Can a Dealership Sell You a Lemon?

Categories: Lemon Law

Can a Dealer Sell a Lemon?

Have you ever thought about what you would do if a car dealer sold you a lemon or bad vehicle? It is not uncommon for a car dealership to sell a lemon vehicle by failing to disclose accidents or damages that were done to the vehicle.

If you’re wondering “can a dealership sell you a lemon?”, the answer is complex:

  • If you buy a used car or truck “as is,” then that means you have little to no legal recourse if the vehicle turns out to be defective. A dealership can legally sell an imperfect vehicle “as is.” This means a buyer knowingly takes on the risk for the vehicle’s condition.
  • A dealership can sell a “lemon law buyback vehicle” as long as the vehicle has been repaired by the manufacturer and clearly displays a “Lemon Law Buyback” sticker on the door. (A lemon law buyback vehicle is one that was defective, has been repurchased by the manufacturer from a dissatisfied customer, and then was fixed.) These vehicles should be accompanied by a Lemon Law Buyback Warranty when a new owner buys them, which covers the vehicle for 12,000 miles.
  • A dealership cannot knowingly sell a defective lemon while falsely stating that the vehicle is new/in good condition.
  • Sometimes dealerships unknowingly sell a lemon vehicle, but in these cases, you may have legal recourse under California Lemon Law.

A car in California is usually considered a lemon if manufacturer’s dealer is unable to repair the car within a reasonable number of attempts and the defect is one that substantially impairs the vehicle’s use value or safety. This can mean:

  1. A minimum of two attempts were made to repair a warranty issue that could cause serious injury or death.
  2. A minimum of three attempts were made to repair a warranty issue that substantially impairs the use or value or the car.

If you feel like you’ve purchased a lemon, then you may have legal recourse in California. Neale & Fhima Law Firm has aggressively represented thousands of clients in lemon law claims, and we have a 99% success rate. Our lemon law attorneys are tough on manufacturers and dealerships who sell defective vehicles to consumers. To find out whether we can help you, call us for a free initial consultation at 888-407-2955.

What can you do if a car dealership sells you a bad car?

California’s Lemon Law May Provide a Legal Solution

Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective vehicle, you may be legally entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s cost. At Neale & Fhima, we fight the big auto manufacturers to enforce the lemon law rights of people living throughout the state. California’s lemon law applies to both new and used cars, though you must have a certain type of vehicle warranty to be protected. These include:

  • New Car Warranty
  • Transferred New Car Warranty
  • Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
  • Lemon Law Buyback Warranty.

Be suspicious of an undisclosed vehicle history

If a car is a lemon and the dealership took it back from a previous owner, this fact must be disclosed to you if you decide to buy the vehicle. Unfortunately, not every dealership is honest about the history of such vehicles. If you suspect that your vehicle has undisclosed problems, a good way to check is to get the car’s CARFAX report. This report will indicate whether the dealership sold you a vehicle that was a lemon, was in accidents or had other damages, such as from a flood.

Consider this example: Say that you bought a used car and you almost got into a T-bone car accident because the brakes did not work right. You take the car back to the dealership to have it repaired. The dealership says that the issue is fixed, but you still have trouble stopping the car as quickly as it should. You get the CARFAX report, and you discover that the car was in several accidents before because of brakes, and the frame may have been damaged. Vehicles such as the one in this example are usually considered lemons. You may be able to sue the dealership for selling you a used lemon if they did not disclose the vehicle history.

What Kind of Defects Affect Vehicle Safety?

There are a wide variety of defects that can impact a vehicle’s use, value or safety, but there is no requirement under the law that the defect actually endangers you. So, if the car has a defect with its automatic seats, the fact that this impairs your ability to see the road may be enough to establish a claim. Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Check-engine lights
  • AC does not work
  • Steering issues
  • Braking problems
  • Faulty windshield wipers
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Won’t start
  • Poor acceleration
  • Transmission is not smooth during starting and stopping
  • Battery dies regularly.

These are by no means the only defects that could underpin a lemon law claim. They are only examples. Any defect that impacts the use, value or safety of a vehicle may qualify for a lemon law claim.

Can you sue a dealer for selling you a bad car?

Steps to Take If the Dealership Sold You a Defective Car

Yes, you can sue a dealership or a manufacturer if they sold or leased you a new or used lemon if you meet the criteria under the California Lemon Law.

The first step is to determine that your warranty is still in effect; remember, service contracts and “extended warranties” do not count. Then, check your paperwork to determine whether you have made at least two to three repair attempts depending on the type of defect your vehicle is suffering from. If so, talk to an attorney today to help you file the claim.

Under the state law, your vehicle may be replaced or repurchased if it is a lemon.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Lemon Law Claim?

Yes. The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law is four years, but don’t wait that long. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, start collecting copies of your repair bills and call a Neale & Fhima lemon law attorney immediately.

More Facts About Lemon Law Claims

Here are some facts that every car owner in California should know:

  • The lemon law applies to vehicles that are purchased or leased.
  • A successful lemon law claim entitles vehicle owners/lessees to their choice of remedy: a replacement vehicle; a refund (buyback); or, in some cases, a cash settlement.
  • To qualify for lemon law protection, the vehicle’s problem must be covered by a valid factory warranty at the time of the first repair attempt.
  • The lemon law covers boats, ATVs, camper trailers, and other recreational vehicles. (These vehicles fall within the law’s general provisions that apply to consumer goods.)

Have an Unreliable Vehicle? Talk to A Lemon Law Attorney Now

When you buy a new car, you expect it to be free of defects. It should be totally reliable. But this is not always the case. Some new vehicles have serious reliability problems that affect their use, value or safety, or all three. Even if you buy a used car with a warranty from a dealership, you can be unhappily surprised to find it is defective. If you have been taking your recently purchased car or truck in for regular repairs, you may have a valid lemon law claim. Talk to the lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima today to find out about your legal rights. The first phone call is free, so call us today at 888-407-2955.