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Attorney general issues consumer guide for Illinoisans purchasing used vehicles

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a new law designed to better protect Illinois consumers buying used cars is the genesis behind a new guide from her office.

madigan lisaMadigan issued a free Consumer Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle and Consumer Checklist to inform consumers about these new protections in Illinois and provide tips and advice. The guide is now available on her website.

The law, which took effect July 1, requires used car dealers to provide a limited powertrain warranty to used car buyers for the first 15 days or 500 miles, whichever comes first. Before the law took effect, used car dealers could sell any used vehicle “as-is” without a warranty.

Under the new law, the coverage does not apply to vehicles sold with more than 150,000 miles on the odometer or with a flood title or rebuilt title. The coverage also does not apply to vehicles that are utilized off-road or for racing or towing following the sale; vehicles that have been misused, neglected or have not had regular maintenance; or instances in which the dealer has informed the consumer of a very specific problem with the car at the time of sale.

Madigan’s Consumer Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle and a Consumer Checklist include a description of the new limited warranty coverage and tips for purchasing a used car. Madigan’s office also has a guide for car dealerships to help them understand the new law.

“Buying a car is a significant investment, and consumers should do their research and know their rights before they make any purchase,” Madigan said. “My new Consumer Guide and Checklist can help you navigate buying a used car and ensure you take advantage of the protections in the law if you encounter a problem.”

Madigan’s Consumer Guide urges consumers to take several steps before purchasing a used vehicle:

• Determine the fair market value of the vehicle you intend to purchase. Visit sites such as, or to determine a fair purchase price for the vehicle you are interested in before visiting the dealership.

• Obtain your credit report and shop around for financing. Obtaining your credit report and shopping for financing before you visit the dealership provides you with knowledge and bargaining power.

• Obtain reports on the title and vehicle history. You can get title and vehicle history reports from Carfax, AutoCheck or the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to learn more about the specific vehicle you are seeking to purchase.

• Arrange a pre-purchase inspection. Have the vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic before you buy.

• Understand “as-is” sales and the 15-day/500-mile limited powertrain warranty. It is important to determine whether you are purchasing a vehicle “as-is” or with a warranty. In Illinois, some used vehicles are being sold with a mandated 15-day/500-mile powertrain warranty that will also be posted on the FTC Used Car Buyers Guide. This warranty has several restrictions outlined more fully in the guide.

• Determine the fair market value of your trade-in. If you have a vehicle to trade in, visit sites such as, or to determine a fair value for your trade-in before heading to a dealership. Also consider getting several purchase quotes for your trade-in before settling on a fair market price.

• Be cautious before agreeing to buy add-on products and extended service contracts. Dealerships often sell automobile-related add-on products, such as extended service contracts, gap insurance, credit life and disability insurance, and window etching. Consumers do not need to purchase these products, and you should research whether these products are valuable to the purchase. It is important to read the terms and conditions of these add-on products before you buy them.

• Remember: There is no right to cancel a contract when purchasing a car unless the vehicle was purchased at your home. Because there is generally no right of cancellation to protect you if you change your mind, do your homework before buying a used vehicle.

• Some dealers or lenders require installation of starter interrupter or GPS devices to track and shut down your vehicle if you fall behind on payments. Make sure you understand and feel comfortable with the terms, including the data being collected, what the dealer can do with the device(s), and the possible consequences and fees before you agree to buy a vehicle with these devices.

For more information or to obtain copies of the new resources, visit Madigan’s website or contact her office’s Consumer Fraud Hotlines: (800) 386-5438 (Chicago area), (800) 243-0618 (Springfield area), and (800) 243-0607 (Carbondale area).

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