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Can a dealer sell a lemon?

Can a dealer sell a lemon?

It’s one thing if you know you’re buying a former lemon that has been repaired by the manufacturer and is in tip-top condition. It’s another matter altogether if a car dealer sells you a lemon by failing to disclose accidents or damages that were done to the vehicle. That’s why it’s always a good idea to review a vehicle’s CarFax report based on its unique VIN number. If you’re wondering “Can a dealership sell you a lemon?”, the answer is often complex.

Sometimes, a dealer unknowingly sells a lemon, in which case, there are legal steps you can take. At other times, a dealer unethically tries to pull the wool over a consumer’s eyes by selling a lemon without disclosing the vehicle’s defective status. Consider the following guidelines:

  • A dealer is allowed sell a “lemon law buyback vehicle” as long as the vehicle has been fixed by the manufacturer and clearly displays a “Lemon Law Buyback” sticker on the window or door. (A lemon law buyback vehicle is one that was previously defective but has been repurchased by the manufacturer and repaired.) These vehicles are required to include a Lemon Law Buyback Warranty when they are resold, which covers the vehicle for 12,000 miles.
  • Sometimes dealers unknowingly sell a defective vehicle, in which case you likely have legal protection under California Lemon Law.
  • A dealer cannot knowingly sell a defective vehicle while falsely stating that the vehicle is new and in good condition.  That’s a crime.

What Qualifies as a Lemon?

A vehicle in California is usually considered a lemon if a manufacturer is unable to repair the car, SUV, truck, or another type of vehicle within a reasonable number of attempts. The defect must also substantially impair the vehicle’s …

  • use,
  • value, or
  • safety.

There are a wide variety of defects that can impact a vehicle’s use, value or safety, but there is no requirement that the defect actually endangers your safety.

Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Electrical issues
  • Poor acceleration
  • Steering issues
  • Radio and navigation problems
  • Battery dies regularly
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Braking problems (not just squeaking)
  • Engine issues
  • Noise complaints
  • Transmission issues.

These are by no means the only defects that could give rise to a lemon law claim. These are only examples. Any defect that impacts the use, value or safety of a car, truck, SUV, or other vehicle type may qualify for a lemon law claim.

What California Statutes Apply to Defective Vehicles?

California has a very consumer-friendly lemon law compared to other states, and the statutes ensure that car buyers are protected. Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective vehicle that meets the legal definition of a lemon, you are entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s expense.

Neale & Fhima Law Firm aggressively represents thousands of clients in lemon law cases, and we have a 99% success rate! Our lemon law lawyers are tough on manufacturers and dealerships who sell defective vehicles to consumers.

Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

Can a dealership sell an unsafe vehicle?

No, a dealership cannot knowingly sell an unsafe vehicle. It may be difficult to prove that a dealership knew they were selling an unsafe vehicle, but it is not legal for them to do so. Sometimes, a dealership may unknowingly sell a defective or unsafe car or SUV, but if they do, they are subject to California’s Lemon Law, and the manufacturer may be forced to buy back or replace the vehicle.  A dealership can sell a lemon law buyback vehicle (a formerly defective vehicle), but the car, SUV, or truck must be clearly labeled with a “Lemon Law Buyback” sticker that is prominently displayed. Of course, the defect must have been repaired and corrected. The car or truck cannot be unsafe.

Check to See If Your Vehicle Qualifies

At Neale & Fhima, we go toe-to-toe with the big automakers to enforce the lemon law rights of our clients across the state of California. The state’s lemon law applies to new and used cars, though you must have a certain type of vehicle warranty to be protected. These include:

  1. New Car Warranty
  2. Transferred New Car Warranty
  3. Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
  4. Lemon Law Buyback Warranty.

If you’re unsure whether your used vehicle has the appropriate warranty to qualify for a claim, the best thing to do is to talk to a used car lemon law attorney.  Call us for a free consultation at 877-308-2128.

Statute of Limitations on Lemon Law Claims

The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law is four years, either from the date of the vehicle’s purchase or when the consumer knew or should have known that their vehicle was a “lemon.” That’s why it’s important to file a claim as soon as you discover your vehicle’s defects.  If you have purchased or leased a lemon, start collecting copies of your repair bills and call a Neale & Fhima lemon law attorney immediately.

Lemon Law Facts

Here’s a summary of lemon law facts to keep in mind:

  • A successful lemon law claim entitles car and truck owners/lessees to their choice of remedy: a replacement vehicle; a refund (buyback); or, in some cases, a cash settlement.
  • The lemon law applies to vehicles that are purchased, leased, new or used.
  • To qualify for lemon law protections, a new vehicle’s problem must be covered by a factory warranty at the time of the first repair attempt.  In the case of used cars, the vehicle must have a transferred new car warranty, lemon law buyback warranty, or a certified pre-owned warranty to qualify for lemon law protection.
  • The lemon law also covers campers, trailers, boats, ATVs, and other recreational vehicles. (These vehicles fall within the law’s general provisions that apply to consumer goods.)  The lemon law does not apply to off-road vehicles.

Call Neale & Fhima Today

If you believe you’ve purchased a lemon, or if a dealership unethically misled you about the quality of the vehicle you purchased, you may have a lemon law claim.  The best way to find out is to talk to a California lemon law attorney at Neale & Fhima.  We have an outstanding record of success with these cases, and we will fight hard to get the justice you deserve. Call us today at 877-308-2128 for a free consultation.

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