Claims car companies are forcing silence on buyers

MAJOR car companies have been making new car buyers sign confidentiality agreements to stop them saying anything about faulty parts, according to consumer group Choice.

In a report released yesterday, Choice said up to 16% of consumers who had problems with their new cars were being "forced" to sign the agreements.

It said the car owners were being made to sign the agreements when trying to get faulty parts or entire vehicles replaced - work that should be covered under consumer laws.

Choice's Alan Kirkland said car companies were "trying to cover up the scale of problems with new cars".

"This practice is totally unacceptable when cars are such a significant purchase and problems may relate to vehicle safety," he said.

"This information should be in the public domain, available to consumers and regulators, and it's time this power imbalance was addressed."

Mr Kirkland said while most issues were minor, up to 14% of car owners faced major problems that could impair the operation of their cars.

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