Lemon Law Attorney in California

Does California Lemon Law Apply to Used Car Purchases?

Does California Lemon Law Apply to Used Car Purchases?

Purchasing a used car can often be a smart financial move. However, sometimes you don’t know what you are getting into when you decide to buy used. If you recently bought a used vehicle and are having problems with it, you might be wondering if you can rely on California lemon law to protect yourself. Unfortunately, there’s no blanket answer because it depends on the specifics of your situation and vehicle. It’s best to discuss your situation with an experienced Orange County lemon law attorney who can tell you what protections you might have and help you exercise your rights.

How Do You Know If Your Used Car Is a “Lemon”?

A vehicle must meet certain criteria to fit the legal definition of a “lemon” and qualify for protection under the law. Your used vehicle might be a lemon if it exhibits one or more of the following applies to your situation:

  • The problem remains even after a reasonable number of repair attempts
  • The vehicle consistently fails in performance and quality
  • There is a substantial defect that impacts its safety
  • The used vehicle spent an unreasonable amount of time in the repair shop (more than 30 days, which doesn’t have to be consecutive days)

However, even if you suspect your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, you are required to allow the manufacturer or dealer to repair it within a reasonable number of repair attempts. After they have the opportunity to repair it, it’s likely a lemon vehicle if it’s been in the repair shop for 30 days or more or hasn’t been repaired during multiple repair attempts.

It’s essential to note that if you caused the problem with your used vehicle, or if you used the car in a way that was not intended, you may not have protections under California’s lemon laws. In addition, if you caused damage to your car, the manufacturer might not be liable.

Do Lemon Laws Cover Your Used Car?

California’s lemon laws protect someone who bought a used car under warranty. The vehicle must be defective or irreparable after a reasonable number of attempts to be covered. The purchaser of the used car must have purchased it from a dealer or retailer, not a private party individual. If they bought the car from an individual or a dealer or retailer without a warranty, it wouldn’t be covered by lemon laws.

For the warranty requirement, the vehicle can be either under the manufacturer’s original warranty or under warranty by the dealer.

What Happens if Your Used Car is Covered by Lemon Laws?

If your used car is covered under California lemon laws, the manufacturer or dealer is legally obligated to repurchase or repair the vehicle if:

  • The vehicle has a significant defect
  • The vehicle can’t be repaired within a reasonable number of repair attempts

In addition to repurchasing or repairing your vehicle, the manufacturer or dealer is required to cover your attorney fees and costs. In some situations, they are also liable for civil penalties if the manufacturer deliberately attempts to evade the lemon law and not repurchase or repair your vehicle.

What to Do if You Think Your Used Vehicle is a Lemon

Suppose you think your used vehicle might qualify as a lemon. In that case, it’s imperative that you take specific steps to protect your rights. Remember that you must advocate for yourself because your vehicle’s manufacturer or used car dealer doesn’t work for you. If you don’t pursue a warranty claim, it saves them time and money, so they prefer that you don’t.

  • First, bring your vehicle to the place where you purchased it. Make them aware of the problems you are having and give them the opportunity to repair them. Ensure you tell them all the problems you have experienced with your vehicle and that they accurately reflect on the work order.
  • Keep good records. Retain your warranty document and your car’s buyer’s guide in a safe place, along with all the service orders for your vehicle. Be sure to take detailed notes when you speak with your vehicle’s dealer or manufacturer, including whom you talked to and what they told you.
  • Be aware of the time. Take your vehicle in for repairs as soon as possible so that it’s done before your warranty expires. You should also be aware that you must bring any court claim under the California lemon laws for used cars within four years of being aware of your vehicle’s defect.
  • Contact a well-versed Seal Beach lemon law attorney for help. California’s lemon laws can be confusing, and many vehicle dealers and manufacturers will fight not to pay claims. So you need a knowledgeable advocate on your side to secure the best resolution possible in your claim.

Contact the Law Office of Michael S. Humphries at 562-493-0289 or online to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your used car situation. We aren’t afraid to protect your rights and stand up to car dealerships and auto manufacturers.

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