Used Car Buyers Beware!

Consumer Protection If you are contemplating buying a used car know this - YOU ARE IN CONTROL!

Too many used car dealerships that cater to consumers with bad or no credit are quick to rip off the unsuspecting buyer. Fortunately, there a number of consumer protection laws, including the Lemon Laws, in Massachusetts that tip the negotiating scales in favor of the buyer. Unfortunately, not enough car-buyers are aware of these laws and used car dealerships take full advantage of this ignorance. The best method to counter the predatory tactics of a used car salesman is to prove that you are a smart and savvy consumer. You can prove this by understanding both your legal rights and the dealer's legal obligations.

Walk into the used car dealership with the knowledge below and you will be in control:

1. A used car dealer cannot legally sell you a car that has an inspection sticker. WHY?

The Massachusetts Lemon Aid Law allows you to void or cancel a motor vehicle contract or sale if your vehicle fails to pass inspection within seven days from the date of sale AND if the estimated costs of repairs of emissions or safety related defects exceed 10% of the purchase price.

Used car dealers will often try to sell you a car with a valid inspection sticker and tell you not to worry about getting an inspection until the current sticker expires. The dealer will make it sound like they are "hooking you up" with a safe and suitable car that has passed inspection. What they are really doing is avoiding any exposure under the Lemon Aid law by ensuring that you do not get an inspection within the required seven days after purchase. (see #4 below for more information).

2. Your used car comes with a very powerful "Implied Warranty of Merchantability"

The implied warranty of merchantability requires the dealer to sell you a car that is "suitable for the ordinary uses for which goods of that kind are sold." This means that the dealer has to sell you a car that is suitable for driving. If the car turns out to not be suitable for driving, i.e. it breaks down or fails an inspection within a "reasonable amount of time" after you bought it, you can return the car to the dealer for a full reimbursement. If the dealer refuses, they can be held liable for engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices and may be ordered to pay triple the amount of damages. This implied warranty prevents a dealer from selling a car "as is." Ask your dealer about the implied warranty of merchantability and he will know that he is dealing with a smart consumer.

3. Dealerships are required to extend a signed, dated, correct copy of an express warranty at the time of purchase.

The Massachusetts Used Car Lemon Law requires that the dealer provide an express warranty at no extra cost to you. Pay close attention to how many miles the car has as this will directly impact the length of the express warranty. If the car has more than 125,000 miles at the time of purchase, the dealer is not required to extend an express warranty. If the dealer refuses to provide an express warranty and instead tells you to purchase an extended warranty - he is violating the law and you can let him know that!

4. Dealerships are required to display "REFUND RIGHTS" on the front left window of a car for sale.

Ask your salesman where the "Notice of Refund Rights" is if you do not see a notice posted in the car's window. This notice is legally required to state that you may receive a full refund if you return the car within fourteen days of purchase if the car failed a safety or emissions inspection within seven days of purchase. If you do not see this notice, or if the dealer fails to provide you this notice in writing upon request, WALK AWAY! This is not a trustworthy dealer.

These tips are just a sample of the rights and laws that govern used car transactions. You can prevent being "ripped off" and you can take control of the negotiations simply by showing the car salesman that you are aware of your legal rights and the dealer's legal obligations.

There are many legal remedies available to you if you have been "ripped off" by a used car salesman because your car failed to function properly shortly after you bought it. However, there are very strict time requirements within which an aggrieved car-buyer has to act so do not delay! Contact a Boston consumer protection attorney now if you purchased a used car that turned out to be a hunk of junk!

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