The great news about California Lemon Law is that it applies to used cars as well as new cars!

However, not all used cars are covered.  Generally, for a used car lemon law case to be successful, you need to have one of three types of warranties for used cars.  If you’re unsure if your used car qualifies, talk to a used car lemon law attorney in California.  A lawyer at Neale & Fhima would be glad to help.  Here are the three types of warranties:

1. Transferred New Car Warranty

New cars all come with a warranty from the manufacturer. When title changes hands during the warranty period, any remaining coverage transfers as well to the new owner. But be advised that some manufacturers place limits on transferability. For example, according to Kia’s warranty terms, original owners receive an extended period of powertrain coverage unavailable to subsequent owners.

2. Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Warranty

CPO warranties cover used cars that have been inspected, refurbished, and resold by the manufacturer. Warranty terms are usually less comprehensive than the original factory warranty, although buyers of CPO vehicles may be able to upgrade to similar coverage. Only authorized dealers can sell CPO vehicles, and the benefits of certification (including the warranty) are reflected in the purchase price.

3. Lemon Law Buyback Warranty

Successful lemon law claims can result in a vehicle buyback. To minimize losses in this situation, manufacturers eventually do what they should have done in the first place – repair the vehicle properly. Then, to resell it in California, the manufacturer must comply with certain requirements. Offering a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty covering the prior defect is one such requirement.

California Lemon Law for Used Cars

California has a very consumer-friendly lemon law, which is good news for beleaguered motorists who are stuck with defective vehicles – whether new or used.  The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act codifies the California Lemon Law.  This Act states in part:

Every sale of consumer goods that are sold at retail in this state by a manufacturer who has reason to know at the time of the retail sale that the goods are required for a particular purpose and that the buyer is relying on the manufacturer’s skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods shall be accompanied by such manufacturer’s implied warranty of fitness.

A sub-section called the Tanner Consumer Protection Act (California Civil Code section 1793.22) states that if you purchase a flawed car, truck or SUV, you are legally entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s expense.  Specifically, the Act states in part:

(The law) requires the manufacturer, when the process orders, under the terms of this chapter, either that the nonconforming motor vehicle be replaced if the buyer consents to this remedy or that restitution be made to the buyer, to replace the motor vehicle or make restitution.

A “lemon” is defined as a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, motorcycle, RV, travel trailer or other vehicle type that is defective. Whether the problem started immediately when you drove the vehicle off the dealership lot or it began many months or even years later, the defect is recurring, and mechanics can’t seem to fix it.

Reasonable Number of Attempts to Repair

Before being eligible to file a claim, you need to have made a “reasonable number of attempts” to get your vehicle repaired. While not always clear cut, here’s what the Tanner Act says specifically:

  • The same nonconformity results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and the nonconformity has been subject to repair two or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the nonconformity.
  • (When not likely to cause death or serious injury) The same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the nonconformity.


“Nonconformities” must also be present for a used car to be a lemon. Nonconformities are defined as any defect or malfunction that significantly restricts the …

  • safety,
  • use, or
  • value of the vehicle.

There is no requirement under the law that the defect puts your life in danger. It simply must reduce the usability or safety of the vehicle. Or it must compromise the value of the vehicle (for example, if you wanted to resell it.)

Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Poor acceleration
  • Radio and navigation problems
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Engine issues
  • Electrical issues
  • Noise complaints
  • Braking problems
  • Suspension issues
  • Battery dies regularly, or drains irregularly
  • Steering issues
  • Transmission issues

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law may be four years from the date of purchase or can be four years from the date the consumer knew the vehicle was a “lemon” or should have known it was a “lemon.” So, as soon as you start noticing the defect, take it to a mechanic and begin the repair process.  Be sure to keep all repair receipts, work orders, and spare parts so you can prove that you’ve made a reasonable number of attempts to get the defect fixed.  Then call our used car lemon law attorney in California right away.

The Best Used Car Lemon Law Lawyers in California

If you want to find out more about lemon law in California for used cars, talk to Neale & Fhima.  We stand head and shoulders above other law firms.  That’s because we have an outstanding success rate with lemon law cases!  Our attorneys are among the best and the brightest.  The team at Neale & Fhima is committed to each client’s case, and we give you our full attention.  We have received phenomenal client testimonials.

Here are a few of the reasons you should choose us:

  • Years of Experience.  Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients throughout Southern California.
  • Our Lawyers Win Cases.  Neale & Fhima enjoys a 99% success rate. We think this says a lot about the skill of our attorneys. While we cannot guarantee the outcome of any particular case, you can take comfort in knowing your claim is being handled by lemon law lawyers who have a track record of success.
  • We Value Client Relationships.  High-volume law offices tend to think of clients as nothing more than a case file. The file gets passed around until it ends up with a paralegal or junior associate who just wants to finish it and move on. Neale & Fhima is different. We enjoy getting to know our clients. It also helps us craft settlement agreements that meet their individual needs.
  • We Know the Law.  California’s lemon law is a fine example of how the state legislature can empower consumers. When it comes to clarity, however, the text of the statute leaves much to be desired. Our attorneys understand the quirks of the statute, as well as the many court opinions interpreting it. We put this knowledge to work for you.
  • No Surprises.  A handful of manufacturers control most of the U.S. auto market. We repeatedly go up against these same companies. This allows us to anticipate how they will respond to claims involving specific models and mechanical defects. Our attorneys will share these insights with you from day one, so you are never in the dark about what to expect.
  • Free Consultations.  We will always discuss your situation with you in a free initial consultation before you make any decisions about a claim.

Call a Used Car Lemon Law Attorney in California

If you bought a used car only to find out that it’s a clunker, you’re not stuck. You may have a legal remedy through the California Lemon Law. At Neale & Fhima, we’ve helped hundreds of clients get the justice they deserve. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 877-308-2128.

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.


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    At Neale & Fhima, we have extensive experience helping clients file successful Lemon Law claims and our services are covered by the manufaturer.


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