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

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


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.

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