How California Lemon Law Applies to Used Car Purchases

One common misconception about buybacks and lemon law is that those who own more expensive cars may have greater rights. Many small car owners believe it is not worth the effort to file an insurance claim for their cars’ ongoing and persistent problems. Many people believe that you get what you pay for when it comes to car problems or small cars. California law favors them, regardless of the vehicle’s size or cost.

When you lease or buy a motor vehicle, you can expect safe and reliable transportation. Many people discover that their car, truck, or SUV is not up to standard or has major defects. A lot of people have the right to a refund, replacement vehicle, or settlement under state and federal lemon laws. This page addresses some of the most frequently asked questions by consumers who leased or purchased a car that was a lemon.

California Lemon Law on Used Vehicles

Many of our readers have told us that dealers or manufacturers tried to convince them that the lemon law only covers new vehicles. Lemon laws in many states actually cover used car purchases and leasing. Even in states that only cover new vehicles, federal lemon laws offer protection to used car buyers, sellers, and lessees.

California’s civil code was updated in 2013. It now requires “buy here, pay here” dealers to provide a 30-day warranty or 1,000 miles of driving, whichever comes first. The dealer must provide a refund to the owner of the car if it is unable to fix car problems within the first 1,000 miles or 30 days. The warranty covers all the essential parts of the car such as brakes and steering.

The Lemon Laws applicable to used cars may not be as exact as those that apply to new vehicles. The CA lemon Law is a good option. It covers used, “preowned”, and refurbished vehicles provided they have an active warranty from the manufacturer or dealer.

 This article of California’s Lemon Laws for Used Cars can help you determine whether your vehicle is covered, and how to proceed if so.

What are Lemon Laws?

Vehicle manufacturers must offer a replacement vehicle or a full refund to lemon sellers and leasers. Each state has its own lemon laws. They define what constitutes a “lemon” based on how many unsuccessful repairs were made and the time it took to repair them. Lemon law is not something consumers have to litigate.

Before the enactment of lemon laws, consumers were not able to access them. Due to limited bargaining power dealers and manufacturers were unable to respond quickly when there was a breach of warranty. The result was that consumers were forced to pay for their repairs and accept less favorable terms when they traded-in.

What is the California Lemon Law and how does it work?

The California Lemon Law generally covers both new and used vehicles that have serious defects/malfunctions, for a specified time period or mileage. If your vehicle is not repaired by the manufacturer or authorized dealer, you will likely be eligible to receive a replacement or complete refund.

California Lemon Law provides protection for consumers who lease or purchase used cars. California Lemon Law protects you, provided that the vehicle you bought came with:

  • A portion of the manufacturer’s warranty remains in force
  • Written warranty from dealer
  • The vehicle is covered by a certified pre-owned vehicle warranty (CPO). This means the vehicle was covered under an additional warranty through a CPO program.

You may be eligible to receive compensation if your vehicle experiences repeated problems within its warranty period. California Lemon Law offers compensation in the form of cash damages or a complete refund of your purchase price.

Lemon Law Qualifying

California law amended in 2013 to require that all “buy here, buy here” used car dealers offer a minimum of a 30-day or 1,000-mile warranty covering the essential components. Dealers who don’t offer “buy here, sell here” warranties will usually offer a better warranty, particularly if the vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned. You are entitled to compensation under Lemon Law if you purchase a used vehicle.

  • The car was bought from a retailer, not an individual. Private used car sales are not covered by the law.
  • The car comes with an activate warranty regardless of whether it’s the original manufacturer warranty or an extended warranty from the retailer.
  • A significant defect can be found in pre-owned vehicles.
  • The shop spent a lot time repairing this pre-owned vehicle.
  • Despite multiple attempts to repair the problem, the car still isn’t fixed.

Coverage for different types of used vehicles

The CA Lemon Law protects car owners who purchased vehicles for their personal, family, or domestic purposes. Commercially owned vehicles are covered by the Law, provided they have a total gross weight of fewer than 10,000 pounds and that there are 5 or fewer vehicles registered under their business name. Vehicles include cars, trucks, RV trailers, and SUVs, SUVs, and watercraft.

Used vehicles must still be covered by an active warranty in order to qualify for law protection. This warranty does not have to be the original manufacturer’s warranty. A written warranty from a dealer of used cars will suffice to cover a vehicle that has been purchased. Lemon vehicles that were repurchased by the manufacturer as buybacks may be covered under the CA Lemon Laws.

The Used Car I Bought Has a Problem, What Are My Lemon Law Rights?

A used car can offer many benefits: It is cheaper, it has lower insurance rates, and you save on depreciation. What if your used car stops working after only a few weeks? Used cars are more likely to have problems.

Most used car owners feel helpless after discovering a problem with their vehicle within a few days. It can be a relief for used car owners to know their rights. Each state has its own lemon laws to protect used car owners. California’s used car lemon law requires that car dealers fix any used car problems within the first few days. If you purchase a lemon-colored used car, you can get a replacement or a refund provided it meets these requirements listed above

How to Qualify for California Lemon Law used Car

The Used Vehicle Lemon Law states that the manufacturer or dealers must repair the vehicle, regardless of whether it is a used Car, Truck, or RV. within an affordable number of repair efforts or replace or buy back the Vehicle.

1. Keep records, Also Document all breakdown and repair

lemon laws require your vehicle manufacturer or dealer to repair your vehicle and, if they cannot do so after a reasonable number of attempts. If four or more repair attempts have been made on a particular part of the car or truck and it has not been taken care of. (very same issue continues to reoccur). Then the reasonableness standard has actually been satisfied. The dealer or manufacture should immediately refund or replace your car.

It is important to keep detailed records of what problems were encountered, how many times they were serviced, and the results of each service. it is also a good idea to create a list of all defects the car has experienced. This is to ensure the dealer is informed about the problems.

2. Read and understand how lemon law works

First you need to understand that the lemon law protects you in most scenario If your vehicle is under an active warranty. Also a reasonable number of repair most be attempted. Read full califonia Lemon law.

3. Get all your Car Warranty and Necessary Documents

To be eligible for protection under the law, used cars or vehicles must have an active warranty. However, this warranty does not necessarily have to be the original manufacturer’s warranty. lemon law makes it mandatory to present a written guarantee handed over to you from the car dealer. Lemon cars that were redeemed by the manufacturer as buybacks and marketed with new reveal written guarantees covering the defect may also be covered under the CA Lemon Rules. If you cant provide the necessary document, your chance to get due compensation is very limited. This is known as a failure to disclose.

4. Send a First and Second Letter to the Dealer or Manufacturer

With an attachment of the documents listed above, send a second letter if the first is not returned to the manufacturer. This is in order to document your claim under California’s lemon law for used cars. Send certified mail (return receipt necessary) to the address printed in your car’s document or manual. Keep a copy of this letter for your records. You will need to be cautious when preparing this letter as every word is likely to have implications.

5. If you are not refunded, contact a highly experienced attorney

Although Lemon law disputes should be resolved by consumers calling the dealership and writing letters. But in case the car dealer or manufacturer fails to return your calls and mails then it’s time to involve a Lemon lawyer and provide him/her the record book, a copy of the letters you mailed, car warranty, and other requested documents.

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