Starting on July 1, 2019, it will be legal in West Virginia for car dealers to sell used vehicles without any warranty whatsoever for the first time. Before this change to the law, all vehicles sold by a dealer came with at least an implied warranty that they were “merchantable,” meaning that they were fit to drive on the roads and would pass inspection for a reasonable period of time. But, starting on July 1, 2019, certain vehicles may be sold by dealers, even if they are not operable, have major defects, or are rebuilt wrecks. They can even be sold “as is” if they cannot pass state inspection. Beware! If you purchase an “as is” vehicle, the dealer will have no obligation to repair any problems with the vehicle.
The new law does contain a few protections that you should know about. First, not all used vehicles may be sold “as is.” A used motor vehicle may be sold “as is” if it is sold for less than $4,000.00; OR has more than 100,000 miles; OR if it is seven years or older. Used motor vehicles that have been “totaled” or are inoperable and custom vehicles for racing or show purposes can also be sold “as is” under the new provisions. Because of these changes to the law, dealers can sell any of these used vehicles without any warranties or requirements to make repairs, so make sure that you ask the dealer about the warranties before you agree to buy a used vehicle.
Second, if a vehicle is sold “as is,” then the dealer has to provide a notice on the front page of sales contract, and it must describe in writing any defects that it knows about or should know about after an inspection. The law also requires that a Carfax or similar report be provided to the consumer. However, such reports are often incomplete and do not contain information about previous mechanical problems or wrecks.
The most important thing to know is that if you purchase an “as is” vehicle, you have three business days to return the vehicle and get your money back if it has a “significant mechanical issue” that existed at the time of the sale.
Our advice is that you avoid purchasing any vehicle from a dealer that is sold “as is.” If you are willing to take a chance on an “as is” car, most consumers would be better off buying it from an individual, since it will likely be cheaper. Remember, if you purchase a used vehicle “as is” from a dealer, there is no guarantee that the dealer has checked it to make sure that it is in good working condition, it will pass inspection, and is safe to drive. However, the dealer will still mark up the vehicle to make a profit and also try to make more money from you with financing and extra products.
If you do purchase a vehicle sold “as is,” immediately after purchase, take it to a certified mechanic for a thorough inspection. If a serious mechanical issue is found, you may return the vehicle to the dealer within three days. After three days, you will have little recourse, even if the vehicle is defective, unless you can prove that the dealer lied to you about the vehicle. For this reason, you should make sure that anything the dealer tells you about the vehicle is in writing.