Is There A Car Finance Ombudsman?

Car finance agreements can sometimes get into disputes, leading to complaints. This is where the Financial Ombudsman Service comes in.

If you currently have an issue with a car you just bought, remember you have legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act, which allows you to return the vehicle to the dealer for repairs, replacement, or a refund.

What is a car finance ombudsman?

In the UK, the term "car finance ombudsman" typically refers to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The Financial Ombudsman Service is an independent organisation established by law to resolve disputes between consumers and financial services providers, including those related to car finance.

If you have a complaint or dispute with a car finance company or lender, and you are unable to resolve it directly with them, you can escalate the issue to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

They will investigate the matter impartially and work to reach a fair resolution between you and the financial institution.

The service is designed to provide consumers with a means of resolving financial disputes without going through the courts.

Raising a Complaint with a Car Finance Ombudsman

To raise a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) regarding your car finance, follow these steps:

Attempt to Resolve Directly with the Lender

Before involving the ombudsman, try to resolve the issue directly with your car finance lender.

Contact their customer service or complaints department and explain your concerns. They may be able to address your complaint and offer a resolution.

Obtain a Final Response Letter

If you are dissatisfied with the response from your lender, request a "final response letter" from them.

This letter should outline the lender's final decision on your complaint and their reasons for arriving at the said decision.

Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you remain unsatisfied with the resolution provided by the lender, you can escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

You can do this by visiting their website or contacting them by phone or email to request a complaint form.

Complete the Complaint Form

Fill out the complaint form provided by the ombudsman. Include all relevant details about your car finance agreement, the nature of your complaint, any supporting documentation, and the lender's final response letter.

Submit the Complaint Form

Send the completed complaint form, along with any supporting documents, to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can submit it online, by email, or by post.

Cooperate with the Ombudsman's Investigation

The ombudsman will investigate your complaint independently. They may request additional information from you or the lender as part of their review. It's essential to cooperate fully with their inquiries.

Await a Decision

The ombudsman will assess the evidence and make a decision based on their findings. This process may take some time, and they will keep you informed of their progress.

Review the Ombudsman's Decision

Once the ombudsman reaches a decision, they will communicate it to both you and the lender. You can review their decision and decide whether or not to accept it.

Comply with the Decision

If you accept the ombudsman's decision, the lender is usually required to implement the resolution promptly.

If you do not agree with the decision, you have the option to pursue other legal avenues, such as taking the matter to court.

It's important to note that the Financial Ombudsman Service is a free and impartial service designed to resolve disputes between consumers and financial services providers.

They aim to provide a fair and balanced resolution to complaints related to car finance and other financial matters.

What issues to lodge with a car finance ombudsman?

In the UK, you can file various issues related to car finance with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Some common issues that can be filed with the ombudsman include:


If you believe the lender or dealership provided misleading or false information about the car finance agreement, interest rates, or terms.

Payment Problems

Complaints related to payment disputes, including issues with late fees, incorrect payments, or disputes over payment amounts.

Affordability Concerns

If you feel that the car finance agreement was not affordable for you or if you were not properly assessed for affordability by the lender.

Faulty or Unsatisfactory Vehicle

Issues arising from the purchase of a car with defects or that does not meet the agreed-upon condition or specifications.

Default and Repossession

Complaints regarding actions taken by the lender, such as repossessing the vehicle or taking legal action when you've defaulted on payments.

Early Repayment Charges

Disputes over excessive early repayment charges or penalties if you wish to pay off the car finance agreement ahead of schedule.

End of Agreement Options

Issues related to the end of certain car finance agreements, such as personal contract purchase (PCP) or lease agreements, including concerns about options like returning the car, buying it, or trading it in.

Interest Rate Disputes

Complaints about the interest rate charged on the car finance agreement, especially if you believe it was not as agreed upon or if you believe the rate is unfair.

Insurance Add-Ons

Concerns about additional insurance products or warranties added to the finance agreement without your consent or proper explanation.

Compliance with Regulations

Complaints related to the lender's compliance with financial regulations, such as those set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

It's important to note that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) aims to resolve disputes fairly and impartially. They will assess the details of your specific issue and make a determination based on the facts presented.

Before involving the ombudsman, it's generally advisable to attempt to resolve the issue directly with the lender and escalate it to the ombudsman if a satisfactory resolution is not reached.

How to Contact the Financial Ombudsman Office

To contact the Financial Ombudsman Service in the UK, you can follow these steps:

Visit the FOS Website

Go to the official website of the Financial Ombudsman Service, which is

Find the Contact Information

On their website, you will find various options for contacting them. Look for the "Contact Us" or "Get in Touch" section.

Choose Your Preferred Contact Method

The Financial Ombudsman Service typically offers multiple contact options, including phone, email, and online complaint forms. You can choose the method that suits you best.

Call Their Helpline

If you prefer to speak with someone over the phone, there should be a helpline number provided on their website. Make a note of this number and call during their operating hours.


If you prefer to communicate through email, look for the official email address provided on their website. Compose your message and send it to that address.

Online Complaint Form

Many issues with financial services can be raised using the online complaint form on their website. Fill out the required information and submit your complaint.

Write a Letter

If you prefer to send a written letter, check for the postal address on their website. Address your letter to the Financial Ombudsman Service and provide all relevant details.

Social Media

Some organizations provide customer support through social media channels. Check if they have an official presence on platforms like Twitter or Facebook, and send a message if available.

Visit Their Office (if necessary)

In exceptional cases, you may need to visit their office in person. Ensure you have an appointment and know their location before going.

When contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service, be sure to provide all relevant information about your complaint, including any documentation or correspondence related to the issue.

They are there to help resolve disputes between consumers and financial institutions, so it's important to provide them with as much detail as possible to facilitate the process.

Impact of the FOS on the Finance Industry

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) handles various financial disputes, including those related to car finance.

The FOS plays a crucial role in the financial industry in the UK by providing consumers with a means to resolve disputes with financial institutions.

The impact of having an ombudsman service like FOS on the finance industry includes:

Consumer Protection

The presence of an ombudsman service gives consumers confidence that they have recourse when they encounter problems with financial products and services, such as car loans.

This encourages responsible lending practices and ensures that consumers are treated fairly.

Resolution of Disputes

The ombudsman service acts as a neutral third party to resolve disputes between consumers and financial institutions.

This helps to expedite the resolution process and avoid costly and time-consuming legal actions.

Improved Industry Practices

The finance industry is incentivized to improve its practices and customer service to minimise the number of complaints and disputes that end up with the ombudsman.

This leads to more transparency and fairness in financial transactions.

Consumer Confidence

Knowing that there is an ombudsman service available can enhance consumer confidence in the financial sector.

This, in turn, can lead to increased consumer participation in financial markets.


Financial institutions are more likely to comply with regulatory standards and fair lending practices to avoid adverse rulings and reputational damage through the ombudsman service.

Data and Feedback

The ombudsman service collects data on complaints and disputes, which can provide valuable insights into emerging issues and areas where the industry needs improvement. This data can be used by regulators to inform policy decisions.

The impact of an ombudsman service like FOS will change over time and may evolve in response to changes in the financial industry, consumer behaviour, and regulatory developments.


Complaints about a faulty car or unfair terms on a vehicle financing deal are a standard feature of complaints to the Ombudsman.

Customers are required to contact the dealership or financial lender first to help solve the issue. However, if this process does not work, you can go ahead and file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman's Office. 

FAQs on Contacting the Car Finance Ombudsman

How do I complain to a car finance ombudsman?

To file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) in the UK, follow these steps:

1. Contact the Financial Institution:

First, try to resolve the issue with the financial institution involved by following their complaints procedure. Obtain a final response or a deadlock letter if the matter remains unresolved.

2. Contact the FOS:

If you're dissatisfied with the financial institution's response or if they haven't provided a final response within eight weeks, you can contact the FOS. You can do this online through the FOS website, by email, or by phone.

3. Provide Details:

When contacting FOS, provide all relevant details about your complaint, including documentation and correspondence with the financial institution.

The FOS will guide you through the process, investigate the complaint, and issue a decision that both parties are required to comply with.

Filing a complaint with FOS is free and can be done by individuals, small businesses, and charities.

Is there a fee for using a car finance ombudsman?

No, there is no fee for using the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). FOS is designed to be a free and accessible resource for consumers to resolve disputes with financial institutions.

Both the complainant (consumer) and the financial institution involved do not have to pay any fees to use the service.

The cost of operating the FOS is covered by the financial industry through levies and fees paid by the financial institutions themselves as part of their regulatory obligations.

This makes FOS an affordable and widely available option for consumers seeking resolution for financial disputes.

How can a car finance ombudsman help resolve disputes?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) resolves disputes through a process that involves mediation and adjudication.

When a consumer files a complaint with FOS, the ombudsman initially attempts to mediate a resolution between the consumer and the financial institution involved.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the ombudsman conducts a formal investigation, considering all evidence and documentation from both parties.

After the investigation, the ombudsman issues a legally binding decision, which outlines how the dispute should be resolved.

This decision can include orders for compensation, refunds, or other appropriate remedies.

Financial institutions are required to comply with these decisions, and consumers have the option to accept or reject them.

If either party disagrees with the ombudsman's decision, they have the right to pursue legal action through the courts.