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The FTC’s Used Car Rule says that dealers have to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they have for sale, and give it to buyers after the sale. The FTC recently checked out how dealers are following that rule in 20 cities, visiting 94 dealerships, and inspecting more than 2325 vehicles.

The Guide, which was updated in 2016, tells you about the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the big problems you should look out for. It says whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty, and what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty. And it tells you to get all promises in writing.

Why check things out now? Well, dealers were required to start using the new version of the Guide on January 28, 2018. And here’s what we found. Of the more than 2325 vehicles inspected, almost half had the revised Buyers Guide. Dealers not displaying the revised Guide received letters warning them to bring their dealerships into compliance.

If you’re buying a used car, it pays to be prepared.

  • Get a vehicle history report before you buy. It can tell you a lot about a used car: ownership history, whether the car was in any accidents, its repair records, and whether it ever was declared as salvage.
  • Consider getting an independent inspection by a mechanic you hire — even if the car has been inspected by the dealer.
  • Figure out how much to pay for a used car. There are commercial services with information about the value and pricing of used vehicles.
  • Look for the Buyers Guide. If the dealer doesn’t display the new Buyers Guide, you might want to shop elsewhere. And please report it to the FTC.

For more information, visit


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July 12, 2018
Is this Guide available in Spanish? If no, why not?
FTC Staff
July 12, 2018

In reply to by megan

Please look in this blog post and follow the link to the Buyers Guide.  There is a sentence at the bottom of the English Buyers Guide, written in Spanish. It says: Si el concesionario gestiona la venta en español, pídale una copia de la Guía del Comprador en español. That means " If the dealer manages the sale in Spanish, ask for a copy of the Buyer's Guide in Spanish."

July 12, 2018
Buying a used car is still a gamble
July 12, 2018
excellent advice
July 23, 2018
Used car sales demands are going to go UP as soon as the new tariffs go into effect; that means they will become about 25% or more expensive to buy! And new cars, their price updates will be even worse if I'm reading it all correctly. ANYTHING to do with a car, parts, probably illegally service charges, and a LOT more! So BEWARE: This is a whole new pie for the scam & sham artists out there selling cars or after-purchase agreements! Same with car insurance: I've seen nothing yet saying that Insurance companies et al are going to pay these new costs if there is any way to get you to believe you're "coverage is fine". So "buyer beware"needs to be a little higher in vigilance for the foreseeable future.
July 25, 2018
When I bought the used car in dealership , they told me to buy gap insurance for 800$ and I agreed . After 3 months I had accident and my car was totaled loss , and I wanted to use gap insurance but I saw that in dealership they sold me 2 years warranty for 1360 $ . I understood that when I have signed the papers they just give me warranty to sign not the gap, and they know that you want to sign fast and take the car and because you will not read what you sign. So who can protect me in this situation , they just lie you , they talk about gap insurance but they sold you warranty?
FTC Staff
July 25, 2018

In reply to by Petoarm1981

You can report a problem you have with a business to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. You could also talk to someone in your state Attorney General's office. Find the Attorney General for your state on this list.

Need help
October 14, 2018
My husband and I were shown a used car that was just recently traded in. We were told it still needed to be serviced but the only way they could push it to the front of the line was if we signed some papers. We were told it would be ready to test drive by Tuesday but it wasn't ready til Thursday. They also made us leave my potential trade in so they could inspect it. We went in Friday and asked what happens if we don't like it. That's when we were told the sale was final. We never saw the buyers guide in the vehicle as it was just traded in. We were never given the buyers guide if there was one. We had no idea that the papers they had us sign were for the sale. I was under the impression we have to be given all of this information if there is a sale in their mind. After all was said and done they wouldnt give me my car that i had left as a potential trade in.
January 14, 2019
If you buy a car from a private party gave money but received no title and were taking It to the mechanic and it just stopped working on the way, can you get your money back?
October 19, 2019

In reply to by Gvan1065

I bought a car from a guy and by the time I got home I put it in four wheel drive and it wouldn't go back he told me about the abs but the parking and break light was on to I only drove a half hour home Jrmarine