Automotive Tips

Is There a California Lemon Law for My Used Vehicle?

Lemon sideIn a recent article, Jiffy Lube of Southern California included information on California’s new car lemon law and how it protects new car owners who suspect they bought a lemon. Fortunately, used car owners also have rights under the new car lemon law if their vehicle was sold during the original manufacturer’s warranty period. Even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, the used vehicle owner has recourse under used car lemon laws when a vehicle is sold with a dealer or express warranty.

Because an auto dealer can sell a vehicle either “as is” or with a warranty, it’s important for prospective buyers to check for this information in the Buyer’s Guide which, according to federal law, should be visibly displayed on any used vehicle that’s for sale. If the “as is” box is checked, the used vehicle is not under dealer warranty and, under most circumstances, an owner will not be entitled to repairs should the car turn out to be a lemon. But, if the owner suspects he’s a victim of used car fraud due to a dealer misrepresentation of the vehicle’s condition at the time of sale, he may still be entitled to compensation.

If the Buyer’s guide shows that the vehicle is under a dealer’s warranty, federal law stipulates that it’s also covered by an implied warranty or “implied warranty of merchantability” which guarantees that the car provides “reliable and safe transportation” during the dealer warranty period. Since the implied warranty isn’t limited to the parts specified in the dealer warranty, a dealer would be liable for repairs to a part affecting safety or operability such as a failed engine.

If you possess a dealer warranty and believe your used car is a lemon, Jiffy Lube of Southern California suggests taking the steps listed below to protect your investment:

  • Accurate records: document all problems, repairs, and time that your vehicle has spent in the shop.
  • Timely communication: if the dealer is not cooperating with your vehicle’s repairs, contact the manufacturer about the problem(s) before your warranty expires.
  • Lemon law attorney: consult an attorney; most do not charge their clients and instead collect from the vehicle manufacturer if found liable.

Remember that it’s an excellent idea to obtain reports from Carfax or Autocheck before purchasing a used vehicle. Also, consider a vehicle safety inspection from your local Jiffy Lube to check for signs of trouble due to neglected vehicle maintenance.

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