Amendment to West Virginia's Consumer Protection Statute Will Permit Sales of Certain Vehicles "As Is" and Without Implied Warranties

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Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC

Beginning next month, used car dealers in West Virginia may sell vehicles directly to consumers without a single warranty that the vehicles are operational or safe to drive. The so-called “As Is” bill – approved last March by the West Virginia Legislature – will allow merchants to make sales on an “as is” basis, effectively eliminating any implied warranties about a vehicle’s merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. More specifically, the new law permits the sale of vehicles “as is” if:

  1. The vehicle is inoperable and a total loss;
  2. The vehicle has been custom built or modified for show purposes or racing; or
  3. The vehicle is the following:
    1. Sold for less than $4,000;
    2. Driven more than 100,000 miles at the time sold; or
    3. Seven years of age or order as calculated from January 1 of the designated model year of the vehicle.

Governor Jim Justice signed the bill on March 25, 2019, amid rallies from proponents advocating the measure would make vehicles affordable for low-income residents. Although the bill’s opponents argued the law would stick unsuspecting residents with costly repairs, the “As Is” bill, which will introduce a new provision to Article 6 of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (“WVCCPA”), includes several consumer safeguards.

For example, it requires merchants who wish to sell “as is” vehicles to issue a disclaimer. The law is explicit about where the disclaimer must appear and what it must say. In addition, the merchant must disclose any defects or malfunctions to the consumer in writing and provide the consumer with “a copy of a nationally recognized vehicle history report.” Consumers dissatisfied with their purchase of an “as is” vehicle may cancel the sale by the end of the dealer’s third business day following the sale, but only if the vehicle has a significant mechanical issue or issues that can be reasonably expected to have existed at the time of the sale.

Importantly, the “As Is” law does not waive any express warranties, oral or written, provided to the consumer by the merchant.

The “As Is” law goes into effective July 1, 2019. You can read the full text of the bill here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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