The Buyers Guide on a used car can’t confirm whether the original owner was that little old lady who just drove to church, but it offers other important information about the scope of any warranty the car comes with. The FTC’s Used Car Rule requires dealers to display the Buyers Guide on used vehicles offered for sale. As a $90,000 settlement with Arkansas-based Abernathy Motor Company makes clear, non-compliance is a costly option.
What does the Buyers Guide tell prospective buyers? Among other things, whether the vehicle comes with a warranty, and if so, if it’s full or limited; the systems that are covered and for how long; and if it is a limited warranty, the percentage of the cost for covered parts and labor the dealer will pay. A look at the Buyers Guide also will tell people if the vehicle is sold with implied warranties or if it’s sold as-is with no written or implied warranty at all. (A warning to dealers: Some states and Washington, D.C., don’t let dealers sell cars without implied warranties.) Under the Used Car Rule, the Buyers Guide becomes a part of the sales contract and overrides any contrary provision in the contract.
In addition to the $90,000 civil penalty, the FTC settlement with Abernathy Motor Company and two corporate officers requires Used Car Rule compliance and prohibits a broad range of warranty-related misrepresentations. The company also will comply with the Rule’s requirement to include the following statement in its sales contracts: “The information you see on the window form for this vehicle is part of this contract. Information on the window form overrides any contrary provisions in the contract of sale.” For sales conducted in Spanish, the dealership will provide the same information in Spanish.