Consumer Protections for Buyers of Used Cars

In Maryland, if you buy a used vehicle and it turns out to be a lemon there are various laws that may protect you.  For example, unless the dealership states otherwise in a written contract, your vehicle comes with an implied warranty that the vehicle is fit for transportation i.e. the vehicle is drivable.  A waiver of the implied warranty has to be in writing and signed by the customer.  If your vehicle has less than 60,000 miles on it and it is less than six years old, a car dealership cannot sell you a vehicle without the warranty that the vehicle is fit for transportation.  In addition, according to the Federal Trade Commission, dealers that sell more than five vehicles a year must post a buyer’s guide in every used vehicle that is offered for sale.  The guide must state whether the vehicles is sold as is or with a warranty and what the warranty covers. 

Even if you buy a used vehicle, depending on how old your vehicle is and how many miles are on the vehicle, the manufacturer’s warranty may still cover defects with your vehicle.  The Magnuson- Moss Warranty Act prohibits manufacturers from waiving an implied warranty or conditioning a warranty on the use of certain brand name products, unless they are given permission to do from by the Federal Trade Commission.  This means that if you buy a used vehicle, unless the manufacturer offers to fix items for free, you can use the mechanic of your choice and non-brand name products, such as transmission fluid, as long as they are equivalent to what the dealer instructs you to use.  To verify that a manufacturer’s warranty is still in place, get the vehicle identification number (VIN), and call the manufacturer to verify.  In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, you may be able to purchase a warranty from the dealer to protect you against any defects that may arise.  A warranty bought from a dealer would be in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty and not replace the manufacturer’s warranty.

Moreover, when selling a vehicle, a dealer cannot make a material misrepresentation.  In addition, dealers have to let the consumer know if there vehicle was used for anything other than a consumer good, e.g. was it used as a taxi or used for business purposes.

As a precaution, prior to buying a used vehicle, you should have a mechanic that you trust inspect the vehicle.  You should also run a vehicle history report.  If you get a vehicle history report through the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) the report may tell you if the vehicle was damaged beyond market value or was stolen. This can alert you to problems that your car may have. 

If you have a question regarding a car sale, contact Phillip Chalker by phone (443) 961-7345 or by email phillip@attorneychalker.com to schedule a free strategy session.  We will review the facts of you case and create a plan going forward.