FTC Looks for Revised Used Car Buyers Guides

The FTC’s Used Car Rule says that dealers have to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they have for sale, and give it to buyers after the sale. The FTC recently checked out how dealers are following that rule in 20 cities, visiting 94 dealerships, and inspecting more than 2325 vehicles.

The Guide, which was updated in 2016, tells you about the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the big problems you should look out for. It says whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty, and what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty. And it tells you to get all promises in writing.

Why check things out now? Well, dealers were required to start using the new version of the Guide on January 28, 2018. And here’s what we found. Of the more than 2325 vehicles inspected, almost half had the revised Buyers Guide. Dealers not displaying the revised Guide received letters warning them to bring their dealerships into compliance.

If you’re buying a used car, it pays to be prepared.

  • Get a vehicle history report before you buy. It can tell you a lot about a used car: ownership history, whether the car was in any accidents, its repair records, and whether it ever was declared as salvage.
  • Consider getting an independent inspection by a mechanic you hire — even if the car has been inspected by the dealer.
  • Figure out how much to pay for a used car. There are commercial services with information about the value and pricing of used vehicles.
  • Look for the Buyers Guide. If the dealer doesn’t display the new Buyers Guide, you might want to shop elsewhere. And please report it to the FTC.

For more information, visit ftc.gov/usedcars.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.