Caveat Emptor

Pity the poor used Chrysler dealer trying to peddle some pre-bankruptcy bargain with this sticker:

“WARNING    This vehicle was produced prior to the date when the Chrysler bankruptcy was approved. If you buy this vehicle and are injured or killed, even if your injuries were caused by the manufacturer, you or your survivors will not be able to recover your losses by taking action against the manufacturer. If your passengers are injured or killed, even if their injuries were caused by the manufacturer, they and their survivors will not be able to recover their losses by taking action against the manufacturer.”

Nothing says “Buy me” like the smell of newly cleaned upholstery and the thought of imminent death and paralysis-by-car. But the good folks at Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (along with Consumer Action, Center for Auto Safety, Center for Justice & Democracy, and National Consumers League) argue that’s exactly what consumers should bear in mind if they take a chance on a pre-bankruptcy Chrysler. The California-based advocacy group is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to require labels informing buyers of a used Chrysler’s unique liabilities granted by the bankruptcy and sale to Fiat.

CARS are asking for the designation under the FTC’s 1985 Used Car Rule, which was promulgated to prevent used car dealers from misrepresenting or failing to mention to buyers important facts about war anty coverage, via a Buyer’s Guide sticker displayed on the vehicle.

“Prospective purchasers of those Chrysler vehicles are likely to be unaware which vehicles were produced prior to the bankruptcy proceeding. This is particularly true since two vehicles that are the same make and model, and are identical in appearance and design, but differ solely by a single day in their date of manufacture, will afford their purchasers entirely different levels of protection.”

Chrysler buyers risk losing millions in medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses, CARS says, and the bankruptcy proceedings can not possibly provide adequate notice to those who may be harm by a defect on some later date.

Those victims certainly weren’t the concern of Chrysler, Fiat, the White House’s Auto Task Force or the bankruptcy judge who hung them out to dry. Let’s see if the FTC cares.