CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It remains to be seen how the state’s new ‘as is’ law will impact the automobile market in the Mountain State. The opinions vary widely.
Consumer attorney Dave McMahon said he’s waged a 30-year fight against the proposal only to lose during his year’s legislative session when lawmakers passed the bill. It became law July 1.
“For the low-income consumer in particular, we say that it is now better to shop online and buy from an individual rather than go to a used car lot,” he said.
The law allows a vehicle to sold ‘as is’ if it meets one of three criteria. It has more than 100,000 miles, is more than seven years old or costs less than $4,000. The law requires the dealer to do inspections. The buyer has three days to return the vehicle.
McMahon said the law gives the upper hand to the used vehicle dealer.
“The advantage is the car lot owner can turn just a blind eye to problems. It’s now hard to prove that they were guilty of fraud or anything,” he said.
The West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association, which represents dealers of new vehicles, lobbied in favor of the bill. President Jared Wyrick said the law will allow his members to sell more used cars. Wyrick said there were 80,000 used vehicles dumped back into West Virginia last year from states with ‘as is’ laws.
“A lot of people would go across the line, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia area, buy a car and bring it back and title it in West Virginia. This really makes us more competitive with our surrounding states,” Wyrick said.
Dealers have also had to wholesale a lot of used cars because they couldn’t be given an implied warranty which was required before the ‘as is’ provision went into effect. Wyrick said he believes the new law will reduce the prices of good, reliable used vehicles, a benefit for consumers.
“I think this bill helps them more than anything,” he said. “It allows them to buy cheaper, reliable transportation where as before if you wanted to buy a car you had to have an applied warranty on it and you were going to have to spend $8,000 to $9,000 on the low end just to get a car,” he said.
Charleston consumer attorney Kristina Whiteaker believes the law weakens what’s been in place for years.
“It used to be that consumers would want to buy a used car from a dealer, because that was the best place to have a variety of cars to choose from and you would have the peace of mind from knowing that used cars sold by dealers had to be in good working order, ” Whiteaker said in a news release. “With the Internet and the changes to the law, that is no longer true.”
Wyrick said his members aren’t going to sell a bunch of bad cars. He said that customer is too important.
“My guys depend on repeat customers. So if they sale a car ‘as is’ they are going to depend on that customer to come back and buy. Competition is hard is this market,” Wyrick said.
McMahon said consumers need to make sure they have that vehicle inspected within three days by a mechanic and if there’s a problem take it back where you got it.