Used car buyers in Bucks County will enjoy an added layer of protection starting next year under the county’s new “Lemon Law” ordinance.
The Bucks County Commissioners on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve Ordinance #168 which, when it goes into effect in January, will require car dealers to provide warranties on used car purchases, make repairs and ensure the used cars they sell can pass inspection.
State law provides similar protections for buyers who purchase new cars, but does not extend them to used purchases.
“Most of our auto dealers by far are honest and do a good job,” said Michael Bannon, director of the county Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures Department. “But I’m afraid that there’s a few businesses out there that have given the industry a black eye, and that’s what we’re looking to address right now.”
The ordinance will also expand local enforcement capabilities, allowing the county Department of Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures to crack down on dealers who make misrepresentations about or fail to disclose issues with the used cars they sell.
Warranty requirements vary based on a vehicle’s mileage. Some vehicles, such as those determined by an insurance company to be a “total loss” or vehicles sold “as-is” are exempt from the requirement. Buyers may waive the warranty requirement during the negotiation process if they so choose.
Bannon’s department, together with county Solicitor Joe Khan and the Law Department, modeled the ordinance after New Jersey’s “Lemon Law.”
Khan noted that in the six months between the ordinance’s passage and implementation, Consumer Protection plans to conduct outreach aimed at ensuring affected businesses understand the new policies.
“We have found that model of giving people time and notice works out really well, because our goal here really is to encourage everyone to do the right thing and follow best practices,” Khan said.
The ordinance proposal garnered words of support from both the state Office of Attorney General, as well as Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub.
“To me this makes a lot of sense,” Weintraub said. “This really strengthens the safety net for the consumer.”
To learn more about Ordinance #168, watch Consumer Protection’s livestreamed presentation in support of the measure.
Click here to read the text of the ordinance.
Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, jtomalley@buckscounty