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Used vehicles are not covered by the Texas Lemon Law, but used car purchases are governed by the Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act. For example, it is illegal under the Act for a car dealer to entice customers to buy cars by falsely advertising that the dealer is going out of business. It also is illegal for the dealer to make false or misleading statements regarding the reasons for a price reduction. A dealer also may not try to get a consumer to buy a vehicle by failing to disclose information about the car which, if known, would make the consumer unwilling to buy the car. For example, any car that was returned to a manufacturer after a hearing under the Lemon Law must include a notice providing this information to any potential buyer.
The only warranties that accompany a used vehicle are those expressly provided by a dealer or an unexpired manufacturer's warranty. Therefore, it is extremely important for a consumer to thoroughly inspect a used automobile before purchase, and discuss whether the car is covered by any warranty. Federal law requires that all used cars sold through dealers must indicate on the buyer's guide or window sticker whether the car is being sold with or without a warranty. The buyer's guide should clearly state whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" (without any warranty) or "warranty" (with the specific provisions of the warranty listed on the window sticker). Consumers should closely inspect the tires, suspension, engine, drive train, steering, brakes, and interior. In fact, it is probably wise to have a mechanic conduct the inspection.
Because used vehicles are "used," the number of miles a vehicle has been driven is important. Vehicles with lower mileage typically are more valuable than those with higher mileage. Federal and state laws prohibit a seller from rolling back or changing the number of miles on an odometer. Under Texas law, the seller of a used vehicle is required to state on the title assignment the total number of miles the vehicle has traveled. A consumer should get a copy of the odometer statement before signing a contract and if the odometer reading seems suspect, he or she should check the odometer statement that the current owner received when the vehicle was purchased.
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