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Bought a Used Car from Dealer with Problems

Bought a Used Car from Dealer with Problems? You Have Certain Rights!


Buying a used vehicle “as-is” from a car dealership has a number of advantages. Some advantages include cheaper initial costs, lower insurance premiums, and lower depreciation rates. However, many drivers are stumped when their recently purchased used car keeps having problems. But don’t worry! In this article, we’ll walk you through your rights if you’ve bought a used car from a dealer with problems.

If you’ve purchased a defective car from a dealer in California please contact Cali Lemon Lawyers for a free used car lemon law case evaluation.

Purchasing a Vehicle “As-is” Provides You Certain Rights

purchasing the car as is

The truth is that used cars are far more likely to have issues than new cars, and car dealers often tell complainants that they have no legal rights because they chose to buy the car “as-is. Many used car owners are relieved to find that they have rights if their car is a lemon.

Car sales personnel often trick people into making a car purchase, even if the vehicle has a defective part. This is a form of manipulation, and the lemon law can protect the buyer in this case.

Used Car Lemon Laws Differ from One State to Another

Used car lemon laws exist in every state, offering security to used car drivers. The lemon law in California mandates auto dealers to address faults with used cars during the first few weeks of ownership.

If you are in this situation, it is essential to know your legal rights. Read on to learn more about the used car lemon law and what rights you have when buying a used car.

Laws Governing Used Cars Aren’t Always Specific

When it comes to used car sales, some precise lemon law requirements that apply to new cars are left unclear. Therefore, lemon law cases that involve secondhand vehicles can be more complex, and customers may have a tougher time pursuing them.

Suppose a manufacturer cannot repair a vehicle after a realistic number of attempts. In that case, the manufacturer must either give the customer a replacement or refund the sales price. This sales price must account for the use of the car before the defect was discovered.

The Formula for this Calculation Isn’t Always Clear

The law establishes a formula for determining this amount in the event of new vehicle acquisitions. However, this is not the case when purchasing a secondhand car, which is why it is always advisable to contact a lemon law attorney to help ensure that your legal rights are protected during this process.

Does the Used Car You Purchased from a Car Dealer Qualify as a Lemon in California?

does your used car qualify as a lemon

As mentioned before, California lemon law governs and protections used car buyers’ rights. However, these laws also protect car dealers from unfair claims made on used cars. The used car lemon law demands that certain requirements be met if the secondhand car is to qualify as a lemon.

Lemon Law Requirements

If you bought a used car that fits the following criteria, you are eligible for a refund or an exchange, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs:

  • A dealer or¬†manufacturer’s¬†warranty is included with the vehicle
  • The vehicles purchased have major¬†flaws
  • You purchased the car from a dealer, and it was not a private sale
  • The secondhand vehicle has been in for an unreasonable amount of time for repairs
  • After a 2 or more repairs, the fault cannot be corrected

Buy Here, Pay Here

California’s civil law was revised in 2013, requiring “buy here, pay here” sellers to provide a dealer¬†warranty for the first 1,000 miles driven or for the first¬†30 days, depending on which¬†comes first. Should¬†the car¬†dealer be¬†unable to remedy motor¬†vehicle problems within the first 30 days or¬†1,000 miles, the car owner is entitled to a reimbursement.

The Types of Vehicles that Qualify as a Lemon

types of vehicles that qualify as lemon

The¬†owners of secondhand vehicles¬†in California who acquired their cars¬†predominantly¬†for “private, family, or home” uses are legally protected from defective manufacturing under the California Lemon Law.

This law also applies to used cars bought for commercial reasons, provided that the total mass of the vehicle is less than 10,000 pounds and the company has no more than five vehicles licensed in its name.

SUVs, Cars, RV trailers, and all types of watercraft are all considered “vehicles” protected by this law.

It is important to remember that a vehicle must have a warranty to qualify, and this doesn’t need to be a manufacturer’s warranty but is also covered by a dealer warranty.

How Many Repair Attempts Must Be Made Before a Customer Can Expect a Refund or Replacement?

The manufacturer should repair the vehicle within a fair number of attempts. Failure to repair the used vehicle warrants a replacement or a buyback under the lemon law. However, you may be wondering how many attempts are reasonable.

Major Faults

The answer lies in the type and nature of the problem. Manufacturers typically only get two opportunities to resolve the issue for a major fault that impacts the vehicle’s safety.

This would be the case if the problem were with the braking system, power steering, gearbox, motor, or any other critical system. Suppose the manufacturer is unable to repair the vehicle in one or two attempts. In that case, it is required to issue a refund.

Persistent Defects

Suppose a persistent flaw in the car poses a risk of death or serious physical injury to its occupants. In that case, two or more attempts at repairing the flaw are considered acceptable before reimbursement is necessary.

Should more than four attempts have been made without any resolution, compensation is necessary. Additionally, the criteria have been reached if the vehicle has been in the workshop for repair for 30 days or more and the issue has not been rectified.

Most Used Cars Bought from Car Dealers Come with an Express Warranty or Power Train Warranty

Understanding the types of warranties that dealers often issue can help you understand your rights. You can find the details of your warranties by checking the buyer’s guide given to you when you make the purchase.

The sections below discuss two of the most common warranties: express and powertrain warranties.

Express Warranty

If a secondhand vehicle or truck is sold to a customer with an express warranty, California’s lemon law immediately imposes an implicit warranty of merchantability.

This is a simple and basic warranty or service contract that offers the guarantee that the car can provide safe transportation.

It is essentially a promise that the dealer will conduct the necessary replacement or repairs for any defective components within an allotted period. If a used car owner experiences a problem with their vehicle within that time, they are entitled to these services.

Powertrain Warranty

powertrain warranty

Powertrain warranties are issued by manufacturers. Unlike an express warranty, which is a short-term warranty, a powertrain warranty is an extended warranty, lasting for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles in certain cases.

This warranty is essentially a promise the manufacturer makes to repair or replace the vehicle’s powertrain should it become damaged or worn and is often included in the sales contract.

Other Warranties

Most dealers also provide the 30-day or 1,000-mile warranties described above. Even the most basic and smallest warranties are usually sufficient to enforce an implied contract on car deals.

As is customary, dealer warranties typically cover specific parts of a vehicle. If one of these parts has significant flaws, the dealer is required to repair it within a reasonable amount of time or offer you a refund.

“As-is” Buyer Disclosures May Not Let Dealers Off the Hook

Suppose a dealer sells a secondhand vehicle to a customer with any form of express warranty. In that case, the only opportunity for the dealer to avoid the implicit warranty of merchantability is to plainly ‚Äď and correctly ‚Äď identify the vehicle as an “as-is” car while it is on exhibit in the dealership.

According to California lemon law, all other methods of removing the implied warranty of merchantability are unsuccessful.

Many dealers, for example, require customers to sign “as-is” contracts when purchasing motor vehicles in order to deceive them into believing their vehicles were bought as they were.

However, signing such an¬†agreement means nothing if the car was not correctly marked as an¬†“as is” car.

the buyer disclosure

Labeling Requirements

In order for a dealer to forgo any future claims, it must mark the vehicle clearly as an “as-is” purchase so that anyone buying a used car knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into before the car purchase.

Here are some of the labeling requirements that dealers are required to follow when marking a vehicle in the dealership:

  • The vehicle must be marked as an “as-is” or “with faults” vehicle
  • Buyers are responsible for repairing or replacing defective parts
  • A buyer enters into the sale at his or her own risk

Because the Department of Consumer Affairs takes labeling so seriously, dealers who fail to properly mark cars as “with faults,” are liable for the repair and replacement of any defective parts, subject to the warranty.

Tips for Those Who Have Purchased a Lemon

If you have purchased a lemon, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Maintain records of your sales agreement, warranties, defects, and the details of the attempts made to fix those defects
  • Keep a record of the claim made to the manufacturer
  • Avoid arbitration, which is a private way to solve the matter that favors businesses over consumers
  • Enlist the help of an experienced lemon law attorney to help you fight for your rights

Need Help Understanding the Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights in California?

Whether you purchase a used car as a cash sale or as a vehicle credit applicant, you should know your rights. A knowledgeable and experienced lemon law attorney can help you better understand your legal rights when it comes to used cars.

An attorney can also help you understand your options if your recently purchased used car turns out to be a genuine nightmare and issues begin to surface days or weeks after the sale.

If your secondhand vehicle is still covered by a warranty and has defects, take action to preserve your legal rights by contacting the Cali Lemon Lawyers by Prestige Legal Solutions, P.C. today!

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