CONSUMER watchdogs are trying to track down rogue car dealers with the launch of a new brochure.

A recent spate of complaints about second-hand cars has led Hartlepool Trading Standards to issue the guide book to people who ask for advice on buying a used vehicle.

The publication, called Car Buyers' Guide and Scorecard, is a 20-page guide that includes advice, hints and checklists.

The guide includes a car purchase contract for the seller and buyer to complete, which offers the customer some protection if things do go wrong.

Brian Dinning, senior enforcement officer with Hartlepool Trading Standards, said: "Car buying can be a risky business, and with large sums of money involved, consumers need to ensure their purchase is as risk-free as possible.

"When buying second-hand goods, the onus falls on the buyer to check out the product before buying it. This is pretty straightforward if, for example, you are buying a second-hand wall unit, which you can check yourself.

"Buying a second-hand car is not so straightforward and consumers need to be as well-briefed as possible.

"This is where the guide is an essential tool in preparing yourself before you even start looking at adverts.

"I would strongly advise potential buyers to get hold of a copy."

The guide is available free from the main reception at Hartlepool Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.

It can also be obtained by calling Hartlepool Trading Standards on (01429) 523362.