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FTC to used car dealers: Play by the rules or pay the price

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The FTC’s Used Car Rule has been the law of the land since 1985. It requires used car dealers to post a Buyers Guide on cars they offer for sale. The Guide gives customers important warranty and other information to help them make an informed buying decision.

So when Abernathy Motor Company failed to display a single Buyers Guide on all of the used cars for sale at its Jonesboro, Arkansas location — even after the FTC warned the company about the violationthe agency said it’s time to pay the piper. Each violation could result in a civil penalty of $16,000.

The FTC’s Buyers Guide must tell you:

  • whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty
  • what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty
  • that spoken promises are difficult to enforce
  • to get all promises in writing
  • to keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale
  • the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for
  • to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy

The back of the Buyers Guide must list the name and address of the dealership, and include the name and phone number of the contact at the dealership in case you have problems or complaints after the sale.

So if you’re shopping for a used car at a dealer, make sure the Buyers Guide is displayed. If not, the FTC wants to hear about it. By the way, if you buy a used car and the sales discussion is conducted in Spanish, you are entitled to see and keep a Spanish-language version of the Buyers Guide.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I've been looking for a specific used car for over 6 mo. and helped others looking for and bought a vehicle. Warranty sheet sere missing from sale papers, none were willing to put verbal conditions in writing and never a comment about common vehicle problems. One salesman stated they would fix problems after vehicle was "SOLD"! That vehicle is still for sale atfer 6 months.

I also bought a 2012 Honda CIVIC LX from online car auction and didn't have any problem right now. It also depend upon from where and whom you are buying.

Thanks for this information. I will remember this law of sales from this point forward. Used car salesmen does rip the consumer off daily and seconds. With their smooth sales pitch and trying ti make all sound like the car is a perfect vehicle for a consumer to purchased. Thanks again for this information. I need to know this from this day forward. I have been lied to by a car salesman.

good information for people to know. thank you, marvin.

What about leases on cars?

When you are shopping to buy or lease a car the advertising and promotion offers can be confusing. The real deal may be buried in the fine print. Before you sign, make sure you understand all the terms of the contract and that all promises are in writing. The article “Are Car Ads Taking you for a Ride?” gives you some questions to ask the dealer to help you determine if the offers are real. You can find more tips in the FTC's webpage Buying & Owning a Car.

what is the law when a truck/car dealership assures a consumer that it's okay to enter a sales contract without taking delivery of the vehicle or paying any money upfront

file a complaint with the ftc

nice article

bought a "as is" car with in house financing option the salesman said the car is a good car they make sure especially since they finance..the car has been sitting more than drivin with problem after problem. Ive had the car almost 30 days, is there anything I can do since they refuse to even attempt to make good. There was no warranty.

I purchased a 2004 Dodge Dakota pick up truck in October 2013. The dealer told me to bring it back and they would make repairs. I have taken it in four times and still having problems. I took it to a dodge dealer who told me the brake repair was done incorrectly. Other issues ie: no headlights, transmission slipping, have still not been addressed.

A dealership sold me a "NEW" car, come to find out it is a "used" car with low miles. This car was an UNWIND, but the title had been issued to the buyer making it used. What can I do?

I bought a used convertible car at a reputable dealer. The next day the top locked up on me. I called the dealer and took it back to their service dept. They've had it for a week and the problem has not been solved. what rights do I have?

I purchased a used 2013 Ford from Med Ved dealership in Castle Rock CO 80104. After purchasing the vehicle I found out the Car had been wrecked before I purchased it. Does the dealer have the right to do this, not letting me know it was wrecked before I purchased it?

This FTC article about Buying a Used Car has information about dealer sales and the Buyers Guide, warranties, what to do if you have problems and handling disputes. Some aspects of used car sales depend on state law. You can contact your state Attorney General or the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators for more information.

I am trying to learn if we bought a used car that didn't have the buyers guide at all, is the sale invalid? would we have the right to ask for a return as the repairs will be more than what we paid-the problem was misrepresented (discussed and lied about by salesman)

Read this FTC article about Buying a used car to see if your state is exempt from the Used Car Rule. The FTC Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells fewer than six cars a year doesn't have to post a Buyers Guide.

I went to a dealership with intentions of trading in my truck for a SUV. Long story short, I ended up walking out and driving my truck home. I never took delivery/possession of the SUV because the contract didn't accurately reflect oral agreements and there were blank/incomplete documents including the buyer's guide. The dealership has, since then, paid off my truck (based off an incomplete transaction?) and filed a complaint for replevin against me. This is just an extremely short description of my situation. At this point, I have no idea of even where to start, so please, I need some help defending myself and rights as a consumer.

You can contact a legal aid lawyer, another attorney, or your State Attorney General's Office.

These are useful details for an FTC complaint.  Please go to ftc.gov/complaint to report this.

salesperson sit in the front passenger's seat when I test drove the car to the mechanic. She did not fasten the seat belt. She told me it was because she was pregnant. Later today I found out that the seat belt doesn't work. It is the law in South Carolina driving all passengers must wear a seatbelt. She did not fasten the seat belt. She told me it was because she was pregnant. Later today I found out that the seat belt doesn't work. It is the law in South Carolina that people buckle their seatbelts what should I do.

There is perceptibly a lot to know about this. I consider you made various nice points in featuring also.

Ok i bought a used jeep compass it wasnt posted on the jeep the buyers guide that was given to me during the sale of the jeep. I test drove it a block or two im in mn so roads were not good i drove it a block or two it seemed fine but the next day i drove more distance and right away noticed i felt like i was driving with boots on a skating rink my rear end and front were all over the rd. I thought it was cause of the rd conditions but realized it wasnt it felt very unsafe come to find out the two back tires the cords on inside of tires are almost threw the rear bushings are bad the dealer did align the tires that helped but said i need new struts and springs i think the tie rods may be bad also but how can they sell a unsafe car and if given as is warrenty at signing of deal which so much was happening i didnt really get informed info on things to ask but ok am i unable to have dealer fix it? Or to take back the jeep? If i wanted to put money within a week of buying it i could of kept my old auto. Why isnt there something no matter what a dealer can not sell autos like this? Is there anything i can do?

You said the Buyers Guide wasn't on the car. Please tell the FTC about that by going online. You can also check with your state Attorney General about your rights after the sale.

I bought a vehicle from a car lot and after getting it home realized it was missing a seat belt and another one was messed up but the car lot won't fix it is there anything I can do to get it fixed with out paying out of pocket???

You may want to contact your state Attorney General about this and ask if the dealer is required to do anything. And please report the car lot the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can help law enforcement keep track of businesses that aren't dealing fairly with consumers.

I bought a Car from a used car lot and it was "AS IS" They had to fix a few things before I got the car. But when I got the car the the alignment was STILL pulling and I told them and they said "Well it's a old car" it's 9 years old. After having it 2 days not my CHECK ENGINE light has come on. What do I do? I"m in California... Nick

You can check with your state Attorney General's office for information about options.

I just bought a 2006 Chrysler Sebring and 15 minutes after I had it off the lot the check engine was on and wouldn't go over 30 mph brought back and that it went into emergency mode he said it was fixed then we got it home only 5 mins down the street turned the lights on and it was reading we were going 20 mph while it was in park and it did the same with blinkers as well. He sold it as is and said he is unwilling to give back our money we only had it for 2 days. It's an electrical issue which is not safe.

It could be your speed sensor. It should be located near the transmission. At least mine was.

My husband bought KIA car that the car dealer sold him as NEW. Recently, he learned that based on USED CAR RULE, the "test drive unit" (demonstrators) a.k.a. "program car" are USED cars and the car dealer is required to display not only Monroney sticker but also Buyers Guide. The dealer sells all test drive units as NEW with only Monroney sticker displayed, no BUYERS GUIDE, and cars are sold to unsuspected buyers as NEW.

If the car has not been titled then it is considered a new vehicle even though it is a program vehicle

This reply contradicts to the statement "Previously titled or not, any vehicle driven for purposes other than moving or test driving, is considered a USED VEHICLE, including light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars ..." in the Dealer's Guide to Used Car Rule published by FTC.

What do you do if you cannot fit your coverage information in the space provided?

I purchased a used car from a dealer. The Buyers Guide was posted on the car, it stated the car had a limited warranty, but neither the Buyers Guide nor warranty was given to me at the time of sale. The Buyer's Agreement contains a mandatory mediation and arbitration provision. If I file a complaint with the FTC, will I be in violation of the Agreement?

The Used Car Rule requires dealers to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale, and to give it to buyers after the sale. You will not be in violation by reporting this to the FTC. You can also check with your state Attorney General about your rights after the sale. For more information, please see the FTC publication, Buying a Used Car.

I just bought a used car under 30 business days. Can I still get a copy of the buyers guider window sticker after I already finalized the agreement contract?

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale, and to give it to buyers after the sale. For more information, please see the FTC publication, Buying a Used Car.

I recently contracted a 2008 Chevy Silverado from abernathy in jonesboro Arkansas on june 23 2017 by may 12 2017 it broke down didn't even get the chance to tag it had it towed back to them may 12 2017 in the am for them to fix it no cost to me their word it is now June 15 2017 still no truck to drive won't take my calls but still expecting payment I still have insurance on the truck I have the title but at this point I refuse to tagg it and am now looking to possibly file chapter 7 because of them and the contract on the truck for 18000 can y'all please give me some advice to help me out in my miserable situation ty sincerely bassmaster!!!!

Our best advice is to contact the Arkansas State Attorney General's Office for help and information.

I got a 03 chevy silverado from a used car lotmaybe 3.5 weeks ago the check engine light came on the first day they took it in to get it fixed. Now after getting it back from them it has more problems that is involved woth the initial issue and its as is. They want me to bring it back for repairs wat are my options

You don't say that there was a problem with the Buyers Guide. You could talk with the seller to see what they will offer you, like repairs or a trade or refund. You could contact your state Attorney General's office or local consumer protection agency and ask about options too.

June 7, 2017 my husband and I purchased a 2011 Jeep Compass. Monday morning after I got off of work at 1 AM the check engine light came on, the car pinged at me nor did it want to go past first gear.

I took it to a local garage to get it fixed. They put it on the computer and said it showed transmission issues. They said it is a CVT transmission that must be checked for fluid levels by a dealership or mechanic and it is not a standard automatic transmission. The shop I took the vehicle to said the transmission was bone dry and advised me to talked to the dealership I purchased it from to see about getting them to make it right by me.

I feel that I was midled by this dealership thinking since the vehicle had been state inspected that they would have checked all of that major stuff.

Bought a used 2013 Ford Escape SEL from a Jaguar / Land Rover dealer for our daughter . The sales sheet stated it had a navigation system. We could have paid the same price for 2014 with navigation and 38000 fewer miles. When we took the SUV to Ford they pulled up the VIN # to show it had NO NAVIGATION. Any resource on this? Thx in advance

You can report this to your state Attorney General and to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. Provide information about the company, what it promised you, and what you actually got.

A few days ago i purchased for my 16 yr old a used vehicle at a used car lot, with no warranty. We were told that the vehicle needed an oil change and there were a few other minor repairs that were needed that we agreed too. However, when we took the car the following day for an oil change, the Mechanics informed us that the vehicle has a main seal leak. I contacted the dealer who said they would pay for half of the repairs. If i read the Buyers Guide correctly, we had the right to be told about all major issues (main seal leak) prior to purchasing. Please advise on how to proceed.

The Buyers Guide must be posted on used cars that are offered for sale. The back of the Guide lists some of the major defects that might occur in a used vehicle. The list gives you some ideas of what kinds of defects to watch out for and ask about when you shop for a car.

I recently purchased a 2015 Mercedes Benz C300 from a used car dealer in NJ. The vehicle was advertised to have leather seats. I based the price I was willing to pay for the Benz on it having leather seats. I find out after the sale that the seats are vinyl. I call the dealer and they offer me a full refund but I have to buy another car from them if I want the refund. I don't want to buy another car from them because have I don't trust them. Do I have a case or do I have to buy another car from them?

You could contact the Attorney General in your home state or the state where the dealer is located about this experience.

Purchased a used 2013 Mercedes Benz vehicle from a reputable Mercedes Benz Dealership in Virginia, with the assurances from the sales manager and senior salesman the vehicle went through an intense rigorous Mercedes Benz Certified Inspection process and reassured me there was nothing mechanically, performance related, or electronically wrong with it. They both stated everything was checked and it worked. They even further stated it was one of the best maintained vehicles on their lot and properly serviced. That the vehicle was a great deal and bargain. I trusted their professional assessment and vouching for the vehicle and its condition.

They also reassured me it would not be on the lot if it was right inside or out as they were a premier dealership and reputation was everything. It was now past closing time, it was dark, snowy, and the vehicle was covered with Snow. We went for a quick test ride city streets and closed the deal without personally checking all functions and they would send me the clean maintenance and service records so I would know the vehicle was impeccable and a sound, solid purchase. I drove home that night about 10:00 pm. Noticed a vibration while driving above 60 on the highway for the first time.

The next day I did a walk around the vehicle in the daylight and noticed some door dings, damage to the rim, and small gash on the front fender. I also noticed the vehicle was not detailed as stated, but just cleaned wiped down and the floor mats looked like they were cleaned with a carpet cleaner. I went to back out of the driveway and the rear camera did not work.

I took the vehicle back to the dealership that day and met with the sales manganger and showed him all and that I was now concerned the vehicle could have additional mechanical and electrical issues not disclosed or picked up during their Certified Inspection Process and I was not happy with the purchase and lost confidence in the Certified Mercedes Inspection and assurances about the condition of the vehicle. He said they were closing at 6pm as it was New Years Eve, but to bring it back Tuesday or Wednesday as they were closed New Years Day and they would repair the camera, fix the damages, and have it thoroughly detailed. In addition we would speak with the Mercedes Certified Senior Vehicle Technician and go over the vehicle.

I have loss trust and confidence in their verbal assurances/warranty and no longer comfortable with this purchase. I did try and bring it back within 24 hours. What are my rights moving forward to return this vehicle if not happy. The paperwork has not been processed as I have until Thursday for the Financing decision as there rate was hire than advertised and only for a 36 month period. Can I just return the vehicle and walk away and continue shopping for a new vehicle? Any recommendations?

what if you buy a car that did not have some of the equipment it was advertised to have?

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