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Know Your Consumer Rights: Automobiles

For most consumers, cars are one of life’s biggest expenses. Buying a car, maintaining it, and repairing it can involve many different costs and decisions. Under Ohio law, consumers do not have a general right to cancel the purchase of a vehicle; therefore, it is important to understand your rights before buying a car.

Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act protects consumers from deceptive and unfair practices, including those related to auto sales, repairs, warranties, and car titles. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Buying a car “as is”- If a used car is sold “as is,” it is not protected by a warranty. Buying a used car “as is” means the consumer is responsible to pay for any problems that occur after the purchase is made. Generally, consumers do not have a right to cancel or return a vehicle after they buy it, so be sure to thoroughly research your options before buying or leasing a new or used car.
  • Lemon Law – Ohio’s Lemon Law generally only applies to new vehicles, because the vehicle must be in the first 12 months or first 18,000 miles, whichever comes first, in order to potentially qualify as a lemon. A “lemon” is a new motor vehicle that has one or more problems covered by the warranty that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Under the Lemon Law, the auto manufacturer must be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem, and if the problem is not corrected, the consumer might be eligible for a refund or a replacement.
  • Title Defect Rescission Fund – Under Ohio law, licensed used motor vehicle dealers participate in a program called the Title Defect Rescission (TDR) Fund. By participating in the fund, dealers are able to sell vehicles before obtaining the titles for those vehicles. The TDR Fund was created to maintain and administer refunds to retail purchasers of motor vehicles who suffer damages from dealers who fail to provide a valid certificate of title in the purchaser’s name. Under the TDR law, a consumer has the right to cancel the transaction, and the dealer has an obligation to refund all money paid if the dealer fails to obtain a vehicle title in the consumer’s name after 40 days from the date of purchase.
  • Repairs and services – Ohio law gives consumers the right to a verbal or written estimate for motor vehicle repairs costing more than $50. Suppliers also are required to obtain the consumer’s authorization for additional repairs or services that will cost more than 10 percent of the estimate.

To report a scam or unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.OhioProtects.org or call 1-800-282-0515.

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