Laws offer little protection for car buyers - News, Weather & Sports

Laws offer little protection for car buyers

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Lemon laws aren't the only reason it may be safer to buy a used car in Indiana than Kentucky. Lemon laws aren't the only reason it may be safer to buy a used car in Indiana than Kentucky.
Carl Kaelin Carl Kaelin
Allison Martin Allison Martin

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Next to a house it's one of the biggest investments many people make. Buying a car can leave you angry and in the hole if you make a bad choice. So it's important to know what the law can, and can't do, to protect you. And there are some big differences in Kentucky and Indiana you need to know about.

What happens when the search for a car turns into a train wreck? Carl Kaelin knows all too well. He just bought a 1994 Ford Ranger pickup truck from a used car dealer on Dixie Highway  he claims, had problems from the start.

"Got off the lot the AC didn't work on the car," Kaelin said. "Then front drivers rode locked up."

"So I had to go through two weeks of bickering for them to get the parts and then I had to fix it myself," he said.

Stories like that one aren't hard to find around Kentucky and southern Indiana. So what can you do about it after you've made the purchase? Kentucky Attorney General's spokesperson Allison Martin said the answer is, nothing. There is no lemon law in Kentucky for used cars.

"And that's why it's so important to do your homework before you ever get to the dealership," Martin said.

Martin said there is a lemon law in Kentucky for new cars. It allows you to sue the manufacturer if you think there's something wrong but you have to give the manufacturer a chance to fix whatever issues you have, first.

Across the river in Indiana, the process is the same with one major difference. Indiana's lemon law covers used cars that are less than 18 months old and have less than 18,000 miles.

Lemon laws aren't the only reason it may be safer to buy a used car in Indiana than Kentucky. The Hoosier state is also protecting against something else you may not even know is an issue.

In 2012 the Indiana legislature passed a law requiring written disclosure of any used car that is a "methamphetamine vehicle" much like they're supposed to in the case of hail or flood damage.

It's another layer of protection car buyers in Kentucky don't have.

"Obviously the legislature in Kentucky has only decided to have the lemon law cover new car purchases in Kentucky," Martin said. "Would we like to see that extended to some other things? Sure and it would be something we'd like to discuss. But as of right now that's the law and that's the law we have to enforce."

Martin suggests taking the following steps to avoid trouble before buying a new or used car.

1. Don't go by yourself, take someone with you.

2. Ask a lot of questions.

3. Get the car checked out by an independent mechanic.

4. Get a Carfax or vehicle history report.

5. Don't buy on the spot. Take your time and make an informed decision.

Martin said used car buyers are typically offered an extended warrantee by dealers. But Martin said all used car warrantee's are not the same.

"There are a lot of those extended warrantee programs that have consumer complaints," Martin said. "You bought it, and they won't cover what your repair is."

Martin said it's important to find out what company the warranty program is through, then research the company and call the Better Business Bureau to check its history. You can also call your local Attorney General's office to see if they've had any complaints.

Martin said if you don't like the warrantee the dealer is offering, you can always go out and find one on your own after you've purchased your vehicle.

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