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 violation — the 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.