I am contacted frequently by people who have bought used cars that turn out to have more or different problems than the seller disclosed. Often, I can help them, sometimes I can’t. But anyone considering buying a used car in West Virginia (or who has bought one recently) needs to know about a law that went into effect on July 1, 2019.
West Virginia Code § 46A-6-107a, which is located within the Consumer Credit and Protection Act, is entitled “Used motor vehicles sold ‘as-is’” and specifies when a used vehicle can be sold as-is, i.e., without any implied warranty. If a used vehicle is: inoperable and a total loss; or has been custom-built or modified for show purposes or racing; or any one of the following: sold for less than $4,000; driven more than 100,000 miles at the time sold; or seven years of age or older as calculated from January 1 of the designated model year of the vehicle, then the vehicle may be sold “as-is.”
This is the disclaimer that must appear on any vehicle offered for sale as-is after July 1, 2019:
THIS VEHICLE IS SOLD “AS IS”. THIS MEANS THAT YOU WILL LOSE YOUR IMPLIED WARRANTIES. YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR ANY REPAIRS NEEDED AFTER THE SALE. IF WE HAVE MADE ANY PROMISES TO YOU, THE LAW SAYS WE MUST KEEP OUR PROMISES EVEN IF WE SELL “AS IS”. TO PROTECT YOURSELF, ASK US TO PUT ALL PROMISES IN WRITING. YOU MAY HAVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL THIS SALE BY THE END OF THE DEALER’S THIRD BUSINESS DAY FOLLOWING THE SALE IF THE VEHICLE HAS SIGNIFICANT MECHANICAL ISSUE THAT CAN BE REASONABLY EXPECTED TO HAVE EXISTED AT THE TIME OF THE SALE.
This statute specifically provides that it does not waive any express warranties, oral or written, upon which the buyer relied in buying the vehicle. An express warranty may provide protection for some period of time or number of miles, or may apply to certain parts or systems of the vehicle. Make sure you get any promises or commitments from the dealer in writing. If the dealer won't put the promises or commitments in writing, walk away. You'll have problems with the car and the dealer.
Here’s a news article from last month that discusses some of the risks for the buyer of a used car sold as-is. The president of the West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association was quoted in the article and says a couple of interesting things. First, he acknowledges that some consumers may be hurt by the "as-is" law, although he thinks the three-day return period may protect those buyers. Then, he says if there are any problems, they're more likely to occur at "small mom-and-pop used car dealers," because the dealerships he represents can't afford the damage to their reputations by selling used cars as-is. If a dealer is afraid of the damage to its reputation because it sells used cars as-is, that should tell you everything you need to know. If you have any choice at all, don't buy a used car as-is.
If you have bought a new or used car, which is not performing properly, and you wonder about your rights or if you have any questions about any consumer-related issue, please call me at (304) 769-6058, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the contact form on this site. I serve clients in Morgantown, Wheeling, Martinsburg, and all over West Virginia. I look forward to hearing from you.