- January 23, 2023
- Categories: Electric Vehicles and Lemon Law
How does the lemon law work for used cars?
Did you know that California’s lemon law provides protection for consumers who purchase used cars, just as it does for new cars? It does. If you purchased a used car that turned out to have chronic electrical or mechanical flaws, you may have a legal remedy. This blog answers the question: “How does the lemon law work for used cars?” So, read on and find out more.
The California lemon law has different requirements for used cars to qualify than for new cars. However, the options for a remedy are the same if you have a successful lemon law claim.
Generally, to establish a claim under the California lemon law (also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act) in a used car transaction, you must have one of three qualifying vehicle warranties. These are:
1.Transferred New Car Warranty – All new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty. When the title (ownership) of the vehicle changes hands during the warranty period, any remaining coverage transfers, too.
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Warranty — These warranties cover used vehicles that have been inspected, restored, and resold by the manufacturer. These warranties are usually less extensive than original factory warranties, but sometimes buyers can upgrade CPO warranties for a fee. Only authorized dealers can sell CPO vehicles. So if you didn’t buy the vehicle from an authorized dealer, you won’t have a CPO warranty.
Lemon Law Buyback Warranty — Vehicles that are re-acquired by manufacturers after a successful lemon law case can sometimes be repaired and resold by the manufacturer. If so, offering a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty covering the prior defect is one of the law’s requirements.
Keep in mind that service contracts and extended warranties purchased at the time of sale do not qualify. You must have one of the three warranties listed above. Typical types of defects that can give rise to a successful lemon law claim include:
- Braking problems
- Ignition, fuel system, and exhaust problems
- Navigation technology defects
- Mechanical and electrical defects
- Steering issues
- Malfunctioning airbags
- Seat and mirror flaws that compromise safety
- Wheel and tire defects
- Heating and air conditioning defects.
These are just a few of many defects that could qualify for a lemon law remedy. The best way to find out if your vehicle’s defect qualifies is to speak to a skilled attorney who specializes in lemon law cases.
If your used car has a warranty and you’ve tried to have it repaired without success, you might be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle. We can help you file a lemon law claim.
The Duty to Repair Under the Used Car Lemon Law
Before filing a lemon law claim, the law requires that you make a reasonable number of attempts to get the defect fixed. The California lemon law gives the manufacturer and its dealers the chance to repair the problem with a used vehicle before a legal claim can be filed. While the law is somewhat vague about exactly what’s considered a “reasonable” number of repair attempts, the following guidelines can be helpful:
- One or two repair attempts for a severe defect that poses imminent danger, such as anti-lock brakes,
- Two or more attempts to repair a chronic defect that could eventually lead to serious injury if you continue to drive the car,
- At least four repair attempts to correct the same defect without success,
- The vehicle has been at the dealer for repairs for 30 or more days since you bought it.
Be sure to keep all work orders, spare parts, and payment receipts from each repair attempt so you can prove you made an earnest effort to get the vehicle fixed. If you have questions about whether you’ve made an adequate number of repair attempts to file a lemon law claim, the best thing to do is speak to an experienced lemon law attorney. Call Neale & Fhima today at 949-661-1007 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Why Choose Neale & Fhima as Your Lemon Law Lawyer
There are many attorneys in California to choose from, but we think our legal team stands head and shoulders above the rest. Attorney Aaron Fhima is a tough negotiator and has a keen legal mind when it comes to winning big cases. Our law firm has represented thousands of consumers in lemon law cases, and we have an outstanding record of success. Our satisfied clients will testify to our excellent legal services. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients throughout California. We understand the quirks in the state statutes, as well as the many court opinions interpreting the lemon law. We put that knowledge to work for you.
Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate with lemon law cases.
Does the lemon law apply to used cars with no warranty?
In most cases, no, the lemon law does not apply to used cars with no warranty. It also does not apply to private sales or “as is” sales. You must have purchased the vehicle from an authorized dealer for the lemon law to apply.
There are other instances when the lemon law does not apply, too. These include:
- Defects caused by owner neglect and abuse
- Defects arising from a vehicle collision or inclement weather
- Defects with after-market parts added after purchase
- Minor defects (like small paint scratches, etc.) that do not substantially compromise the vehicle’s USE, VALUE or SAFETY.
How long do you have to return a used car in California?
There are at least two important options you should know about that enable you to return a used car after purchase, but both have time limitations. These include:
1. A Lemon Law Buyback
A successful lemon law claim allows you to return a used vehicle to a dealership if you can prove that it is a lemon with chronic mechanical or electrical defects. Under a buyback, the manufacturer will take the defective vehicle and refund your purchase price, including down payment, sales tax, registration fees, and any monthly payments you have made to date. The manufacturer will also pay off the balance of your car loan, if applicable, by sending payment directly to the lending institution. The total amount refunded to you will be reduced by a certain percentage based on your usage (miles driven before a lemon law claim was filed).
The statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim in California is four years from the date you knew or should have known about the defect. However, if you have owned your vehicle longer than four years, Neale & Fhima may still be able to pursue a lemon law claim on your behalf. We have successfully “lemoned” vehicles as much as 10 years old.
A Two-Day Contract Cancellation Option Agreement
Consumers who purchase a used car for less than $40,000 must be offered a two-day contract cancellation option agreement at the time of sale, according to the California DMV. If you buy this agreement, you can return a used car within 48 hours of the purchase date. Otherwise, there is no “cooling off” period after the moment of sale.
Generally, these cancellation option agreements can cost:
- $75 for a vehicle costing $5,000 or less
- $150 for a vehicle costing $5,001–$10,000
- $250 for a vehicle costing $10,001–$30,000
- 1% of the purchase price for a vehicle costing $30,001–$39,999.
If you return a vehicle within the time specified, the dealership can charge a maximum restocking fee of:
- $175 for a vehicle costing $5,000 or less
- $350 for a vehicle costing $5,001–$10,000
- $500 for a vehicle costing $10,001–$39,999.
If you purchase one of these contract cancellation option agreements and decide to return the vehicle to the dealership and cancel the sale, there are certain guidelines you must follow, according to the California DMV. You must return the vehicle . . .
- with all original receipts for the sale and contract cancellation option agreement,
- to the same dealership where the vehicle was purchased, by close of business within two days or within the time frame allowed by the contract,
- In the same condition as received, except for reasonable wear and tear,
- without exceeding the miles permitted by the contract, and
- Free of all liens and encumbrances.
You don’t have to get stuck with a defective vehicle that spends more time at the repair shop than on the road. Neale & Fhima can fight for a lemon law buyback or replacement vehicle on your behalf.
Call for a Free Consultation Today
If you’ve purchased a used car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle that turns out to be a lemon, you might have a legal remedy that entitles you to a lemon law buyback or a replacement vehicle provided at the manufacturer’s expense. First, make sure you have one of the three required used car warranties. Next, make sure you’ve made reasonable attempts to have an authorized dealer repair the defect. Finally, call a skilled lemon law attorney at Neale & Fhima at 949-661-1007 to start the lemon law claim process. We have a 99% success rate in these cases, and we fight hard for our clients.
Attorney Aaron Fhima
Attorney Aaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights.