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California Used Car Lemon Law

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Used Car Lemon Laws in California

The Comprehensive Guide to Lemon Laws for Used Vehicles

The California lemon law protects consumers who purchase a used car under warranty. If you want to determine where and when protection applies, one of our experienced lemon law attorneys will gladly provide a free consultation. 

If you are the owner of a used lemon car, we’ve provided some useful information below. 

Used Car Warranties That Satisfy Lemon Law Requirements

Buying an automobile “as is” means the person takes the used vehicle without lemon law rights or a warranty. The same goes for lemon vehicles purchased from a car dealer that does not have an extended warranty agreement. The only issues that qualify under the used car lemon law are defects covered by a factory car warranty.

Three Types of Factory Warranties for Used Cars:

Transferred New Car Warranty

Manufacturers offer a warranty on all brand new cars and any remaining coverage transfers when the title changes hands during the warranty period. It is important to note that some manufacturers place limitations on the transferability of the manufacturer warranty.

An example of this is Kia’s written warranty, where an extended warranty of powertrain coverage is unavailable to subsequent owners, and only the original purchaser receives those benefits. 

Certified Pre Owned (CPO) Warranty

Used cars that have been resold, refurbished, and inspected by the manufacturer are the vehicles covered by CPO warranties. Buyers of CPO automobiles may upgrade to similar coverage even though warranty terms are generally less comprehensive than the original factory warranty. 

The purchase price reflects the benefits of the certification (including warranty) when an authorized dealer sells a CPO automobile. 

Used Car Lemon Law Buyback Warranty

A vehicle buyback can result from a successful used car lemon law claim with a serious safety defect. Manufacturers do what they should have done in the first place and repair the new car to minimize losses in this situation. The manufacturer must abide by specific requirements to resell the vehicle.

One such requirement is offering a 12 month/12,000-mile warranty covering the primary defect under an original manufacturer’s warranty.

Why Do I Need a Used Car Lemon Law Attorney in California?

The lemon law for used cars has certain nuances that can be somewhat complex, and that is one of the primary reasons to get in touch with a lemon law attorney for consumer protection. The exclusions and laws can become challenging to sort out. 

You can gain quick access to a plethora of legal experience that can simplify the process by hiring a used car lemon law attorney. Whether the car lemon laws protect your situation or not, a lemon law lawyer can walk you through a checklist to determine your circumstances and validity of your case.

Beware of California’s “At Retail” Provision

When used vehicles are sold, the balance of the factory warranty generally transfers with it. Therefore, people who purchase a used car with an unexpired warranty may think the lemon law protects them. Unfortunately, this may not be the case.

The state of California lemon legislation covers only vehicles purchased at retail locations, and the private party sale of automobiles is expressly excluded. You are not always guaranteed a valid claim by having car law protections and warranty transferability.

Contact our office for advice if you have entered into a private party sale of a used vehicle still under warranty. When executing an assignment of the car owners’ legal rights, you may still have a remedy if they are willing to cooperate. 

Additional California Used Car Lemon Law Exclusions

A prerequisite to qualify for lemon law protection is to obtain an unexpired warranty through a retail transaction. Please note that even though you may get the confirmation, it doesn’t mean that California’s lemon law covers your case.

Damages such as collisions and aftermarket modifications (that are out of the manufacturer’s control) are common excuses used to refute a claim. These companies may also argue that the prior owner did not perform scheduled maintenance required by the warranty, essentially entirely voiding the warranty. 

Recognizing the Signs of a Defective Used Car

Only a given number of miles or months that factor warranties remain in effect. This means that time sensitivity regarding motor vehicles is always a part of lemon law cases. 

Filing the claim before the deadline is not generally the issue. A four-year statute of limitation is set in California law, meaning the lemon law applies only if the basis is met. Since it must occur within the vehicle purchase warranty period, timely submissions of the automobile for repair are more likely to be an issue; when the owner takes possession, it may be close to the warranty’s expiration. 

By keeping that in mind, here are some common defects that owners of covered vehicles or a replacement vehicle should be aware of:

  • Electrical problems
  • Water seeping into interior or trunk
  • Inaccurate/broken speedometer or gauges
  • Seatbelts not working properly 
  • Malfunctioning latches, locks, or windows
  • Brake problems
  • Noisy or leaking exhaust
  • Fluid leaks (engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant)
  • Steering, suspension, or alignment issues
  • Transmission problems
  • Faulty ignition or fuel delivery system 
  • Engine overheating

Any defect that sustainability impairs a vehicle’s safety, value, or use is covered by California’s lemon law. Ask us if you are unsure whether a particular defect meets this standard.

How to Find Our if California’s Lemon Laws Apply to Your Used Car

In order to protect consumers like you, California has enacted one of the strongest lemon laws in the nation. You should take the following steps if you are a used car owner who is experiencing a problem covered by warranty:

  • Bring the vehicle to authorized dealers for it to be repaired
  • Even if the dealer can’t attempt the repairs on that day, make sure to ask if a copy of the work order on your first visit
  • If repair attempts are not to your satisfaction and completed quickly, you should contact a lemon law lawyer

You can reach out to our lemon law lawyers to help you get the compensation you deserve. We deal with lemon law cases occurring anywhere in Southern or Northern California

Why Does California Have Used Car Lemon Laws?

With enough consumers getting stuck with defective vehicles, legal recourse was needed.

In 1970, the California lemon law and legislature enacted the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This required all manufacturers to replace or repurchase faulty products after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Consumers who think they are buying a new or used car in good working order only to find out that their automobile is defective are protected by the California car lemon law. You get to select whether you want the manufacturer to repurchase or replace the sub-standard used car if it cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

Other state or federal laws may protect you even when the California lemon law protection for used cars does not apply to your circumstances. The lemon law applies to vehicles that meet minimum safety standards and prohibits deceptive warranty practices by used car dealers. 

What Kinds of Vehicle Are Covered by California’s Used Car Lemon Laws?

The lemon law covers the following new and used vehicles purchased or leased in California that include a manufacturer’s warranty:

  • Dealer owned vehicles or demonstrators
  • Vehicles leased or purchased for personal, recreational, household, or family use
  • The drivetrain, chassis, and chassis cab of a motor home
  • Many used cars bought or leased primarily for business use
  • Pick-ups, SUVs, vans, and cars

The manufacturer’s original warranty duration is the time you have to apply for a California car lemon law case. If you need more information regarding the manufacturer’s warranty, you can check out your automobile’s owner’s manual to learn more. 

Unique Circumstance for Members of the US Armed Forces

Members of the US Armed Forces, including Coast Guards, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines who are residents or stationed in the state, should know that the California law applies even if their automobile was registered or purchased outside of the region. 

Military personnel are frequently transferred to different geographical locations, so they are covered under this unique circumstance in California law. The protection of military members from defective vehicles is the primary cause of the California legislature issuing this bill. 

A California Lemon Law Attorney Can Help If a Lemon Was Not Disclosed

You might have a legal remedy under California car lemon law if you purchased a used car from a dealer who did not label it a “lemon buyback“. Lemon buyback used vehicles must be identified as such whether bought at an auction or on the lot. If you would like a free consultation, reach out to our team today.

If you have additional questions, contact us online or call (310) 627-2665 to schedule a free consultation.

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