Can I sue if I bought a car as is?
- May 30, 2022
- Categories: Lemon Law
A vehicle being sold “as is” typically means that it is sold without a warranty, and any future problems with the car or truck are not the responsibility of the dealership or private seller. So, as a purchaser, you are assuming the financial risk should any mechanical, electrical, or structural problems with the vehicle become apparent after the sale is completed.
There are sometimes good reasons to buy a vehicle “as is” – they are often less expensive than certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles of similar make and model. If you know the seller personally (a neighbor, family member or friend) or if it’s a one-owner vehicle that has been well cared for, an as-is purchase might be the right choice for you.
Problems arise, though, if you discover that the used car you purchased “as is” turns out to be a lemon. In these circumstances, you have less legal protection than if you had bought a used car with a warranty.
But don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in this position. The skilled and experienced California lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima may be able to help. Depending on the specific circumstances in your case, you might still have the right to sue if you bought a car “as is.” Call us for an assessment of your case at 888-407-2955.
Can I sue if someone sold me a bad car?
If a dealership sold you a bad or defective car, California law provides protections in some circumstances. There are times when dealerships unknowingly sell a defective or unsafe vehicle; but if they do, they are often subject to California’s lemon law, and the manufacturer may be forced to buy back or replace the car, truck, or SUV. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act provides protection and firm legal rights for new and used car purchasers. The law states that the defect must affect the USE, VALUE or SAFETY of the vehicle to qualify for lemon law remedies. You must also make a reasonable number of attempts to get the defect repaired by a dealership before filing a legal claim.
What happens to dealers who knowingly sell defective vehicles?
If a dealership knowingly sells you a defective vehicle, that’s another matter entirely. In that instance, the dealer is committing fraud by misrepresenting the quality of the product he or she is selling. Auto dealer fraud exists, and there are state and federal laws that make such misrepresentation illegal. For example, let’s say a dealership sells you a “like new” used car that has only 15,000 miles on the odometer. But it turns out that the dealer rolled back the odometer from 50,000 to 15,000 and misrepresented the extent of the vehicle’s use — that is fraud. In a similar example, if a dealer tells you that a used vehicle has a clean history and has never been damaged in an accident, only for you to later discover that the vehicle has major structural damage because of a past collision – this is misrepresentation. The California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have put regulations in place to protect consumers from dealer fraud and misrepresentation.
Examples of dealer misrepresentation can include:
- Deceptive pricing
- Odometer tampering
- Bait-and-switch advertising
- Failure to disclose past vehicle damage or abuse
- Yo-yo financing and down-payment tricks.
Does the California lemon law apply to cars sold “as is”?
The California lemon law does apply to used cars, though only under certain circumstances. Generally, you must have one of three types of used car warranties to qualify for lemon law protection. They include:
- Transferred Manufacturer’s New Car Warranty
- Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
- Lemon Law Buyback Warranty.
A used car purchased “as is” may not have one of these three warranties, but don’t give up easily if you have a lemon. The skilled and experienced used car lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima may be able to find a way for your vehicle to qualify for lemon law protection. It’s worth a phone call to find out. Call us at 888-407-2955 and we can assess your case.
You can learn more about the ins and outs of California lemon law by reading:
What is the statute of limitations on a California lemon law claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim in California is four (4) years from the date a consumer knew or should have known that the vehicle was a lemon. This does not mean that if you have had your vehicle for more than 4 years, you cannot bring a lemon law claim. Our attorneys at Neale & Fhima have successfully “lemoned” vehicles that are over 10 years old. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, you’ll want to start the buyback process as soon as possible. After the statute of limitations has passed, a judge may dismiss your case, but don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have questions about the statute of limitations. Collect copies of your repair bills, work orders, and receipts and call a skilled lemon law lawyer today.
What remedies are available under the lemon law?
If you are successful in proving your used car lemon law claim, you can choose the remedy that fits you best. They include:
Option A: Repurchase
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and issue you a refund of the purchase price (reduced by the value of your use of the vehicle prior to the first repair attempt). If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the payments and down payment, and pay off the loan. You will also receive a refund of registration fees, taxes, etc.
Option B: Replacement
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and provide you with a different one. It must be an identical or substantially similar vehicle. The manufacturer will pay the registration and taxes on the replacement vehicle, but you will not receive a refund of fees or finance charges paid on the original vehicle. This option requires the consent of both parties.
In some circumstances, we may be able to negotiate an additional option called a “cash and keep.” This would allow you to retain possession of the vehicle and receive a cash payment to compensate for the defect.
Contact Neale & Fhima today
If you’ve purchased a used car and discovered that it has chronic defects, this can be very frustrating. Rather than giving up in despair, call the skilled California lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima to find out more about your legal rights. We will assess your situation, explain the law, and explain your options. To find out more, call us for a free consultation at 888-407-2955.