Used and Pre-Owned Car Help

What Rights Do I Have If I Purchase A Used Or Pre-Owned Vehicle?

The Lemon Law varies by state. The main purpose of the Pennsylvania Lemon Law and the New Jersey Lemon Law is to provide motor vehicle owners with a no cost method of forcing vehicle makers to repurchase defective newly purchased or leased vehicles. If the Lemon Law is found to have been violated, the manufacturer must buy the consumer’s vehicle back and pay all of their attorney’s fees.

Used or pre-owned vehicles are not covered by new car lemon laws. New Jersey enacted the New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law in 1996 to protect consumers who purchase a used car from a New Jersey Dealer.

Your rights vary depending whether you purchased the used vehicle from a dealer or purchased the used vehicle from an individual, and has an unexpired manufacturer’s warranty, a warranty provided by the dealer, an implied warranty, a service contract, or was purchased “as is” without a warranty.

Used Cars Purchased From A Dealer

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car offered for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars. Demonstrators are new cars that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but have been driven by dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals. Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year doesn’t have to post a Buyers Guide.

The Buyers Guide must tell you:

  • whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” without a warranty or with a warranty;
  • what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
  • that spoken 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;
  • some of the major problems you should look out for; and
  • to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide must reflect any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your purchase documents and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold “as is,” the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.

Used Cars Purchased From An Individual

Individual or private sellers generally are not covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule and don’t have to use the Buyers Guide. Also, private sales usually are not covered by an implied warranty. A private sale typically will be sold “as is” without a warranty, unless the purchase agreement with the private seller specifically states otherwise. If you have a written contract, the private seller is required to live up to the promises stated in the purchase documents. The vehicle may also be covered by a unexpired manufacturer’s warranty or a separately purchased service contract. However, warranties and service contracts may not be transferable, and other limits or costs may apply.

Unexpired Manufacturer’s Warranties

If the manufacturer’s warranty still is in effect you should have received the warranty coverage documents from the dealer. You can verify the warranty information (what’s covered, expiration date/miles, and necessary paperwork) by calling the manufacturer’s zone office.

Dealer Warranties

Dealers may offer a full or limited warranty on all or some of a vehicle’s systems or components. Most used car warranties are limited and their coverage varies. A full or limited warranty doesn’t have to cover the entire vehicle. The dealer may specify that only certain systems are covered. Some parts or systems may be covered by a full warranty; others by a limited warranty. You have the right to see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy. The warranty gives detailed information, such as how to get repairs for a covered system or part. It also tells who is legally responsible for fulfilling the terms of the warranty. You should have received a copy of the dealer’s warranty document if you purchased a car that with a warranty.

Implied Warranties

State laws hold dealers responsible if cars they sell don’t meet reasonable quality standards. These obligations are called implied warranties – unspoken, unwritten promises from the seller to the buyer. However, dealers in most states can use the words “as is” or “with all faults” in a written notice to buyers to eliminate implied warranties. There is no specified time period for implied warranties.

Service Contracts

Like a warranty, a service contract provides repair and/or maintenance for a specific period. Warranties are included in the price of the vehicle, but service contracts cost extra and are sold separately.

“As Is” No Warranty

Purchasing a vehicle “as is” means that you have purchased the vehicle in its current condition. The purchase documents will reflect the vehicle was purchased “as is”. If the “as is” vehicle has mechanical problems the dealership is not required to repair mechanical problems. It is also more difficult to sue the manufacturer or seller. However, a used car dealer is required to disclose any frame damage, any engine head or block crack, if the transmission or differential needs replacement and if the vehicle is flood damages. If you purchase a non-warranted vehicle “as is” from an individual you have little or no legal protection.

When a dealer offers a vehicle “as is,” the FTC Used Car Rule requires that the box next to the “As Is – No Warranty” disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be checked. If the box is checked but the dealer promises to repair the vehicle or cancel the sale if you’re not satisfied, make sure the promise is written on the Buyers Guide. Otherwise, you may have a hard time getting the dealer to make good on his word.

Some states, including Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, don’t allow “as is” sales for many used vehicles.

Three states – Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Washington – require different disclosures than those on the Buyers Guide. If the dealer fails to provide proper state disclosures, the sale is not “as is.” To find out what disclosures are required for “as is” sales in your state, contact your state Attorney General.

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Power & Associates has represented thousands of clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit our Satisfied Clients page to read “real world” testimonials from past satisfied lemon law clients. Our law firm’s office is located in Glen Mills, PA. We can help you with your lemon law issue regardless of where you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

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Lemon Law “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER” at Power & Associates. Let us evaluate your case and explain your rights. We can help you get a new car, a full refund, or a partial refund for your lemon under the PA Lemon Law or NJ Lemon Law at no cost to you! Call us at 1.866.536.6611 or use the email form on the right to tell us about your lemon and get FREE Lemon Aid.