The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Federal Trade Commission's Used Car Rule

The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection has established the Used Car Rule to provide consumers with important purchasing and warranty information. The following is a guide from the FTC's Business Center website.

A Dealer's Guide to the Used Car Rule

Most car dealers who sell used vehicles must comply with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) Used Car Rule. In fact, car dealers who sell more than five used vehicles in a 12-month period must comply with the Rule. Banks and financial institutions are exempt from the Rule, as are businesses that sell vehicles to their employees, and lessors who sell a leased vehicle to a lessee, an employee of the lessee, or a buyer found by the lessee.

The Used Car Rule applies in all states except Maine and Wisconsin. These two states are exempt because they have similar regulations that require dealers to post disclosures on used vehicles. The Rule applies in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

This booklet defines the Rule's requirements, explains how to prepare and display the Buyers Guide, and offers a compliance checklist.

You must post a Buyers Guide before you "offer" a used vehicle for sale. A vehicle is offered for sale when you display it for sale or let a customer inspect it for the purpose of buying it, even if the car is not fully prepared for delivery. This requirement also applies to used vehicles for sale on your lot through consignment, power of attorney, or other agreement. At public auctions, dealers and the auction company must comply. The Rule does not apply at auctions that are closed to consumers.

Previously titled or not, any vehicle driven for purposes other than moving or test driving, is considered a used vehicle, including light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars that meet the following specifications:

  • a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 8,500 pounds;
  • a curb weight of less than 6,000 pounds; and
  • a frontal area of less than 46 square feet.

Exceptions to the Rule are:

  • motorcycles;
  • any vehicle sold for scrap or parts if the dealer submits title documents to the appropriate state authority and obtains a salvage certification; and
  • agricultural equipment.

The Buyers Guide

A disclosure document that gives consumers important purchasing and warranty information, the Buyers Guide tells consumers:

  • whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty;
  • what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under warranty;
  • that oral promises are difficult to enforce;
  • to get all promises in writing;
  • to keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale;
  • the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, as well as some of the major problems that consumers should look out for; and
  • to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before they buy.

If you conduct a used car transaction in Spanish, you must post a Spanish language Buyers Guide on the vehicle before you display or offer it for sale.

The Buyers Guide must be posted prominently and conspicuously on or in a vehicle when a car is available for sale. This means it must be in plain view and both sides must be visible. You can hang the Guide from the rear-view mirror inside the car or on a side-view mirror outside the car. You also can place it under a windsheld wiper.The Guide also can be attached to a side window. A Guide in a glove compartment, trunk or under the seat is not conspicuous because it is not in plain sight.

You may remove the Guide for a test drive, but you must replace it as soon as the test drive is over.


  1. 1. joanne newton [ January 26, 2016 @ 10:20AM ]

    I feel I've been intentionally sold a car that needed a catalytic converter.Two days after financing this car the engine light went on , the manager said it was a dummy light, he shut it off, 2 days later is was on , he then said it was the gas cap.Auto Zone said the code was emissions below efficency. The car dealer denied this, and never attempted to check my car again. It was the converter.They refuse to pay for it even though I have an outside warranty, because the converter is not covered.


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