Pennsylvania governor Mark Schweiker has signed House Bill 767, a measure to protect used car buyers from purchasing ‘lemon’ buybacks without full disclosure, claiming his state is the first to take this type of action.

In the US, a persistently faulty car is usually referred to as a ‘lemon’.

The change marks the second major amendment to the Pennsylvania Lemon Law in the past year; the first being the expansion of the law to include leased cars. This new provision will take effect on December 1.

Currently, if a car is bought back by the manufacturer under the lemon law, the manufacturer must fix the car and place a sticker on the window notifying the next purchaser of its history. The manufacturer must also provide a 12-month warranty, 12,000 mile warranty for the vehicle at no charge.

Republican representative John Evans, the prime sponsor of HB 767, said the law didn’t do enough to ensure that consumers would actually receive the notice.

“What we found was that some dealers would purchase the car from the manufacturer and strip the disclosure and resell the car to an unsuspecting customer.”

With the provisions of HB 767 added, the lemon law now requires all dealers and other classified sellers to disclose the ‘lemon’ history of a used car and also to obtain a signature from the buyer or lessee before the sale/lease.

“Requiring a written disclosure from each purchaser, lessee and transferee for the life of the vehicle, ensures that all parties know exactly what they are doing before the sale is finalised,” Evans said.

If a manufacturer or dealer fails to comply with the disclosure requirements, and/or the consumer is not notified in the way specified, the dealer or seller faces civil penalties of $2,000 per car, and must offer the purchaser or lessee her choice of a refund or a comparable vehicle without charge.

As added protection, the amendment mandates that manufacturers apply for a ‘branded lemon title’ from a state government agency before the car can be resold, leased or transferred in Pennsylvania. The title branding then remains throughout the life of the vehicle and cannot be removed.