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Most D.C. used car dealers lack required guides

(Published June 19, 2000)

A recent random inspection of 32 used car dealerships in the District of Columbia found two-thirds of those visited to be "significantly out of compliance" with consumer protection laws, federal and local officials said.

The inspections were conducted jointly by the Federal Trade Commission, the D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel and the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The unannounced inspections found 22 of the 32 dealerships visited were not in full compliance with the Federal Trade Commissionís "used car rule." The rule requires used car dealers to post a one-page "buyers guide" in each car that ensures consumers get information in writing about any warranty protection they have if there is a problem with the car after they buy it.

The buyers guide states whether a vehicle comes with a warranty and, if so, whether it is a full or limited warranty; which systems are covered by the warranty and the duration of the warranty period; if it is a limited warranty, what percentage of the cost for covered parts and labor the dealer will pay for; or whether the car is sold with no written warranty but with implied warranties.

District of Columbia law does not allow car dealers to sell vehicles without an implied warranty, according to the D.C. Corporation Counselís Office.

The buyers guide becomes a part of the sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions in the contract, officials said.

The Federal Trade Commission offers consumers several free publications with tips for buying used cars online at The information also is available by visiting the FTCís Consumer Response Center in Room 130 at Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator