The federal government and individual states regulate used car sales. Regulations such as the Lemon Law or Used Car Rule protect consumers from fraudulent salesman and unforeseen vehicle problems.
Used Car Rule
Governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Used Car Rule requires car dealers to comply or face legal repercussions. All states excluding Maine and Wisconsin must follow the Used Car Rule. Dealers must provide warranty information, what is covered under the warranty, vehicle history and disclosure of problems unless sold "as is."
Lemon Laws vary by state. Lemon Laws protect buyers from losing their money after purchasing a defective car which they were not aware of at the time of purchase. Make sure the car dealer records the correct odometer reading, time and date at the time of purchase. Typically, a buyer's vehicle payment must be refunded if the car suffers unrepairable damage, unrelated to driver caused problems, within a given time frame or mileage range from the time of purchase.
Each state has its own set of rules and regulations regarding used car sales. Refer to the local Department of Motor Vehicles for any questions. For example, California car dealers must provide a two-day sale contract cancellation option for all used car sales.