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So we went used car shopping recently – the FTC and 12 other law enforcement agencies. We visited 94 dealerships in 20 cities across the country. Yes, we saw some low-mileage cream puffs, but that’s not what we were in the market for. We wanted to see if dealerships were displaying the revised Buyers Guide required as of January 28, 2018. The results proved interesting.

According to the FTC’s Used Car Rule, dealers must display the Buyers Guide in the window of used cars. Consumers look to the Guide for important information to consider when used car shopping. After getting feedback from the public, the FTC announced amendments to the Used Car Rule in November 2016 and set January 28, 2018, as the effective date by which dealers had to display the revised Buyers Guide on all used vehicles they offer for sale. Among other things, the revised Buyers Guide:

  • Adds a box that dealers can check to indicate if a vehicle is covered by a third-party warranty and if a service contract may be available;
  • Adds a box to indicate that an unexpired manufacturer’s warranty applies;
  • Adds air bags and catalytic converters to the list of major defects that may occur in used vehicles;
  • Tells consumers about getting a vehicle history report and checking for open recalls; and
  • Adds a statement in Spanish to the English-language Buyers Guide, advising Spanish-speaking consumers to ask for the Buyers Guide in Spanish if the dealer is conducting the sale in Spanish.

The compliance sweep was conducted between April and June 2018 at dealerships in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. Inspectors found Buyers Guides on 70% of the more than 2,300 vehicles inspected. In almost half of those instances, it was the proper revised Buyers Guide. In other cases, it was the old version. Of the 94 dealerships inspectors visited, 33 had the revised Buyers Guide on more than half of their vehicles. And kudos to the 14 dealerships that had the revised Guide on all of their used cars.

FTC staff sent letters to each dealership detailing the results of the inspection and offering resources to help them comply with the amended Rule. What’s the next step? In the coming weeks, inspectors will be returning to the dealerships that weren’t displaying the revised Buyers Guide. Given the potential civil penalty of $41,484 per violation, we hope to see the new Buyers Guide in the windows of all used cars.

Compliance isn’t complicated. Dealers can find materials on the FTC’s portal for the auto industry:

For more information, read Answering Dealers’ Questions about the Revised Used Car Rule and the Dealer’s Guide to the Used Car Rule.

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Kenneth McDonald
July 13, 2018
I am writing this comment in reference to case no:9120xxxx.I am sure you're people are working diligently to look out for the welfare of consumers, but myself and a lot of consumers are waiting patiently to hear about FTCs, cracking down on automobile dealership' s fraudulent business practices, and possibly getting some resolutions about all the money , that's been stolen from us? Please reply soon, Kenneth McDonald
Carolyn Cox
July 12, 2018
what do you do when you find out that the dealer has sold you a car that's not working properly. my son took it to AutoZone and had a test done on it come to find out it had multiple defects they also found out that the check engine light had been disconnected.
FTC Staff
July 13, 2018

In reply to by Carolyn Cox

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. The Buyers Guide tells you the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for. You could contact your state Attorney General about this. Use this list of state Attorneys General to find your Attorney General.

Kenneth McDonald
October 11, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

I contacted Lisa Madigan's office Attorney General go Illinois, concerning all the problems I incurred with my car dealership experience., and got absolutely no results! All I got was back and fourth dialogue, with no resolution?
Denise Quinehan
January 07, 2020

In reply to by Kenneth McDonald

I contacted Az AG.and they did nothing but contact the dealership.And 7 months later they sent me a letter from the deceptive person with copies of a bogus copy.In which that copy proved my case.And that was it.Adopt has been investigating it since 02/07/2019.In the mean time the dealer has made 10 adjustment to the original documents.So did the AG just allow them to fix they're wrong? Absolutely! My case could put an end to these deceptive practices and the corrupt forces that were suppose to protect us tax paying consumers not hinder them.
Kenneth McDonald
October 11, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

What if the dealerships, classified your car as brand new with low mileage, under 40m, shouldn't they still offer Buyers Guide?
July 12, 2018
Congratulation, that what's needed an Agency that do good work
Lisa Smith
July 14, 2018
What about the car dealership that "cause" issues with the car. I took my car to a dealership with no leaks and no other problems to my knowledge. Took it in for an oil change ( all oil changes had been done at this dealership since I purchases this car) They did the oil change and said there was a rusted bolt in the oil pan they would change. Then they come to me and say there is a slow leak they can not figure out where its coming from. Told me to take it home and if it continued to leak to bring it back. Needless to say I took it back. Not only had they did something wrong with the plug on the oil pan but I was told there was another leak coming from something else. Again told them there was no leaking of anything before I took it there. I park in a garage in the same place and would know if there was leaking. He stated it was just an unlucky timing issue and would cost me 1100.00 to fix. I truly believe I was taken advantage of. I believe car dealership should be spot "checked" to see if they take advantage of people.
August 09, 2018
I recently worked at a bank that loaned money for cars (and homeloans etc....) and during training I learned that when you are buying a car and they ask you if you want your first payment in 30 or 45 days that the interest is accruing the minute you leave the lot and I was SHOCKED! And so was everyone else in my class! Only 2 people knew about that out of a class of 30 people and that's becasue they had previously worked for a company that gave auto loans. I really think that the person going over your contract with you should tell you that and it should be a law that they have to because they go through the contract briefly, pretty much giving a one liner of what youll be initialing for on this page. I know it is the consumers responsibility to read the contract but they rush us and bottom line WE TRUST WHAT THEY ARE SAYING IS TRUE! They also need to make sure that the customer understands their interest rate, more importantly, what their DAILY interest rate is. I had 90 accounts that I managed that were 61+ DPD on the verge of repossesion because their payment is EXTREMELY HIGH due to their interest rate being at 23% (for example.) I think its terrible that they prey on folks with not so great credit because now their credit score goes even lower! Consumers are not informed of the fine print when it comes to buying a car and it should be the person giving you a loan that goes over it with you and makes you initial that you understand your daily interest rate and that you understand by choosing 30 or 45 days that interest is accruing daily starting today. So many of our customers would get to the end of their loan and wonder why they still had 5000.00 or more left to pay on the vehicle and I would go over their interest rate, what that amounts to daily, the late payments, the extensions, etc and it never failed...they always told me thank you so much and boy i wish I would have known this before now and no one has EVER went over this stuff with me. I would feel so bad for the consumer. Something needs to be done about these blood sucking car salesmen. Consumers are bamboozled by these people that only care about their commission check. It's so sad and I really hope the FTC does something about this.