FTC proposes additions to used-car window stickers
The FTC wants to encourage consumers to look up vehicle histories such as those offered by government agencies and companies such as Carfax.
WASHINGTON -- Used-car dealers would need to give customers more information on warranties under changes to window sticker rules that the Federal Trade Commission proposed today.
The proposal, which the five FTC commissioners unanimously approved, makes changes to the Buyers Guide that dealers must affix to windows of all used cars offered for sale. The FTC said it will take public comment through Feb. 11 before deciding whether to finalize the proposed changes.
The FTC last updated window sticker rules in 1995.
Some of the proposed changes would require little work by dealers. One would inform Spanish-speaking customers that the guide is available in Spanish; another would encourage customers to look up vehicle histories such as those offered by government agencies and companies such as Carfax.
Other proposed changes ask dealers to fill in more boxes on the sticker. One would tell shoppers whether a vehicle is covered by a manufacturer's warranty, a certified used-car warranty or some other warranty. Another would require dealers to include catalytic converters and airbags on a list of "vehicle systems" included.
The proposal would not require dealers to provide a copy of the warranty.
While some consumer groups wanted dealers to provide copies of all warranties to customers, industry trade groups argued that the warranties are often difficult to obtain. Regulators agreed with the dealers' argument.
"The rule does not now require dealers to disclose warranties, such as manufacturers' warranties, for which the dealers are not responsible, and the comments do not present compelling reasons to expand the rule's current scope," the proposal says.
Bailey Wood, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said the rule should give customers a clearer idea of how to get warranty information and check vehicle history reports without burdening dealers.
"We've showed them that the rule that's in place is effective at policing the market, and it is doing so," he told Automotive News.
Separately, the FTC said today that it has reached a settlement with Hope for Car Owners, a California company that allegedly defrauded car buyers by taking cash payments in exchange for refinancing that never occurred.
The settlement includes a $362,388 penalty that is being suspended because the owner of the company cannot pay it.
You can reach Gabe Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.