Can a Used Car Be Considered a Lemon?

Can a Used Car Be Considered a Lemon?  

Used cars can be a great option for consumers who have limited dollars to spend and are budget conscious.  But used cars can also have mechanical and electrical problems, so a consumer should be diligent about having a mechanic check out a vehicle before purchasing.  If you bought a used, pre-owned, or certified vehicle in California that is still covered by the original factory warranty, you are probably protected by state law, because a used car can be considered a lemon under certain circumstances.  The used car lemon law offers legal protections for anyone that buys or leases a used vehicle that is covered by:

  • A transferred new car warranty
  • A Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) warranty
  • A lemon law buyback warranty.

If you purchased a used car that turns out to be a lemon, consulting with a used car lemon law attorney can help you determine if you have a legal remedy to your problem. At Neale & Fhima, our highly experienced team of lemon law attorneys can assess your claim and explain your legal options.


Used Cars Covered by California Lemon Law

Some, but not all, used cars are covered by the California lemon law.  Whether or not your used vehicle is covered will depend on the type of warranty you have, how and where you bought the vehicle, how you use the vehicle, and what caused the defect.  Following are guidelines for the types of used vehicles covered by the lemon law:

  • Used vehicles that were bought to be used mostly for personal, family and household reasons
  • Used vehicles with a total weight that is under 10,000 lbs. and are mostly used for business purposes when there are five or fewer vehicles that are registered to the organization
  • Used vehicles that were a demo or demonstration vehicle
  • Used vehicles that were repurchased by a dealership under the lemon law and were resold with a lemon law buyback warranty
  • Used RVs, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles can sometimes qualify for lemon law protection in addition to cars, trucks and SUVs.

The California Attorney General’s office publishes comprehensive information about your rights and responsibilities under the California Used Car Lemon Law.

Duty to Repair

The used car lemon law gives the dealership and manufacturer a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix the defects before they must buy the vehicle back or pay the owner. A reasonable number of chances to fix the car might be exceeded in these cases:

  • One or two attempts to repair the car for a serious safety problem, such as anti-lock brake failure and the dealer or manufacturer is unable to fix the issue
  • Two or more attempts to where the problem recurs and may cause serious injury or death. If such a tragedy occurs, consulting with a wrongful death lawyer could be essential for seeking justice.
  • The same defect that has been fixed at least four times.
  • The vehicle has been in for repairs for 30 or more days since you bought it.

Every case is unique and different facts in the case warranty a different analysis as to how many repair attempts must be given to the manufacturer. Either way, you should save all receipts, work orders, and appointment reminders from your repair attempts so you can prove you met your obligation to attempt to have your vehicle fixed before filing a lemon law claim.

California Lemon Law Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim in California is four years from the date you knew or should have known that the vehicle was a lemon. This does not mean that you cannot bring a lemon law claim if you have had your vehicle for more than four years. In some instances, people have been able to resolve lemon law claims with vehicles over 10 years old.

If you have purchased or leased a lemon, you should start the buyback process immediately. After the statute of limitations has passed, a judge may dismiss your case. At this time, you are fully responsible for any costs to repair any vehicle defects, even if you did not cause them. Any time you have questions about the lemon law statute of limitations in California, consult with an attorney. This allows you to find out if you are still eligible to file a lemon law claim.

Which Lemon Law Remedy? The Choice is Yours.

A successful lemon law claim puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes time to select the form of compensation. Here are the two primary remedies:

Option A: Repurchase

The manufacturer will take possession of the used 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, interest, and pay off the loan. You will also receive a refund of registration fees, taxes, and out of pocket expenses you incurred that are related to the defect.

Option B: Replacement

The manufacturer will take possession of the used vehicle and provide you with a replacement vehicle. It must be an identical or substantially similar vehicle.

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 your used vehicle and receive a cash payment to compensate for the defect.

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

When you buy a used car that is under factory warranty, you expect it to be free of defects. It should be totally reliable. But this does not always happen. There are some new and used vehicles with major reliability problems sold by car dealerships. These problems can cause serious safety issues leading to injury. If you have a used car with major problems mechanical or electrical problems, your vehicle might qualify for lemon law protection, and our firm can file a claim on your behalf. Talk to the trusted lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima today for more information. Call us for a free consultation at 888-407-2955.

Attorney Aaron Fhima

Aaron Fhima, California attorneyAaron 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. [ Attorney Bio ]