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Re: Legal standing on buying privately
What is the year and mileage of the car? Have you contacted the seller to get their response to the problems you have found? A private seller must not mis-describe anything but otherwise the legal definition of 'Caveat Emptor' (Let the Buyer Beware) applies - in other words you have to satisfy yourself as to the condition of the item and how much you wish to offer the vendor. All questions you ask must be answered honestly otherwise the seller is in breach of contract.
Just to expand on Hondo's point, it is not illegal to sell an unroadworthy car but it must be declared as such and the seller must not let you drive away a vehicle in such condition (otherwise they are jointly guilty of the offence in permitting you to drive an unroadworthy vehicle). An unroadworthy vehicle must be trailered away etc
How have you determined the loss of compression - have you had it checked by a garage and any print out results etc ?
It is unlikely the seller will take car back & give a refund, but they may make a partial contribution to any remedial work immediately found.
Finally is the sellers name on the V5 & have they owned it a reasonable time. If not they are a 'home trader' and if they havn't declared that then CAB or trading standards may be able to take action against them for illegal trading activities.
Currently in Renoir White's garage:
Renault Trafic 1.7 Petrol Vauxhall Astra 1.4i & in bits Triumph Bonneville T140E & H-D XLH1200