘We are happy to correct this situation in the current edition and I have written to the Jersey Motor Trades Federation with an unreserved apology for the headline.

VED - more motoring taxation
6/15/2011 3:30:41 PM

The Jersey Motor Trades Federation has already made clear its opposition to the new ‘environmental’ tax (Vehicle Emission Duty – VED) being imposed on the new vehicle buyer as proposed in the 2010 Budget Proposals.  The JMTF’s opposition stems from a number of factors:

-         As a matter of principle the JMTF believes that the motorist already bears a significant tax burden and that no new taxes, even for new initiatives, would be required if the States was able to control its spending;

-         The new VED tax is to be imposed exclusively on new vehicles which are, by international regulation, low polluters;

-         Due to the ‘credit crunch’ and the current state of the Island economy, new vehicle registrations are circa 20% down in 2009 compared with 2008 with a loss of up to £1,000,000 in GST.  Further taxes on new vehicles will exacerbate the situation; 

-         When Vehicle Registration Duty was introduced it failed to achieve the Treasury’s budget expectations and ultimately, because of its impact on new registrations, led to a reduction in choice for the consumer;

-         The Minister for Treasury and Resources has acknowledged that his VED proposals are not environmental taxes but fund-raising devices to enable to States to initiate further environmental initiatives.  He also insisted earlier this year that there would be no new taxes in the Budget for 2010 and that in any event he would wait for the economy to start achieving growth before considering any new taxes;

-         Senator T.J. Le Main has proposed an amendment for an ‘annual vehicle emission duty’ based on engine capacity alone.  The JMTF’s view is that while the amendment seeks to address environmental issues in that it imposes a financial ‘penalty’ on large capacity vehicles, it is simplistic and is likely to be viewed by States members as less satisfactory (from the public’s point of view) than that already proposed in the Budget Statement which only affects buyers of new vehicles.  While the Treasury Minister’s further amendment is more realistic inasmuch that it is based on CO2 emissions, it is nevertheless another tax on motorists who are already facing a significant increase in fuel costs if the Minister’s Impôt proposal is accepted;

-         This is the third attempt to introduce a Vehicle Emission Duty.  Both previous attempts failed due to the lack of justification for such a tax.  What has changed?  Furthermore the economy is in a far worse state now than it was then.

The JMTF’s view is that neither proposal warrants support in the House since neither addresses the real problems of soaring public expenditure which often leads to end-of-year surges in departmental spending as departments seek to retain their budgets for the following year.

JCRA Invesitgation
6/15/2011 3:20:59 PM

THE Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority’s investigation into new vehicle prices in Jersey has shown conclusively that claims made against local traders in April last year by the Jersey Consumer Council were ill-founded.  After extensive research into the local motor industry the JCRA’s report concludes that ‘the market for new car sales in Jersey, and that for car repair and warranty service, is working reasonably well and the JCRA has no reasonable cause to suspect any infringement of Jersey’s Competition Law in this sector.  Similarly the JCRA found that the activities of the industry’s trade association, the JMTF, raised no concerns under the Competition Law.

“The motor trade in Jersey is already very competitive and we are pleased that the JCRA have found, as we were confident that they would, that allegations that were levelled at the trade were without foundation,” says spokesman Peter Tabb.  “It is also significant that when opened to public consultation, only two responses were received by the JCRA.

The JCRA investigation was in response to a request received from the Minister of Economic Development last September following the publication of the Consumer Council newsletter and the Council’s subsequent withdrawal of its allegations and unreserved apology to the trade.  We hope that the Minister will consider that this now closes this particular matter.”

New President - Press Release
5/27/2011 7:28:20 PM


THE Jersey Motor Trades Federation has a new president.  Andrew Ruellan of Ruellan’s Garage in Tunnell Street was elected president at the JMTF’s recent annual general meeting.  Mr Ruellan (42) takes over from Mr Iain Carse from La Motte Ford who has completed his three year term of office.


Ruellan’s Garage is a BMW and Mercedes specialist. Jersey-born Mr Ruellan  has been in the motor trade for 26 years, training first with Freelance Motors and Jacksons Garage before setting up his own business in 1990 and since then has built a considerable reputation for service and mechanical repairs, attending frequent training courses with manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz both in Germany and the United States.  Such is his breadth of knowledge of these marques that he now gives lectures in the UK on training on BMW and Mercedes systems.  His company’s move to Tunnell Street seven months ago represents a significant development, enabling him to extend his services to a growing number of customers.  He currently employs seven staff including a female apprentice.


“Taking on the presidency of the JMTF is a considerable challenge,” says Mr Ruellan, “particularly for an independent trader, but in these days of constantly increasing regulation and government policies which impact on traders, it is vital that the trade speaks with a united voice and, more particularly, is perceived as representing all aspects of the motor trade, from the major distributor to the one-man operation.  I am also fortunate is having the support of a council which also reflects the diversity of the trade and with long experience of trading in Jersey.”




Issued by Peter Tabb, JMTF,  13 May 2011


For further information contact Andrew Ruellan, tel: 880340, or Peter Tabb, tel: 07797 721275

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