The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had a Used Car Rule enacted for sometime now. It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, also known as a “Buyers Guide” on any used cars that are for sale. This guide contains information on things like whether the used vehicle is under warranty, sold in “as is” condition, terms and conditions of sale, repair costs the dealer will pay, etc. In 2012, the FTC reached out to the public for proposed changes to these window stickers. November of 2016 finally saw some of these changes enacted, and it’s a smart move on the part of the FTC – not to mention, beneficial for consumers. The two highlights of the latest amendment to this long-standing rule add a statement that directs consumers to first obtain a vehicle history report, and then check for open recalls – before you buy.
Why is this a smart move? Because, it’s one of the most important steps in the used car buying process. A step that many people foolishly skip.
Don’t Buy a Car on Your First Visit
Since this aligns perfectly with what this article is going to discuss, regarding the FTC, I want to reiterate what might just be the number one rule of car buying:
Whether you’re shopping for a new or used vehicle, never buy from a dealership on the first visit.
This is a general rule of thumb for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it creates a no-pressure atmosphere for you. If you make it clear right off the bat you don’t plan on buying on your first visit, then you likely won’t get suckered in to buying something.
Secondly, you won’t impulsively buy a vehicle 10-grand over budget because it had a sunroof, heated/massaging seats, and all the options tagged on. If you make a budget, stick to it. The best way to do this is not impulsively buy the first thing you look at. There are better deals out there, so start looking.
Finally, holding off on your purchase ensures that you don’t walk away with a problem car. As in, a car that has a history of accidents or a sketchy recall history. The FTC is clearly trying to mitigate these traps, even though it’s been your responsibility since day one of car buying to make sure the used car you’re getting isn’t a piece of crap.
Why This Amendment is a Smart Move
Hopefully, having a statement right in front of you telling you to check the open recall and vehicle history report of a used car will kick your ass into gear. For some, it will simply serve as a reminder. For others, I’m sure this will be the first time they’ve ever checked the history and open recalls on a prospective used car purchase. (Face-palm).
While it might feel like hand-holding to the more experienced car-buyer, it truly will help out inexperienced or first-time car buyers who might be too nervous — or careless — to remember every step in the process.
What About the Dealership?
What’s this going to change for dealerships? Probably not a whole lot. Dealerships aren’t out to get you like they used to, and most of them are straight-shooters nowadays. But for those who are still trying to hide negative experiences in a vehicle’s history, along with any recall information, this new FTC-backed amendment should help keep them in line as well.
The amended rule should go into effect sometime early next year, considering that it’s granting car dealerships one year to use their remaining stock of Buyers Guides after the new rule is enacted.