Proposed changes to the Used Car Rule: What you auto know

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The wheels are turning on proposed updates to the FTC’s Used Car Rule.  Formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule (although only its Mother calls it that), the Rule has been in effect since 1985.  It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, called a Buyers Guide, on used cars they offer for sale.  The Buyers Guide gives people information about the car — for example, whether it’s being sold “as is” or with a warranty, what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty, and the systems the warranty covers.  (Since some states don’t allow the sale of cars “as is,” there’s a different version of the Buyers Guide those dealers need to display.)

As part of its ongoing review of regulations, the FTC asked for feedback about the future of the Used Car Rule.  Based on what people said, the FTC concluded that the Rule still benefits consumers.  So now we'd like your comments about some potential revisions.  What’s under consideration?

  • adding a statement to the Buyers Guide encouraging prospective buyers to get vehicle history information and directing them to an FTC website for more about vehicle histories;
  • adding catalytic converters and airbags to the list of systems on the back of the Buyers Guide;
  • adding a statement in Spanish to the English-language version of the Buyers Guide letting consumers know they can ask for a copy in Spanish;
  • placing boxes on the back of the Buyers Guide where dealers will have the option to tell people whether:  1) the manufacturer’s warranty still applies; 2) the manufacturer’s used vehicle warranty — like a manufacturers certified used car warranty — applies; or 3) some other used vehicle warranty applies.

The FTC specifically wants your input on what should be included on that proposed new consumer website about vehicle histories.  Also under consideration are consumer protection issues arising from used car sales on the Internet.  Is deception prevalent?  What have you observed?

In addition to the request for public comments about proposed changes to the Used Car Rule, the FTC announced a final rule — which takes effect on February 11, 2013 — making some technical corrections to the Spanish translation of the Buyers Guide.

The announcement serves as a timely reminder to bookmark the BCP Business Center’s Automobiles page designed with dealers in mind.  Just a few example of what you’ll find there:  A Dealer's Guide to the Used Car Rule, a brochure chock full of compliance advice; copies of the required Buyers Guide in English and Spanish; and to make things easier for businesses, new fillable versions of the English and Spanish Buyers Guides.

The deadline for comments about the Used Car Rule is February 11, 2013.  Save a step and file online.

UPDATE:  The FTC has extended the deadline to March 13, 2013




Having bought used cars the largest unanswered questions that loom in my mind are always ones concerning the number of people who actually drove the vehicle and for what purpose they used it. A vehicle driven only a short distance daily but in rush hour traffic by more than one driver is likely to show much more wear than a car driven on much farther distances on regular weekend trips.
It is impossible for a dealer to know what kind of driving conditions every vehicle experienced. There is no way of knowing and no way to find out, especially if the vehicle was bought at an auction. I'm not really sure how you are suggesting a dealer go about gaining that information at all, let alone without invading the previous owner's privacy. As a few others have suggested, you could be a responsible car buyer and take some steps to learn more about the vehicle you are thinking about purchasing such as obtaining a vehicle history report, considering the mileage and overall condition of the vehicle, as well as giving the vehicle a 'once over' performed either by yourself or by someone you trust who is knowledgeable about cars/trucks/etc
From what I've read in this business email, I'd add two items: first: make this a uniform standard for every business, dealership, or individual, selling a used vehicle (auto), (truck), etc. second: I feel that the buyers guide - item or bullet point # 3, also needs to be filled out before the time of re-sale, for the buyer's protection. Thank you for the opportunity.
We already have a Spanish version in use, and as far as the vehicle history goes, that's what Carfax is used for. It seems like most of these 'new' regulations are trying to reinvent the wheel and it truely is a wasit of resources.
Some states do not provide lemon law protection for purchasers of used vehicles. It would be helpful to consumers if this information was included on the AS-IS sticker, and if tbe sales person was required to ensure the consumer is aware-much like the HIPPA acknowledgement patients are now required to sign as evidence of being provided with that information.
The FTC announced a final rule — which takes effect on February 11, 2013 — making some technical corrections to the Spanish translation of the Buyers Guide. What are the changes and where can I find a copy?
Vehicle history information is good to have but right now there are no companies that can guarantee the history is complete. If histories are used there should be a disclaimer that states most Vehicle History Company's can only provide recorded repair and collision history. At best Vehicle Histories are 60% to 70% accurate. As for Spanish, many States, Such as Michigan, do not allow documents to be in any language except English, how will this be addressed?
Just a reminder that posting on this blog isn't a substitute for official comments on the public record about pending FTC rules. It's not complicated to file a comment. To let us know what you think about proposed changes to the Used Car Rule, file online:
AS ba consumer, I was directed to the FTC site to "seek vehicle history information about vehicle histories" I come to the site and there is no such help for me as a consumer. Looks like the FTC is offering a bait and swith to get consumers to pay for or car dealers to pay for a Carfax report or the like. The FTC is now going to require free advertising for private companies to sell me a history report that has no goverening rules or standards. Something sounds starnge about this partnership!!
We just don't get a whole lot of people in our shop complaining that they were taken advantage of in their used car purchase. My opinion is that this function is better controlled at the state level and that we should start moving that way gradually instead of adding to the federal guidance.
The trouble with a state by state regulation is the lack of uniformity when comparing used car service between states.
In North Carolina, to register a car without a title, the DMV has to physically look at the serial numbers of the engine and transmission. If the engine is not the original, no title. Quite often they require a surety bond equal to the average market value of the car if it were titled. In addition, to register and title a car, it must be drivable. I went through the process one time and it is not worth it. Better to spend more and get a car with a clear title.
Transparency and trust is what the whole aim is about when dealing with new/used car lots. We assumed that this was a target for the buy here pay here dealerships but it appears to be across the board and is moving state to state. We are working on getting other dealerships in compliance to list on [link removed]. The main objective is to offer customers a better finance option versus having to go one direction only.
Thanks for your comment, Herman. Per our posted commenting policy, we included your comment without the link.
Understand rules about used car purchases!
Definitely knowing vehicle history is very much important when it comes to buying used car! God Post!
Don't know where to ask this. If a used car dealer is offering a car online do they still have to post warranty/no warranty information? Hope you can help. Thanks either way.
Tom44, we're not in a position to offer an official legal opinion, but we read your question and wanted to get back to you ASAP. The FTC's proposed revision to the Used Car Rule includes a section about internet sales on page 74762. I hope that offers some helpful information about this topic.
Thank you so much. You helped a lot.

I bought a vehicle at a dealership yesterday had it an hour and now will not start. Is there a period in which I can return the vehicle? I am in GA

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