FTC goes used car shopping, “test drives” 2300 vehicles

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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.


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

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.

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.

Congratulation, that what's needed an Agency that do good work

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.

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