What Is An Implied Warranty?

Almost every used car you buy from a dealership is covered by a warranty, even if the dealer says it isn’t or you don’t have a document to prove it. When trouble begins, the law steps in and enforces an implied warranty to protect you.

According to the Federal Trade Commission the implied warranty is an unwritten, unspoken contract guaranteeing that the product you buy does exactly what it’s supposed to do. In this case, coverage applies to the basic functions that make the car run.

Benefits and terms vary in every state, but all new and used cars bought in a car dealership are covered. The only exception is when you agree to buy a car “as is,” which the BuyingAdvice team doesn’t recommend. By signing an “as is” clause, you waive your rights and are left unprotected. If you’re okay with this, your sales contract or buyer’s guide must clearly indicate it.

Keep in mind that some states don’t allow “as is” sales at all. Implied warranties are always applicable if you’re in Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia or the District of Columbia.

To enforce an implied warranty, the buyer must prove that the defect in question existed at the time of the sale. Because this may be difficult to determine, complaints are reviewed individually by state authorities. To help your case, have a mechanic certify that the defect existed prior to your purchase and evidence supporting this affirmation. Keep receipts and a detailed record of all problems and dealer’s responses.

If you think an implied warranty applies to your situation, follow these steps:

  • Try to work it out with the dealer.
  • Contact your local consumer protection office, for example the Better Business Bureau
  • Seek alternative dispute resolution programs. They serve as a neutral party in the conflict and can help reach a binding agreement outside of court.
  • Request intervention of a small claims court. You can file and present the case yourself, so attorney fees aren’t an issue. Keep in mind that small claims courts can only see cases of up to $3,000.
  • If all else fails, federal law might apply to your case, but for this you’ll need an attorney.

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