Buying a used car is always a trickier prospect than buying new.
New cars come with more built-in protections (express warranties) and Texas laws regarding new cars are stricter.
But, while it’s always riskier to buy a used vehicle, especially in Texas which has minimal laws protecting used car buyers, there are some ways to get around Texas’s “as is” used car policy if you’ve gotten a real clunker.
Texas Used Car Warranty Laws
It is not required for used cars to come with warranties in Texas.
Any used car may be sold ‘as is’, whether it’s sold by a private seller or a dealership.
Some used cars may come with warranties as incentives, but these warranties are offered on an individual basis by sellers and not state-mandated.
The exception to this is if a vehicle is still under its original manufacturer’s express warranty.
Most express warranties stay with the car, not the buyer, which means if you buy a lightly-used vehicle still under its original warranty, that warranty typically remains in effect.
Texas Used Car Return Laws
There is no right to return a used car in Texas.
Even if a used vehicle comes with a dealer warranty and the dealer cannot fix a problem covered under that warranty, the dealer is under no obligation to take the car back.
However, if the dealer does fail to comply with their warranty, you can seek justice under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (as explained below).
Used Car Warranty & Car Return General FAQ
To further your understanding of used car warranties and return rules here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Do used cars come with warranties?
Many do, but not all.
And in most states, used cars have no requirement to be warrantied.
Used cars may be sold either with a warranty attached or “as is.”
Those with warranties may also have very limited warranties, with either a short time/mileage window or only a few parts of the car that are covered.
All this said, dealerships often offer warranties as incentives to buy their pre-owned vehicles.
And, if they don’t, you can certainly negotiate one into your purchase contract.
Does an express manufacturer’s car warranty transfer to a new owner?
Generally speaking, yes, an express manufacturer’s warranty transfers to a car’s new owner as long as the warranty is still in effect (though, the rules or coverage period of the warranty may change).
But this isn’t always the case.
If a vehicle’s warranty does not transfer, this should be clearly spelled out in the vehicle’s paperwork, and the seller is also required to tell you.
Do extended vehicle service plans count as warranties?
Yes, in most cases, service contracts are considered a form of warranty under the law.
However, they’re unlikely to do you much good if real issues arise.
Service contracts typically don’t provide much more than general maintenance, so if your car breaks down it is unlikely the dealer will have a duty to repair it.
However, if they refuse to do your oil change, rotate your tires, or anything else actually included in your service plan, you can certainly seek justice under warranty laws.
Is there a federal law that deals with used car warranties?
Yes. In a way.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to all warranties, regardless of whether those warranties are attached to new or used products.
The law is not specific to vehicles, but can be used to enforce any warranty on a used vehicle.
What’s in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (as it applies to vehicles)?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act includes several key points that pertain to vehicle warranties.
These points are:
- No product is required to have a warranty (and many used cars don’t).
- The terms of a warranty must be fully disclosed in simple, understandable language.
- Any ambiguity in the language of a warranty is held against the warrantor (in this case, the manufacturer or dealer).
- Warrantors cannot require only branded parts be used with their products for a warranty to remain valid (Ford can’t require only Ford parts be used on your vehicle).
- Service contracts must follow these same rules.
Basically, if you feel like you’ve been duped by a warranty, you may have a case under the Magnuson-Moss Act.
And if your used vehicle does come with a warranty, the dealer/manufacturer must repair any defect for free and to satisfactory condition, or you can seek justice under your local (or the federal) warranty law.
What about the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off rule?
The FTC’s 3-day cooling-off rule or “right to cancel” does not apply to vehicles.
For more on the FTC’s rule and how (and why) it doesn’t apply to vehicle sales, see Does The FTC’s 3-Day Right To Cancel Apply To Car Purchases?