Consumer groups seek warnings on used Chrysler vehicles

Consumer Reports News: July 10, 2009 03:32 PM

A group of five consumer groups is calling for window stickers warning potential buyers of Chrysler vehicles built before the carmaker’s May 30th bankruptcy. The sticker would point out that the company will not be liable if passengers are injured or killed in an accident caused by safety or manufacturing defects. Consumer Action, Center for Auto Safety, Center for Justice and Democracy, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and National Consumers League sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission petitioning for this disclosure.

Under the bankruptcy agreement, the new Chrysler was absolved of any responsibility for vehicles built before the government-aided restructuring. An estimated 30 million such vehicles are still on the road. The consumer groups claim thousands of injuries will likely be caused by defective models. Chrysler opposes the stickers.

The new Chrysler will back vehicles built after Fiat took a significant stake in the company. The consumer groups argue that without the stickers, two identical models could be sitting next to one another on a dealer lot, one with consumer protection and one without.

The petition is being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission. FTC action would require changes in the Used Car Rule of 1984. As the consumer groups explained: “The Used Car Rule is intended primarily to prevent oral misrepresentations and unfair omissions of material facts by used car dealers concerning warranty coverage. To accomplish that goal, the Rule provides a uniform method for disclosing warranty information on a window sticker called the ‘Buyers Guide’ that dealers are required to display on used cars.”

An agency spokesperson said the rule-making process could take more than a year.

Jim Travers


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