Buying a Car
For many people, buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases they will make. Because there is no three-day right to cancel a car contract, people should do their homework before buying. To facilitate this process, we have put together "The Car Handbook" with car buying guidelines and references.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the state agency that licenses and regulates motor vehicle dealerships in Minnesota. The Department of Public Safety has authority to take action against a dealership that violates the law when selling vehicles. If you experience a problem with a motor vehicle dealership, you should file a complaint with the Department of Public Safety as follows:
Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Driver and Vehicle Services Division
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 191
St. Paul, MN 55101
A car title is like a résumé of the car’s life—it indicates how many miles it may have on it and if it is a prior salvaged vehicle. When you buy or sell a vehicle, it is important to take the time to properly check and transfer title to the vehicle. Doing so upfront will save you time, money and frustration down the road. For more information on transferring title to a motor vehicle, see our flyer "Transferring Title to a Motor Vehicle."
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) administers vehicle titles and registration in Minnesota. If you have questions about transferring title to a vehicle, you should contact the Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services Division, by telephone at (651) 297-2126 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit your local deputy registrar’s office with questions about vehicle titles and registration. To find the deputy registrar’s office nearest you, visit the DPS website.
All vehicles require maintenance at one point or another. Minnesota’s Truth in Repairs Act spells out the rights and obligations of customers and repair shops for repairs costing more than $100 and less than $7,500. Knowing your rights under the Truth in Repairs Act can be helpful and save you money. A summary of the Truth in Repairs Act is available in our flyer entitled "Car Shops—Truth in Repairs." If a dispute arises between you and the repair shop over billing or the quality of repairs, it can be best to try to settle the problem with the shop’s manager or owner first. If this doesn’t work, we may be able to assist you in resolving the problem.
Minnesota’s Lemon Law
Minnesota’s Lemon Law is designed to protect people who are leasing a vehicle, or buying a new or used vehicle that is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. The Lemon Law requires a manufacturer to repair a vehicle defect according to the terms of the warranty even if the warranty is expired, so long as the defect is covered by the warranty and the defect is reported within the warranty period, or two years, whichever comes first. The law also contains a special refund and replacement provision for “lemon” vehicles, which are vehicles that have substantial defects or problems that the manufacturer is unable to repair after a reasonable number of attempts. For more information on Minnesota’s Lemon Law and its protections, see our handbook entitled "Minnesota's Car Laws: A Guide to Minnesota's Lemon Law, Used Car Warranty Law, and Truth in Repairs Act."
Minnesota’s Used Car Warranty Law
Minnesota’s Used Car Warranty Law requires used-car dealers to provide basic warranty coverage for most used cars and small trucks sold to Minnesota buyers. The law only applies to dealers—it does not apply when you buy a used car from a relative, friend or private party, or used cars sold “as is.” The terms and length of the warranty depend on the mileage of the car at the time you buy it. For more information on Minnesota’s Used Car Warranty Law and its protections, see our handbook entitled "Minnesota's Car Laws: A Guide to Minnesota's Lemon Law, Used Car Warranty Law, and Truth in Repairs Act."
Vehicle Service Contracts
While motor vehicle service contracts are intended to cover unexpected and costly repairs after your original warranty expires, they may be marketed in a deceptive manner and contain fine print that limits the coverage available. Before buying a service contract, you should fully understand the terms in the contract and who is responsible for providing the coverage, as some companies may become insolvent or fail to provide coverage for needed repairs. For more information on motor vehicle service contracts, see our flyer entitled "Motor Vehicle Service Contract Offers."
If you experience a problem with a motor vehicle service contract (e.g. car warranty), we want to hear from you. In addition, you should file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce (MNDOC), which is the state agency that is authorized to regulate motor vehicle service contract providers. You may file a complaint with the Commerce as follows:
Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 East Seventh Place, Suite 500
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Toll free: (800) 657-3602
You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is the federal agency with authority to investigate unfair and deceptive practices involving interstate commerce. You may file a complaint with the FTC as follows:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TTY: (866) 653-4261
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office offers the following materials, which are designed to provide more information to Minnesota citizens about car-related topics: