BOSTON --- The Attorneys General of 42 U.S. states and territories have asked the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen "Buyer's Guide" notices to indicate whether used cars, trucks or SUVs offered for sale have been assigned titles indicating past flood or collision damage.
The Attorneys General made their appeal in the form of a "comment" letter submitted to the FTC. They noted that Wisconsin already requires prior damage information to be disclosed on their Buyer's Guide -- a requirement that drew FTC approval.
"Today, we are urging the FTC to update its Buyer's Guide, which is over 25 years old, by providing consumers with critical information about one of the most important purchases they will ever make," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. "While the law currently requires dealers to disclose warranty information concerning the vehicle, it omits certain essential information consumers need when considering this purchase -- that is the vehicle's history and prior use, including its prior title status, damage history, and whether it was repurchased by the vehicle manufacturer pursuant to a state Lemon Law."
Under the FTC's "Used Car Rule," Buyer's Guide notices must be posted on used vehicles offered for sale. The current rule requires Buyer's Guide notices on used vehicles to tell prospective buyers whether the car is offered with a warranty, or is being sold "as-is," without a warranty.
Massachusetts requested and received an exemption from this provision, because in Massachusetts it is unlawful to mark a car "as-is." Massachusetts stickers must state whether the car is sold with or without express warranties, and state that the vehicle is subject to the Massachusetts Used Vehicle Warranty Law.
The attorneys general argued the rule should be modified to provide more protections. While the states believe that the warranty information is valuable for used-car buyers, they maintain that the rule's value is limited by the fact that it does not require notice about a vehicle's damage history and prior use.
"Nothing diminishes the market value of a used vehicle more than a history of crashes or flood damage," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. "Consumers should be entitled to know instantly if a vehicle has been damaged by flood or collision."
The states' comment was filed by the Attorneys General of 40 states and two territories: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.